The Importance of a Home Inspection
Our seventy-eight year old Aunt recently expressed an interest in purchasing a twenty-five year old home for our cousin who is physically challenged. Knowing that we had been in the building business for a couple of decades, our Aunt asked if we would go through home with a fine tooth comb to determine if it was “up to snuff.”
Actually, our Aunt is the receptionist in our office and has, therefore, heard us espouse countless times the importance of having a property inspected prior to its purchase. Furthermore, we recommend that all homes be periodically inspected to reveal everything from periodic maintenance items to hidden repair work which, left untreated, could add up to a significant sum of money.
In the case of the house that our Aunt was considering, our inspection disclosed that the home was in dire need of a new roof, there were crack repairs inside and out, the cooktop needed replacement, tile was missing in a shower, a retaining wall needed to be rebuilt, a new garage door was needed and much of the landscaping was in need of replacement. And that was just for starters. The anticipated bill for repairs: $30,000.00.
In reality, the home was in generally good condition. There just happened to be several items that had not been tended to over the years, one of which is the roof which can be the single most costly repair or maintenance cost associated with home ownership.
Our findings were not designed to discourage her from buying the house. On the contrary, we encouraged her to pursue the purchase. We just wanted her to go into the transaction with her eyes open, knowing ALL the costs. Accordingly, she could ask the seller to make the needed repairs or negotiate down the purchase price which would allow her to make the repairs through her own forces.
The example that we use of our Aunt’s experience is played out countless times each day across this country. This year alone, more than four million families throughout North America will be willing to take those risks in order to have a home of their own. Unfortunately, there are still those that attempt to save the few hundred dollars that it costs to enlist the service of a professional home inspector. These “penny wise, pound foolish” people can almost always count on a costly surprise.
The risks involved in buying a previously-owned home run the gamut from a simple, relatively inexpensive problem such as additional roof insulation, to an expensive septic tank replacement. So the importance of a comprehensive pre- purchase home inspection can’t be overestimated, and the intelligent home buyer can n longer consider it a mere formality. With the average purchase price expected to be more than $100,000, buying a home is likely to be the largest single investment most people will ever make.
So, what is a home inspection? A good home inspection performed by a home inspection professional consists of a two-hour-or-more examination of the home’s structural, mechanical and electrical elements, from top to bottom, inside and out. What’s more, an inspector that’s worth his salt will e armed with all the necessary equipment, including an expandable ladder, volt meter, amp probe, moisture meter and even boots and binoculars, when necessary.”
If there are major, costly problems in a house, a qualified inspector should uncover them. But just as important, a good detailed home inspection provides the consumer with a thorough analysis f the condition of the house – what is in good working order, what needs immediate repair and replacement, and what will need attention over the next few years.
Should you be a part of your home inspection? You bet! Most reputable inspectors invite the buyer to accompany them during the inspection procedure. A buyer should feel free to make notes and jot down questions for the inspector. And better inspection firms will provide a well-detailed written report of the findings. The report should offer a statement of the general condition of the property and provide specific information by component such as electrical, mechanical, plumbing, etc.
When shopping of a home inspector try to avoid a firm that may have conflicting interests, such as those who are in the home repair business and the like. Check to be sure that the firm carries all the necessary insurance, including professional and general liability insurance and worker’s compensation.
Be wary of home inspectors being “pushed” by anyone involved in he sale of he property. Their interests may conflict with those of the buyer. Also, insist on an inspection contingency clause in the contract of sale spelling out the responsibilities of the buyer and seller should major defects be found by he inspector.
In addition to the economic peace of mind it provides, a home inspection should be a happy, learning experience. For most people, it’s the start of a great adventure, and with the right inspector it will be just that.