Quality Home Inspection: Does It Matter? What Should It Cost?
Home inspections are important as they enable a buyer to learn about the physical attributes of the home. In almost all instances, homes are sold in less than perfect condition. Therefore, a buyer needs to be informed about the anticipated costs associated with maintaining the home post-closing.
As a result, the house inspection is a significant phase of the home buying process. An accredited and experienced home inspector investigates the home and writes up the inspection report after the inspection is completed. This detailed document becomes a very important tool in the real estate transaction process.
Tips for Choosing A Perfect Home Inspection Company
If you have bought or sold a home, you might have experienced an independent home inspection. This type of home inspection is designed to provide both buyers and sellers with critical information about the health of the home's systems - heating and cooling, electrical, plumbing, water tightness, roof condition, and safety. This type of inspection is highly detailed and provides a wealth of information on the home. While this type of inspection is not required, it can help buyers avoid a "money pit" and can help sellers understand what things might turn buyers away.
A friend wrote me recently to say that they bought a house and had expected the home inspector to look for termites. After they moved in, they decided to remodel. They discovered that termites had completely eaten the wood structure in 3 walls.
I told them that one of the things home inspectors do not do is inspect for pests, since they are not qualified to identify them. Pest control professionals are qualified to find pest infestations, and should be called in before the purchase. Most of the time your real estate agent will suggest what inspections you should be getting to protect yourself.
This got me thinking about home inspection myths. Here are the top 6 myths.
* Home inspectors inspect for termites. Myth! Unfortunately for the couple above who believed this, repairs were very expensive.
* You should not attend the inspection on the home you are buying, because it will disturb the inspector. Myth! Inspectors appreciate their clients attending the inspection and know they can fully communicate the issues with them. Sometimes written reports do not explain everything fully. If the clients are out of town and cannot attend the inspection, they should hold a conference call to discuss report items as soon as practical after the report is completed.
* The seller is responsible for fixing everything the inspector finds wrong. Myth! Repairs, even serious ones, are negotiable. The sellers may be able to back out of a deal, however, if the inspector discovers serious defects.
* New construction requires an independent home inspection to get the Certificate of Occupancy. Myth! New construction does require progressive inspections by the municipal building inspector for safety and code enforcement. If you are moving into a newly constructed home, I personally would recommend an independent home inspection also, as it will catch many loose ends.
* If the home's appraisal is excellent, there can't be anything wrong with the home and you don't need another inspection. Myth! A home's appraisal is based on many factors, including market conditions, location, and materials (HardiePlank and granite countertops, for example) but does not inspect for systems actually working or structural integrity.
* A home inspection will take about 30 minutes. Myth! A thorough home inspection should take from 2-5 hours depending upon the size and complexity of the home. There are hundreds of inspection points on a home inspection, including walking the roof and crawling the crawlspace.
Now that you are the home inspection expert, you can try these questions on your friends and see how they do.
What Makes a Good Home Inspection Report Good?
This is a really good and important question. Many home buyers (and even agents) don't know exactly what a home inspector does. So let me clear the smoke right now.
There are basically 3 aspects to every home inspection:
1st - A home inspection is a visual, non-intrusive, & fair effort to discover the real material condition of the home during the time and day that the inspection takes place.
2nd - A home inspection isn't really about the home inspector telling you what's wrong with the home more than it is a discovery session for you to make sure you understand what you're buying so that you can decide if it falls within your expectations and is a good fit for your situation.
You see, my job is to make sure I align the reality of the home's condition with your expectations. If I can successfully do that, then I've done my job.
3rd - The home inspection report. The report is designed to summarize and convey the findings in a way that is clear, simple, complete, and easy-to-understand. If a home inspection is a snapshot in time of the condition of a home, then the report is the photo, itself (and a good report will have lots of photos). Without the report there is no real home inspection. It allows you to go back through the inspection as many times as you like in order to decide if the house is a good fit for you and your circumstances.
By nature, it's limited in scope to what can be seen, touched and tested, which particularly applies to vacant homes where a home inspector is forced to play detective and do the best they can during the short period of time they're at the home to find everything (good and bad) that you'll need to know in order to make an educated decision about the home.
If your schedule allows, you should also be encouraged to take advantage of the rare opportunity to follow a professional home inspector around your home who will invite your questions, concerns, and impart key information and advice that will certainly help you while you live in and maintain your home for years to come.
Some key points to remember about home inspections:
1. No house is perfect. Not even a brand new home. There will always be something worth noting in the report.
2. Not all home inspectors are created equal. Just like auto mechanics, some are better than others. Price should not be the most important consideration when comparing home inspection firms. Use word-of-mouth referrals, past client reviews, time in business, background, and expertise. This is especially true since you're making such a large and important investment.
3. A home inspection is an investment in the quality of your new home. View it as one. Personally, I always have a goal that the items I find in a home will at least cover the cost of the inspection when they are negotiated for repair. Of course, that doesn't always happens. Than again, sometimes my fee is tiny in comparison to what I find.
4. Old homes are like old people, the older they get the more attention they need (my sons laugh when I say that). Be sure to see older homes (50+) as they're supposed to be seen and try to avoid bringing the same set of expectations you had when you looked at that 10 year old home earlier in the day. It will not look or perform the same way. The 3 biggest concerns in every old home? The plumbing, electrical system, and foundation.
A property inspection typically includes an examination of the entire house including:
The typical cost of an inspection varies depending on the area, size of the home, and services provided by the home inspection company. As with most services, there is a strong element of getting what you pay for. Selecting the lowest priced inspector can often result in problems down the road.
Hire a licensed property inspection professional to represent your best interests-whether you are a buyer, seller or owner – to ensure the home is safe for you and your family, and that you are fully informed about major upcoming expenses.
Top Questions, Facts, and Concerns About Home Inspection
A thorough home inspection is one of the most important steps before purchasing a home, and many buyers try to skip this step only to end up regretting it later when problems become apparent. Your home is the place you go to get away from the world, and to relax and put your feet up, or spend time with your family and friends. You want to be reassured that the home you buy is safe and in good condition. A home inspection can give you this peace of mind, using a visual inspection of every aspect of the home both inside and out. This should be done by a professional home inspector who has the education, knowledge, and experience needed to identify problems which may not be readily apparent.
There are some questions you should ask any prospective home inspection company, and things to consider, to guarantee you get a thorough and complete inspection. How long has the inspector been doing these inspections? How many home inspections does the inspector do in a year? How much experience does the home inspector have inspecting homes identical to the one you are buying? These questions are important, because without adequate experience the inspector may miss signs of a hidden problem. Choose a home inspection company that exclusively does only home inspections, and does not just practice this as a sideline to their day job. Ask about the reports that will be given, will you get a written report, an oral report, or both? Does the home inspection company have certification? Do they have insurance?
Set up an appointment for the home inspection with both the seller and the home inspector. Make the appointment during the daytime, when there is plenty of daylight so that flaws and problems will be noticeable instead of hidden in shadows. Allow for at least two to three hours for the home inspection, and make sure you are present. Ask questions of the home inspector, and listen to the answers closely. Make sure that you contact the seller, and that they agree to the visit by the home inspector at the specified time and day. Give the home inspector the name, address, and phone number of the buyer, and the address and directions to the home being inspected, as well as any codes needed to access any lock box that may be installed.
If you need to reschedule the home inspection appointment, make sure to give the inspection company at least twenty four to forty eight hour notice before the appointment time, to avoid being charged. Make sure that all utilities are on at the home, including the electric and gas, and make sure that all appliances like the furnace and hot water heater are on and running. Arrange with the seller for the home inspector to have access to everything, including any attics, basements, garages, outbuildings, closets, and other areas. This will ensure a complete and thorough professional home inspection. Also make arrangements with the seller to make sure any furniture or stored belongings which may block access to electrical panels, access panels, and appliances are moved before the inspector arrives. Payment is expected after the home inspection is done, before the inspector leaves the home, so make sure to have a check or money order ready when the inspection is finished.
When looking at homes, do a personal inspection of each home to narrow down the list of possibilities. A professional home inspection should be done on the home you finally decide to purchase, but doing a personal inspection on each potential purchase will help you weed out the obvious bad choices and save you time and energy. Look for things like apparent cracks or shifts in the foundation, obvious electrical malfunctions, sockets that have scorch marks, signs of severe water damage or mold growth, evidence of leaks, both inside and outside the home, the overall condition and age of the roof, dampness or signs of flooding in the basement or crawlspace, and other signs of repairs that may be needed.
There are some things that a home inspection may not cover, depending on where you live and what company you use for the inspection. Most of the time these are referred to as third party testing services, and they can include water quality testing, radon testing, mold testing, air quality testing, and inspection for wood boring and eating insects like termites. All of these tests may be considered important, depending on what the home inspection shows and any problems that may have been detected by the home inspector. If there is visible mold then mold testing may be suggested, to ensure it is not a toxic strain of mold that can cause human disease and illness. If the water quality is suspect, water testing may be suggested to guarantee that there are no bacteria or other organisms that can sicken you. Radon testing should always be done to make sure this cancer causing gas is not present in the home, and the home inspection report may suggest this as well. A termite inspection could be ordered if the inspector finds evidence that these pests may be present, and posing a danger to the structure of the home by eating the wood. Air quality testing may be done if there is any reason to suspect that the air in the home may be harmful to occupants, and this can be due to mold, radon, or other harmful airborne irritants and pathogens.
Knowing what to expect during a thorough professional home inspection, and the tips to make this process more effective and efficient, can help you get a good idea on any flaws in the home before you make the purchase, without any doubt or confusion involved. This step should never be omitted, even though it may seem costly, because it can save you significantly if there are hidden defects and unseen flaws.