WHY DO I NEED A HOME INSPECTION?
The process of buying or selling a house can be quite stressful. A certified home inspection is designed to offer you peace of mind, but too often has the opposite effect. You will be asked to absorb a lot of information in a short time. This often includes a written report, checklist, photographs, and what the inspector himself says during the inspection. All this combined with the seller’s disclosure and what you notice yourself makes the experience even more overwhelming. What should you do?
The first thing to do is to relax. Most of your inspection will include maintenance recommendations, life expectancy of your home's components and minor imperfections. These are nice to know about. However, the issues that really matter will fall into four categories:
1. Major defects: an example of this would be a structural failure.
2. Things that lead to major defects: a small roof flashing leak, for example.
3. Things that may hinder your ability to finance, legally occupy or insure the home.
4. Safety hazards, such as an exposed, live wire at the electric panel.
Anything in these categories should be addressed. Often a serious problem can be corrected inexpensively to protect both life and property. (especially in categories 2 and 4).
Most sellers are honest and are often surprised to learn of defects uncovered during an inspection. Realize that sellers are under no obligation to repair everything mentioned in the report. No home is perfect. Keep things in perspective. You may not want to lose your deal over things that do not matter. It is often inappropriate to demand that a seller address deferred maintenance, conditions already listed on the seller’s disclosure or other non-significant items.
WHAT EXACTLY IS A HOME INSPECTION?
A standard home inspection is a visual examination of the physical structure and major interior systems of a residential building, much like a physical exam that your doctor may perform on you. However, it should be clearly understood that a home inspection is not to be confused with an appraisal, warranty evaluation, building code inspection, a guarantee of any kind, and/or an insurance policy on the condition of the property.
WHAT DOES A STANDARD HOME INSPECTION INCLUDE?
During an inspection, the inspector will review the readily accessible exposed portions of the structure of the home, including the roof, attic, walls, ceilings, floors, windows, doors, basement and foundation, as well as the heating/air conditioning systems, interior plumbing and electrical systems for potential problems.
Keep in mind that a home inspection is not intended to point out every small problem or invisible/latent defect in a home. Most minor or cosmetic flaws, for example, should be apparent to the buyer without the aid of a professional.
WHY IS A HOME INSPECTION SO IMPORTANT?
The purchase of a home is one the largest single investments you will ever make. With that in mind, it is extremely important that you learn as much as you can about the condition of the property and the possible need for any major repairs before making the purchase. A home inspection by an InterNACHI-licensed inspector helps minimize the possibility of unpleasant surprises, unexpected costs and post-purchase headaches.
It's important to remember that a reputable home inspector will also point out the positive aspects of a home, as well as the maintenance that will be necessary to keep it in good shape. After the inspection, you will have a much clearer understanding of the property you are about to purchase, giving you confidence and peace of mind.
What's more, home inspections are not just for new home buyers. For existing homeowners, an inspection may be considered in order to identify problems in the making, and to learn important preventive measures to avoid costly future repairs. If you are planning to sell your home, you also may wish to have an inspection prior to placing your home on the market. This will give you a better understanding of conditions which may be discovered by the buyer's inspector, and an opportunity to make repairs that will put the house in better selling condition.
HOW MUCH DOES A TYPICAL HOME INSPECTION COST?
The fee for a typical one-family house varies geographically, much like the cost of the property itself. Other cost factors include the size and features of the house, its age, and additional considerations such as optional testing.
It's always a good idea to compare prices from several different inspection services in your area, paying close attention to exactly what is included with the price. When comparing inspection services, it's important to remember that the lowest-priced inspector is not necessarily the best choice. The inspector's qualifications, including his experience, training, professional affiliations and most importantly his InterNACHI certification - should be the most important consideration when making your decision.
CAN I INSPECT THE HOME MYSELF?
Technically, yes - but you're taking a substantial gamble in doing so.
Typically, even the "handiest" homeowner lacks the knowledge, training and experience of a professional home inspector, who has inspected hundreds, perhaps thousands, of homes over the span of a career. An InterNACHI-licensed inspector is familiar with the countless elements of home construction, proper component installation, and maintenance. They understand how the home's systems and components are intended to function together, as well as how - and why - they fail.
What's more, most buyers find it very difficult to remain completely objective and unemotional about the house they really want, and this may skew their judgment. For the most objective and accurate assessment of any home's condition, it is best to obtain an impartial, third-party opinion by a trained, licensed expert.
CAN A HOME "FAIL" AN INSPECTION?
Realistically speaking, no. An inspection is merely a thorough examination of the home's current condition. It is neither an appraisal (which determines market value) nor a municipal inspection, which verifies local code compliance. A home inspector, therefore, will not "pass" or "fail" a house, but will accurately and objectively describe its physical condition and indicate potential problems or concerns.
HOW DO I FIND A REPUTABLE HOME INSPECTOR?
The best place to start is right here on our web site! InterNACHI goes to great lengths to ensure that all its licensed inspectors are fully-trained and certified, and that they meet our impeccably high standards for professionalism, expertise and reliability.
Real estate agents are also generally familiar with reputable home inspection service providers, and should be able to provide you with a list of names from which to choose.
Whatever your referral source, you will want to make sure that the home inspector is InterNACHI-licensed
WHEN IS THE PROPER TIME TO ORDER AN INSPECTION?
A home inspector is typically contacted right after the contract or purchase agreement with the seller has been signed, and, depending on the home inspector's schedule, is often available within a day or two.
However, before you sign any agreements with the seller, be sure that there is an inspection clause in the contract, making your purchase obligation contingent upon the findings of a professional home inspection. This clause should specify the terms to which both the buyer and seller are obligated.
DO I HAVE TO BE PRESENT FOR THE INSPECTION?
Technically, no, but we highly recommend that you attend, for several reasons:
1) You will be able to observe the inspector and ask questions directly
2) You will learn, first-hand, about the condition of the home and become familiar with all its features and components
3) You will get to know how various systems work, and how to maintain them
If for any reason you cannot attend the inspection, you can still rest easy knowing that your licensed home inspector will provide you with a comprehensive, written report describing the inspection and its findings. However, there's simply no substitute for actually being there while the inspection takes place. We recommend that you make time to be there!
WHAT IF MY INSPECTION FINDS PROBLEMS WITH THE HOME?
First of all, it's important to remember that virtually no home is perfect. If your inspector does identify some problems with the home, it doesn't necessarily mean you shouldn't buy the house, only that you will know in advance what to expect.
What's more, you may be able to negotiate the purchase price of the home with the seller if significant problems are found, which will help you offset the required repair costs.
IF THE HOUSE CHECKS OUT OKAY, DID I REALLY NEED THE INSPECTION?
Absolutely! Now that your new home has been thoroughly inspected, you can complete your home purchase with confidence in its overall condition and its vital systems and components. You will also have become knowledgeable about your new home's structure and systems, and can keep that information handy for future reference.