A home inspection is an objective visual analysis of a home’s structure and systems. An inspection will determine the areas of a home that are not performing properly, as well as items that are beyond their useful life or are unsafe. Inspections include areas of the home’s interior and exterior, from the roof to the foundation and the exterior drainage and retaining walls. If problems or symptoms are found, the inspector may recommend further evaluation. A home inspection is a visual inspection to determine problems or conditions that exist at the time of the inspection. A home inspection is not a warranty. A warranty can be obtained separately.
The purchase of a home is one of the largest purchases you will make. It is important that you know as much as possible about this purchase. A home inspector is trained to be able to evaluate the home in detail and give you a report that will allow you to make an informed decision about purchasing the home. An inspection report will describe the home in detail and will highlight the areas that are problems. A home inspection is a good idea even if you are already a homeowner. We all get physical checkups – why not give your home a checkup? Many homeowners are living in homes that have serious problems that if identified early can save considerable repair costs. Water leaks can cause serious and costly problems, but if they are caught early can be repaired at little cost. A home inspection will also give you an outline of the routine maintenance that needs to be done to the home. Home sellers will want an inspection to find problems that a buyer’s inspection would have found. The seller can then make the repairs prior to the home going on the market.
There are other local organizations that provide support for the Home Inspectors in a certain state or region. It is important that the inspectors belong to an association and abide by a set of guidelines that require professionalism in the industry.
The home inspector’s report will review the condition of the home’s heating system, plumbing, electrical system and central air conditioning system (temperature permitting), as well as the roof, attic, visible insulation, walls, ceilings, floors, windows, doors, foundation, and visible structure.
Each home inspection company has their own pricing structure. Inspection fees vary based on the area of the country and the type, size, and features of the home or building. Most inspectors will charge extra for services such as radon testing, termite inspections, well and septic inspections. A typical inspection fee for a 2,000 (heated) square foot home varies from $250.00 to $350.00. The cost of the inspection should not be the only consideration for hiring an inspector. A good inspection that informs you of all the potential problems in a home is worth the money. A bargain inspector may give you an inferior report. Once you have purchased the home, it may be very costly to repair problems that were omitted from the inspection report.
Most home buyers will look at a home that they want to purchase and look for reasons to purchase the home. The prospective home buyer is not able to look at the home with the unbiased critical eye of a home inspector. Even a home buyer with construction experience does not have the knowledge and tools of a home inspector. A good inspector is trained and experienced in finding the clues in a home that indicate problems. These clues are sometimes very subtle and hard to find. Most inspectors use tools that help them determine problems. Most inspectors have performed hundreds of inspections, and they are familiar with problems with certain building materials or building styles.
When purchasing a home you will want to have the home inspected within a few days after the purchase agreement is signed. You want to make sure you have a clause in your purchase agreement that allows you to have an inspection and that you have the right to terminate the agreement if you find the home in unsatisfactory condition. This clause should specify the terms to which both the buyer and seller are obligated.
We recommend that you are present at the inspection. Most inspectors will allow you to be there and ask questions after the inspection is completed. Most inspectors will point out the areas that are potential problems. This is important because you will be able to see for yourself the extent of problems that are sometimes hard for an inspector to convey in a report. Most inspectors will also show you how the heating system works and show you what things will need to be maintained in order to keep the home in good condition.
Almost all homes will have problems. Even newly constructed homes will have problems that will be discovered during an inspection. This is why we recommend an inspection even for new construction. Your inspector will be able to identify major problems that will be costly. Minor problems are to be expected and can be repaired after closing. Major problems may require additional negotiation between you and the seller as to how to fix the problems. A seller may adjust the purchase price or contract terms if major problems are found. If the problems are costly, you will be able to make your decision about purchasing the home with the proper knowledge about the future cost of that home.
Home inspections are now considered so routine that an estimated 77 percent of all home buyers invest in one. Buying a home is one of the most important decisions you will ever make. Like any investment, you will want to know as much information about what you are purchasing as possible. A comprehensive, professional home inspection is designed to help you in that effort.
Some questions asked of home inspectors are “Who should make the repairs?” and “Should I buy this house?”. The role of the home inspector is to provide the buyer with their opinion of the home’s condition at the time of inspection. Because each real estate sales contract and transaction is different, a buyer’s real estate sales professional or lawyer is better qualified to answer these types of questions. A home inspection is not a pass/fail test. It is up to the buyer to determine whether or not the home passes his/her own test. A couple looking to totally renovate a home may realize that the need for lots of repairs to the mechanical systems do not matter to them. Conversely, a young couple buying a ‘starter home’ in which they plan to live only a few years may find a home with many problems is just not for them. The home inspection does not make a home purchase risk-free. Most home inspection companies utilize an inspection contract that outlines the specifics of the home inspection, as well as its limitations. But it’s important to remember that while a home inspection is designed to reduce the risk in buying a home, it cannot eliminate that risk.
Choose wisely when it comes to selecting a home inspector. Even in areas where there is mandatory licensing, credentials among inspectors can vary dramatically. Price should not be the reason to select a home inspector. Make sure that your home inspector carries Errors & Omissions (E&O) insurance and is up to date with their ongoing training programs from the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI).
It is also important to make sure that an inspector provides a written inspection report that includes pertinent details and pictures of the condition of major elements of the home. Look for a home inspector that encourages you to go along on the inspection. The inspection is a terrific introduction to a home. A professional inspector can answer questions, demonstrate how to operate various systems in the home, and provide helpful maintenance suggestions. Heed the inspector’s advice. Deficiencies found on an inspection will continue to deteriorate through usage and age. Plan on addressing any outstanding concerns as soon as possible. A professional home inspection is the best investment a home buyer can make.
Quality home inspections include reports that describe the condition of each item inspected. The best reports are those that are created using home inspection software and include pictures and comments specific to the home.
Home inspectors who use this special software can send their reports via email. Such Internet report delivery is often important for out of town clients, instead of messy faxes or costly overnight shipping.
It is a good idea to request a sample report prior to hiring an inspector to ensure that it is detailed and easily understood. If you can’t understand the report or if you lose interest reading extra useless information, you may not even read your own report, and you may miss important information.
Look for credentials, experience, and reputation over price
All home inspectors have strong points and areas for improvement. You might choose a cheaper home inspector and think you are saving yourself money. However, saving $50 on your inspection could cost you thousands of dollars later if the inspector misses problems. Typically, the best inspectors are not the cheapest. If you want to save money, possibly thousands, then don’t choose the cheapest inspector. Choosing a thorough and experienced home inspector is the best route to take.