It's a good idea before you buy a home to have it professionally inspected. If your purchase plans include borrowing money, it is likely that your mortgage company or lender will require a home inspection.
Inspectors often uncover problems not immediately apparent to a potential buyer. Also, most offers on a home are subject to change based on information contained in the inspector's report.
Home inspections optional but important
A home inspection examines the condition of the house and its components. The home inspector evaluates the home’s structure, and gives feedback about systems such as the roof, plumbing, electrical system, heating and air conditioning units, insulation, doors, windows and more.
Spending hundreds may save thousands
When you make a written offer, insist the contract state the offer is contingent on a home inspection by a qualified inspector. Inspection costs vary by region and home size. Typical costs range from $200 - $500, which is worth spending to see if a home needing expensive repairs is a good investment.
Finding a qualified home inspector
The homebuyer is responsible for selecting a qualified inspector and paying for the inspection. The following sources can help find one:
- State regulatory authorities, if your state licenses home inspectors.
- Professional organizations, which require home inspectors to pass tests and meet minimum qualifications.
- Yellow pages, under “Building Inspection Service” or “Home Inspection Service.”
- Search online for “Building Inspection Service” or “Home Inspection Service.”
- Your real estate agent. Most have a list of recommended home inspectors.
What to ask a prospective home inspector:
Does the inspector:
- Have special training – if so from where?
- Attend continuing education classes?
- Hold a license and meet all local and state requirements?
- Belong to the American Society of Home Inspectors, or the National Association of Home Inspectors?
- Have several years in the business, with a significant number of inspections under his/her belt?
- Carry Errors & Omissions insurance?
- Have experience in homes similar to the one being inspected?
- Walk on the roof, crawl in the crawlspace, go into the basement, and climb into the attic space? These places must be seen to best protect the customer.
More questions for the candidate
- Does the completed report include photographs?
Often, the report describes damages or defects in locations with limited access. Pictures of these give you a clear understanding of the scope of the damage and make repairs simpler to get estimated
- When will the completed report be delivered?
The buying decision is time critical and you need time to read, review, and respond. The best inspection companies can deliver the report to you on-site, just as the inspection is completed.
On inspection day
Attend the inspection. Inspectors report all defects they find, no matter how minor. Witnessing problems first-hand gives you a better grasp of what is and is not an issue.
Negotiating with home inspection reports
The seller may not make every repair requested, or may refuse to make repairs at all. Carefully review your contract before signing to understand the rights and obligations of all parties. Never rely on a verbal agreement — to be valid, agreements must be in writing.
American Society of Home Inspectors http://www.ashi.org/
National Association of Home Inspectors http://www.nahi.org/