INSIST ON A HOME INSPECTION BEFORE BUYING YOUR HOUSE
You’ve found the home you want, at the right price, and the house looks like it’s in pristine condition. But always keep in mind that, the home has been “dressed up” to accentuate its best features and minimize its potential flaws. Before you close on the purchase of a home – you should insist on an independent home inspection by a professional inspector.
Many sellers have been inspectors and appraisers look at the home for purchases of the sale, and are aware (or should be) that buyers will likely ask for another inspection independent of their own. This article will focus on why inspections are necessary, what to look for during house inspections (as well as inspectors), and when to have home inspected.
WHY HOME INSPECTIONS ARE IMPORTANT
You’ve seen the shiny buffed floors and sparkling granite countertops, and maybe you’ve even flushed all the toilets, but before you put down a deposit and agree to take on a mortgage, you need to make sure that everything you don’t see is in good working order. You’ll want to make sure the heating or A/C unit isn’t about to die, the foundation isn’t silently cracking and the roof isn’t about to spring a leak. If you arrange for a house inspection by a professional before the sale goes through, the problem is the sellers. If you choose not to have a home inspection done, the problem unfortunately becomes yours.
According to the home inspectors, homes are sometimes not particularly well cared for by homeowners, who are slow to fix leaky faucets, replacing heating or A/C filters, or clunky furnaces. If homes with homeowners living in the property can be uncared for, imagine what conditions a foreclosed home can hide. Mold can grow if the water hasn’t been turned off and the environment becomes moist. If the home is boarded up and there is no ventilation for weeks or months, black mold can grow fairly quickly.
WHAT A HOME INSPECTION ENTAILS
It is important for buyers to know what they should expect when paying for a home inspection. Because there is no uniform certification or licensing process for inspectors (more on that below), home inspections vary according to the person or company that does them. Generally, a home inspection will include a report on the type (and relative health, where possible) of the house’s heating and cooling system, electrical system, plumbing, walls, ceilings, flooring, foundation, roofing, drainage and basement.
Because home inspectors are not licensed in many areas, inspections will typically not include analysis for problems which licensed professionals generally give advice. These issues include termites, chemical and gases (such as asbestos or methane gas), lead or rodents. You should inquire into the presence of such problems, inspectors may be more willing to share such information “off the record” (because of their lack of certification in a particular area) and then you can call a professional in that field to give a written analysis.
For example, you might ask an inspector if there is a mold problem, and he may tell you that there’s a good chance of it but not put it in his report. It would be incumbent upon you to get a pest inspection of the house to get an official report.
Note that a home inspection generally covers only moderate to serious issues and does not detail each and every scratch and dent in the home. If you want a more exacting report, you should discuss this with your inspector (a higher fee is likely) and walk through the home with him during the inspection if possible. Not only will you learn more about the process and what to look for, he may give you information on small flaws that he may not include in the report but you might want to be aware of it for future reference.
A house inspection will run about $300-$400, depending on the person doing the inspection and factors such as the size of the home, age and type of home. Typically it takes 2-3 hours. We always recommend the seller be present at the time of the inspection, this makes for much easier communication of any findings and asking any questions you may have rather than just reading it in a report.
It is critically important to be aware that a home inspection is a visual inspection and limited in its nature.