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Buying a Home – Considering a Home Inspection? What You Should Know…

Let’s begin with the alarming truth that home inspections are not required in New Jersey. Contrary to what many believe, there is no legal obligation on buyers, sellers, agents or brokers to ensure a home inspection is conducted before the purchase of a home. This follows whether it is new construction or a 100-year-old Victorian.

You may wonder why there is no federal or state guidance in this seemingly important area of the real estate transaction, and a guess could be that caveat emptor or “let the buyer beware” is still firmly rooted in American transactions. Whatever the reason, in today’s world, home buyer’s may still need to beware, but can now be certain: with a simple home inspection. 

For those who think they can “deal with it later” …


By opting not to have a home inspection, you are placing yourself in a position where you will most likely lose the right to make additional requests for repairs that aren’t agreed to at the time of signing the initial purchase contract. This can sometimes come as a shock, but the sales agreement and everything within it will dictate each parties’ rights regarding inspections.

For those looking to save a little money …

Home inspectors are trained to discover defects in a home’s foundation, mold, water damage, and other potentially hazardous conditions. If not discovered, the damage from those defects alone could cost you hundreds to thousands of dollars. So, if you’re looking to save money in the short run, just consider the price you could end up paying in the long run. (Inspections in NJ typically range $357-$582).

For those who believe they are the “home inspector” …

In New Jersey, home inspectors are licensed and strictly regulated by the Home Inspection Advisory Committee under the Board of Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors.

Unless you can thoroughly inspect and efficiently identify defects in each of the areas below during a routine walk-through, then it is highly recommended that you leave it to the professionals.

  • Exterior of the home
  • Home’s foundation
  • Exterior walls of the home
  • Roof coverings, flashings and gutters
  • Roof support structure
  • Attic
  • Basement
  • Quality of insulation
  • Garage
  • Electrical wiring, outlets and breaker
  • Visible interior and exterior plumbing
  • Central air and heating system
  • Overall interior condition of the home

New Jersey Realtors recommends using the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors to begin your search for the right home inspector.

Update on Private Well Testing Coming December, 2021

New Jersey law requires buyers or sellers of property to test the water before the sale and review the results prior to closing. Landlords are also required to periodically test and to provide tenants with test results. This test has traditionally been for a specific type and amount of microorganisms that are potentially harmful to human health. But for those of you looking to lease or sell in NJ after December 1, 2021, be aware that those requirements are getting even stricter. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) has adopted additional amendments to the Private Well Testing Act (PWTA) rules that require testing for three per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) compounds: perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), and perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA).

What are PFOA, PFOS, and PFNA?
PFOA, PFOS, and PFNA are included within a group of man-made PFAS chemicals. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), PFAS have been used in industry and consumer products since the 1940’s with PFOA and PFOS being the most widely used and studied of the PFAS chemicals.

As per the EPA, current scientific research suggests that exposure to high levels of certain PFAS may lead to adverse health effects and more research is underway to better understand the health effects associated with low levels of PFAS exposure over long periods of time. There are a variety of ways that people can be exposed to PFAS chemicals, including drinking water that is sourced from a contaminated private drinking water well.

A Tree Grows Next Door

We have had some pretty serious storms this summer so here at Bergmann Law we wouldn’t blame you for looking twice at your neighbor’s big, beautiful tree. Especially if it has branches hanging over your yard or property.

opened brown wooden gate
Photo by Caio Resende on Pexels.com

The New Jersey Supreme Court holds that tree branches which overhang a property line can constitute a nuisance (Ackerman v. Ellis, 81 N.J.L. 1, 79 A. 883 (Sup. Ct. 1911)), and you have the right to trim any trees or shrubs that extend over into your property, so long as you do not harm or destroy the trees or plants and you only trim up to the property line. (Wegener v. Sugerman, 104 N.J.L. 26, 138 A. 699 (Sup. Ct. 1927)).

The same principal applies to the parts of plants that grow underground, too. If you suspect roots from a neighbor’s tree or other greenery are threatening your property, you have the right to remove those roots from your property as long as it does not harm the tree or plant.

But what if you’re not just worried about a couple of limbs? If the entire tree seems like it might be ready to fall onto your house during the next storm things are a little bit different. If the trunk of the tree is contained in your neighbor’s yard, it is your neighbor’s property and you can’t remove the tree yourself. But you can contact your local government. Most local governments have ordinances that prohibit maintaining any dangerous conditions (like hazardous trees) on private property.

Of course, each situation will be different, and resolving issues with neighbors requires a delicate touch. Let us review the facts and provide information about your specific circumstances and local laws, then come up with a plan that keeps your home safe and your relationship with your neighbor on good terms.