What is a home inspection? A home inspection is a visual evaluation of the readily accessible systems and components of a primary residential structure. A home inspection report is the written product of this evaluation. Because there exists no established objective criterion for the condition of the home prior to title transfer or sale, there is no passing or failing of a home inspection. There are many factors that are not in the scope of a home inspection that would aid in the determination of the acceptability of a home’s condition. The assessed value of a home is dynamic depending on many factors, such as market trends, past sales of comparable property, the condition of the property, etc. The expertise of a real estate professional is a valuable tool in determining the weight given to the condition of the property in this formula.
Why do I need a home inspection? Buying a home could be the largest single investment you will ever make. To minimize unpleasant surprises and unexpected difficulties, you’ll want to learn as much as you can about the newly constructed or existing house before you buy it. A home inspection may identify the need for major repairs or builder oversights, as well as the need for maintenance to keep it in good shape. After the inspection, you will know more about the house, which will allow you to make decisions with confidence. If you already are a homeowner, a home inspection can identify problems in the making and suggest preventive measures that might help you avoid costly future repairs. If you are planning to sell your home, a home inspection can give you the opportunity to make repairs that will put the house in better selling condition.
What will it cost? The inspection fee for a typical one-family house varies geographically, as does the cost of housing. Similarly, within a given area, the inspection fee may vary depending on a number of factors such as the size of the house, its age and possible optional services such as septic, well or radon testing. Do not let cost be a factor in deciding whether or not to have a home inspection or in the selection of your home inspector. The sense of security and knowledge gained from an inspection is well worth the cost, and the lowest-priced inspection is not necessarily a bargain. Use the inspector’s qualifications, including experience, training, compliance with your state’s regulations, if any, and professional affiliations as a guide.
Why can't I do it myself? Even the most experienced homeowner lacks the knowledge and expertise of a professional home inspector. An inspector is familiar with the elements of home construction, proper installation, maintenance and home safety. He or she knows how the home’s systems and components are intended to function together, as well as why they fail. Above all, most buyers find it difficult to remain completely objective and unemotional about the house they really want, and this may have an effect on their judgment. For accurate information, it is best to obtain an impartial, third-party opinion by a professional in the field of home inspection.
What if the report reveals problems? No house is perfect. If the inspector identifies problems, it doesn’t mean you should or shouldn’t buy the house, only that you will know in advance what to expect. If your budget is tight, or if you don’t want to become involved in future repair work, this information will be important to you. If major problems are found, a seller may agree to make repairs.
If the house proves to be in good condition, did I really need an inspection? Definitely. Now you can complete your home purchase with confidence. You’ll have learned many things about your new home from the inspector’s written report, and will have that information for future reference.