Before making a decision to buy a home, a potential buyer must always perform one critical step – a home inspection. A home that is properly inspected can be checked for issues such as structural integrity, damage, design problems, environmental impact, and health and safety hazards, to name a few. Some home buyers may be concerned about the cost of a home inspection but the truth is that a professional home inspection can offer protection for the buyer. This is one key step in the home-buying process that you should never skip.
Working With a Professional Home Inspector
A professional home inspector is a trained and licensed individual who will perform a detailed visual checkup of a home to identify any problems, including hidden damages and safety hazards. A house inspector can help identify any issues with the structure and/or appliances that may require repair or replacement. They can also determine how long an appliance will last based on its condition.
To find the right inspector, one of the best things to do is to ask for referrals from friends, family members, or acquaintances you trust. Look for people who have recently purchased property and ask for recommendations. You may also look for referrals through online communities devoted to real estate. Consider sites such as Angie’s List, Yelp, Patch, HomeAdvisor, and NextDoor. You could also consider looking for suggestions through Consumers’ Checkbook if you live in any of the areas covered by the organization.
There are also professional organizations that may be used as references when you need to find a home inspector. Organizations such as ASHI, NABIE, and InterNACHI provide certifications for architects and engineers who perform home inspection services. The local Better Business Bureau (BBB) chapter may also offer valuable information about home inspectors in your area.
Try to decline the services of a home inspector that the real estate agent recommends. While there may be nothing wrong with the qualifications of the inspector per se, he/she may not offer the most objective view of the property you are eyeing. The goal of a real estate agent is to sell the property and close the deal. Whether or not the agent means well, it is better to find your own home inspector to avoid a conflict of interest.
How Much is the Cost of a Home Inspection?
On average, expect a home inspection to cost from $300 to $450. However, the cost will depend on a number of factors, including the size or area of the property and the types of tests that will be performed. Older properties, for example, may have to be tested for asbestos and lead. Larger homes, such as those that have a minimum area of 2,000 sq. ft., may cost between $500 to $600 and higher. Additional inspections may also be required, especially for homes that are susceptible to termite or mold infestations. These will likely increase the cost.
Before hiring a home inspector, read the contract thoroughly to ensure that the services you require are covered. Make sure you understand the extent of the services and the inspection timeline set for the property you want to buy.
Preparing for Inspection
Do you need to be present during a home inspection? Absolutely. It is important that you personally see and hear what the home inspector finds during the inspection process. You are likely going to be accompanied by real estate agents – both yours and the seller’s. Being present will allow you to learn about the true value of the property. Very often, this can be determined by the details that will be revealed by the inspection. This will help you make an informed decision about a very important purchase you are about to make.
Preparing Your Checklist
A home inspector performs a thorough visual inspection of the property’s systems and structures. These include:
- Roofing The condition of the roofing will be assessed. If it has been replaced, the date and type of material used as replacement will be noted.
- Plumbing The plumbing system is the vein of the house, which means that not only will you rely on plumbing for water, you also need it to be stable and robust. A defective plumbing system can easily set you back by a few thousand dollars if it happens to need repair and replacement. There is also a safety issue associated with the system.
- Water Filtration System If the plumbing system is connected to a water well or the city water system, you may or may not require a water filtration system. Although water sourced from city water systems are generally safe for consumption and general use, you may want to consider the existence of a water filtration system in the property as an added feature. This is especially important if the water is being sourced from a well. Deep wells extract underground water, which may not always be safe to drink. Ground water is susceptible to contamination, which means that a working water filtration system is a must.
- Structural and Foundation The base, posts, walls, beams, and ceilings of each room or area must be inspected to determine if they are still reliable. Cracks, gaps, joint problems, or foundation shifts very often require repairs. The inspection must be performed both on the inside and the outside of the property.
- Electrical System Any problems with the electrical system can present comfort and safety issues. Fixtures, outlets, and wiring should be inspected to identify any problems and ensure that the house is safe for its future residents.
- Exterior The exterior is part of the structural and foundation inspection but special attention must also be given to it. Look for problems with downspouts and gutters, and make sure that the condition of the exterior materials is noted. Keep in mind that any replacements, repairs, and repainting that may be necessary will add up to the cost of owning the property.
The Home Inspection as Contingency
It is important to obtain a full disclosure statement from the seller prior to inspecting a property. This document will state any and all repairs and replacements that were done on the house. The home inspector should focus on these areas to determine their condition and the quality of the work and material/s. Having the home inspected professionally can be beneficial to you as a buyer because the results of the procedure can be utilized as a contract contingency. This will allow you to refuse to sign the purchase offer without paying any penalties if the home inspector identifies significant and/or serious damages and defects. A contingency will help ensure your protection and rights as a buyer and allow you to walk away if necessary.