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Section 10: What To Know About Home Inspections

Before closing the deal on your highly anticipated new home, you need to order a home inspection.  It will help you to evaluate the home's condition.

Why Do You Need A Home Inspection?

Home inspections cost money and take time, but if there are serious issues found, more time and money is saved after the deal is closed.  You need a home inspection to know what exactly you are buying and what to expect from your property in the future.

During this process, specialists will examine the house to determine its condition and viability of all systems.  Do not confuse the home inspection with the home appraisal.  The inspection will clarify the current state and condition of the house, not what it is worth.

After the inspections, you will receive a report containing suggestions for future maintenance or repair steps, or the need for additional expert opinions.  For example, a structural engineer, should the inspection disclose faults in the building structure.

Inspections, Inspectors, And Common Mistakes

There are different types of home inspections available.  General or residential inspections will observe and give an evaluation of the home's elements and systems.

The list below is a basic set of suggestions, which may be expanded or shortened to suit your needs:

Exterior:  Water drainage systems, condition of outside elements such as trees, pathways, fences, decks, stairs, and notable cosmetic issues.

Structural Elements:  Construction type and quality, visible foundation and framing condition.

Plumbing System:  Leaks, water pressure, faucets, showers, material and aging of pipes, hot water system, and septic system.

Electrical System:  Check electric boxes for condition and code, visible wiring, type and condition, and safety issues.

Heating, Ventilation, And Air Conditioning (HVAC):  Inspect chimneys, vents, house insulation, and ducting.  Inspect A/C systems for age, condition, and proper function.

Laundry Room:  Ventilation and dryer systems, search for leaks and potential fire hazards.

Bathrooms:  Bathtub, shower sink, and toilet inspection.  Proper ventilation and plumbing.

Kitchen Appliances (if part of the purchase):  Properly working devices and correct installation.  Condition and quality.

Fire Safety:  Smoke detectors in place and operating, quality and condition of fireplaces.

Pest Inspection:  Inspect for presence of wood-boring and other insects, molds and fungi.

A good expert is hard to find, but choosing the right inspector is key to a thorough and comprehensive report.  Your real estate agent can recommend inspectors, but the ultimate responsibility is yours.  Research inspectors and read customer reviews.  It is important to research, but do not go into paralysis through analysis.  Time is of the essence, start researching before you make an offer on a property.  That way when the time comes, you are ready to schedule the inspection.

Always attend the inspection.  Do not rely on the inspection report only.  This is your opportunity to tour the property with an inspection expert.  See the features and condition up close in the company of an expert who can and will point out flaws you might not recognize on your own.

Do not be afraid to ask questions.  Things that are common knowledge to an inspector may be new to you.  Do not be intimidated to ask for an explanation if you do not understand.

Property inspections apply to new construction also.  Newly built homes can have issues too.  Buying a house may be the biggest purchase of your life, it is not the time to gamble.  Always get an inspection, no exceptions.

What To Do After The Inspection

After reviewing the report, there are three possible outcomes that will dictate how the situation develops.  Best case, everything is fine and no further work is required on the house.

The more likely scenario is that the house requires some minor repairs.  In this case, you can negotiate for repairs and inspect again, or can negotiate a lower price or a credit at closing and make the repairs yourself after the purchase.  Depending on the contract, the seller may not be obligated to make repairs and will not offer any concessions.  You must then decide if you still want to continue with purchase.

The worst case is that the house needs major investment not accounted for in the offer.  You may ask the seller to reconsider the price, ask for the full repairs, or walk away.

Understand that the home inspection is to prevent the buyer from inheriting major issues with the home.  It should not be relied on to determine the value of the home.  The home appraisal is used to determine the market value using analytics based on home features, comparable sales in the area and current market trends.

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