Home Inspections Avert Future Headaches

Suppose you bought a house and later discovered, to your dismay, that the stucco exterior concealed a nasty case of dry rot. Or suppose that when you fired up the furnace in the winter, you discovered a cracked heat exchanger leaking gas into your home. The best way to avoid unpleasant surprises like these is to arrange for a home inspection before you buy.

Home Inspections Help You Avoid Unpleasant Surprises

A good home inspection is an objective, top-to-bottom examination of a home and everything that comes with it. The standard inspection report includes a review of the home's heating and air-conditioning systems; plumbing and wiring; roof, attic, walls, ceilings, floors, windows, doors, foundation and basement.

Getting a professional inspection is crucial for older homes because age often takes its toll on the roof and other hard-to-reach areas. Problems can also be the result of neglect or hazardous repair work, such as a past owner's failed attempt to install lights and an outlet in a linen closet.

A home inspection is also a wise investment when buying a new home. In fact, new homes frequently have defects, whether caused by an oversight during construction or simply human error.

Getting an Inspector

Real estate agents can usually recommend an experienced home inspector. Make sure to get an unbiased inspector. You can find one through word-of-mouth referrals, or look in the Yellow Pages or online under "Building Inspection" or "Home Inspection."

Home inspections cost about a few hundred dollars, depending on the size of the house and location. Inspection fees tend to be higher in urban areas than in rural areas. You may find the cost of inspection high, but it is money well spent. Think of it as an investment in your investment your future home.

Some builders may try to dissuade you from getting a home inspection on a home they've built. They may not necessarily be trying to hide anything because most builders guarantee their work and will fix any problems in your new home before you move in. Some builders, in fact, will offer to do their own inspections. But its best to have an objective professional appraisal - insist on a third-party inspector.

An Inspection Will Educate You about Your House

Education is another good reason for getting an inspection. Most buyers want to learn as much as they can about their purchase so they can protect their investment. An examination by an impartial home inspector helps in this learning process.

If at all possible, be present at the inspection. Ask the home inspector to go over his findings with you in person. Most inspectors are glad to share their knowledge, and you'll be able to ask plenty of questions.The inspector's written report might worry you because you are unfamiliar with terms used in the report, but having the inspector point out how simple it really is to put a backflow preventer on a hose bib educates you and keeps you from the natural reaction of exaggerating the severity of something you do not understand simply because it is listed as a deficiency on the report.  Today's inspectors are now required to list all manner of items as deficiencies on an inspection report even if they are as built conditions and were according to code at the time. Some inspectors are even seeking reform to bring common sense back to the reporting requirements. 

It is important to realize that if you purchase a pre-existing home, you should expect pre-existing conditions.  If you want the seller to deliver a new home without deficiencies, then you need to purchase a newly built never lived in home. 

The purpose of the inspection report is to help you see exactly what you are buying.  A seller is not required to repair the items found on an inspection report, but as a buyer you are not required to proceed with the sale if you purchased an option period.     

Inspection Timing and Results

Homebuyers usually arrange for an inspection after signing a contract or purchase agreement with the seller. The results may be available immediately or within a few days. The home inspector can alert you to any costly or potentially hazardous conditions. In some cases, you may be advised not to buy the home unless such problems are remedied.

If major problems are found, you can back out of the deal. If costly repairs are warranted, the seller may be willing to adjust the home's price or the contract's terms. But when only minor repairs are needed, the buyer and seller can usually work out an agreement that won't affect the sale price.