Should You Get A Home Inspection?

Absolutely, positively, always
BY: MARSHA MELLOW

A home inspection is an objective, professionally done visual examination of the structure and systems of a house, from the roof to the foundation. You go to the doctor for physical exam and take your car in for checkups, why not do the same for your house?

A professional home inspection is an examination of the current condition of a house. It is not an appraisal, which determines market value. It is not a municipal inspection, which verifies local code compliance. A home inspector, therefore, will not pass or fail a house, but rather describe its physical condition and indicate what components and systems may need major repair or replacement.

If you are selling, get your own inspector before you put your home on the market. The last thing you want is to have a contract on the table, only to hear the inspector has found dry rot. If you know in advance, you can take care of it. If a home inspection turns out well, it is likely the buyers will feel good about their purchase and not ask for costly fixes or concessions. If you call for the inspection yourself, and not wait for the buyer to do it, time is on your side. You can fix problems on your terms for far less than you will likely spend if you’re rushed for time. Think of it like a physical that will only keep your home healthy and more valuable.

And if you call your own inspection, getting a clean bill of health, it helps you make decisions. You can pick your home projects and spend your money with confidence.

The standard home inspector’s report will cover the condition of the home’s heating system; central air conditioning system, interior plumbing, and electrical systems; the roof, attic and visible insulation; walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors; And don’t forget the foundation, basement and structural components.

The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) publishes a Standards of Practice Code of Ethics outlines what you should expect to be covered in your home inspection report. In the United States it will be difficult to get a mortgage without a home inspection, here no. And here there are no standards here, and no punishment if an inspector fails to find something that later becomes a costly problem. There is no licensing of home inspectors.

Never the less, try and get an inspector who knows more than you. If you think you know it all, say you’re in construction, just think about a friend from Alaska who turned down a home inspection on his new purchase because he is very knowledgeable about construction. Wrong answer. Turns out the house had $7,000 worth of termite damage he now had to pay for. They don’t have termites in Alaska so he had never seen the telltale termite poop before.

Buying a home could be the largest single investment you will ever make. To minimize bad surprises, 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. 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. There are a couple of guys here who were licensed in the States as home inspectors, but one of them is too old to be crawling around anymore, and we wouldn’t recommend the other guy, so you are on your own. And for gosh sakes don’t just take your Realtor’s recommendation, because if he fails your home he will never get another job from that person.

While it’s not required that you be present for the inspection, it is highly recommended because you will be able to observe the inspector and ask questions as you learn about the condition of your home and how to maintain it.

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.

Say the inspector found nothing wrong, have I wasted my money? No, now you can complete your home purchase with confidence, and you’ll have learned many things about your new home from the inspector’s written report, and will have that information for future reference.