What Pennsylvania law has to say concerning home inspections

On behalf of Kaplin Stewart Meloff Reiter & Stein, P.C. posted in Real Estate Law on Oct 25, 2015.

As exciting as it can be to find what you think is the home of your dreams after a long and heretofore fruitless search, it’s important to understand that there are still a host of important tasks that must be completed before you call the moving company.

For instance, before any sale is completed, chances are very good that you’ll want a home inspection performed in order to ensure that you are not buying a proverbial money pit. However, how much do you really know about what the law here in Pennsylvania has to say concerning home inspections?

In recognition of the fact that the state had no laws on the books regulating any aspect of the performance of home inspections or the overall professionalism of home inspectors, lawmakers passed the Pennsylvania Home Inspection Law, which officially went into effect back in December 2001.

Prior to delving into how exactly this law regulates home inspectors, it’s necessary to first understand what actually constitutes a home inspection.

In general, a home inspection is defined as a visual and noninvasive assessment of the “structural and essential components of a residential dwelling” — including plumbing, electrical and mechanical systems — performed in exchange for a payment and in conjunction with a possible residential real estate transfer.

A material defect, in turn, is any sort of flaw associated with the residential dwelling that 1) poses an unreasonable risk to anyone situated on the property or 2) would serve to drive down the value of the property significantly.

It’s important to note, however, that any subsystem, system or structural component of a home that is nearing or has otherwise surpassed its life expectancy (i.e., a 23-year-old roof with a 20-year warranty) is not considered a material defect under the law.

We will continue to examine this topic in future posts. In the meantime, please consider speaking with an experienced legal professional if you have any questions or concerns related to the purchase or sale of residential real estate.

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