A home inspection is a lot like a test-drive a new car, only better. Rather than just punching the accelerator and a few dash buttons to see what they do, during a home inspection, you’ll have a knowledgeable professional in conjunction with you, pointing out details and potential problems you might not take note of otherwise.
A careful home inspection when you’re buying a house can spare you thousands of dollars in unexpected repairs — or from unwittingly buying a money pit.
What a home inspector does
A home inspector will take two to three hours or more completing a point by point walk-through of the home you’re looking to buy. It’s a top-to-bottom review of the physical structure, as well as it’s mechanical and electrical systems — including roof, ceilings, walls, floors, windows, and doors. The reviewer will check that major appliances are functional, scrutinize the heating and air-conditioning system, look at the plumbing and electrical systems and crawl up into the attic and down into the basement.
All the while, the inspector will be taking notes and pictures and, if you’re labeling along, commenting on what he sees. Most vitally, the inspector will give an objective opinion on the home’s condition, detached from the emotional roller coaster you’ve been on during the whole home buying process.
What a home inspector doesn’t do
A home inspection may be a common checkup, not an X-ray exam. In spite of the fact that home inspectors should have a keen eye for detail, they won’t be able to distinguish the unseen. That means hidden pests, asbestos, and mold or other possibly unsafe substances might go unnoticed. Those sorts of issues can require specialized evaluations, perhaps even a geologist or structural engineer.
An inspector might have a thought or two on child security issues found in the home, but again, that depends on the inspector’s experience and competencies. And a home inspector doesn’t necessarily determine whether your home is compliant with local building codes.
The goal of the inspection is to uncover issues with the home itself. Inspectors won’t tell you in case you’re getting a great deal on the home or offer an opinion on the sale price.
An inspection is not a pass/fail exam. But you’ll learn much about your potential new home and gain confidence in the choice to move into your new address — or find out sufficient to pass on the purchase.
The home inspection report
A good home inspection report is extensive, containing checklists, summaries, photos, and notes. It’ll gauge the remaining valuable life of major systems and equipment, as well as that of the roof, structure, paint, and finishes. The critical information you may pick up will include suggested repairs and substitutions, too.
How to find a home inspector
Home inspectors aren’t federally regulated, and they’re not even licensed in all states. You’ll get to look for our recommendations. Friends and work colleagues may have a few good names to share.
You’ll be able to search the databases of professional associations, such as the National Association of Domestic Inspectors, the American Society of Home Inspectors and the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors. Such organizations ordinarily require members to pass an exam, honor a code of ethics and complete continuing education.
It’s a best practice to meet candidates before making a choice. That’s when you can find out about experience, training, and areas of skill. For example, if you’re considering a fixer-upper or looking at an older home, you’ll need an inspector who has skill and information with respect to renovations of notable structures. In a few zones, home inspectors are affiliated with the state real estate commission and must be authorized and comply with state regulations and procedures.
And get references from earlier clients, particularly homeowners who have been in their domestic for at least six months. That way you’ll decide whether any issues popped up that were unreported in their inspection.
Be a part of the process
It’s a good idea to connect the inspector on his home tour. You don’t have to climb into the attic with him or creep beneath the porch, but follow along where you’ll and take notes. He may make a few incredible home improvement suggestions along the way — as well as point out peculiarities and one of a kind features.
In spite of the fact that Home inspections can turn up genuine defects, each house will have its flaws. You might choose to think of many of these as essentially endearing beauty marks.