You should never close on a home without first receiving a home inspection. Once the home inspector examines the house, he or she will create a report. If there are any major issues, you can then either negotiate with the seller on price or determine how the problem might be fixed.
If you find a house on which you want to place an offer, always include a contingency clause based on the home inspection. Spending the money on a good home inspection is worth every penny, so you’re not out that much money and more if there is a serious issue with the home once you’ve bought it.
A home inspection is more than just a simple walk-through. Your home should be inspected by someone certified by the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). Certified members have performed at least 250 inspections, have passed two written exams, and adhere to ASHI’s standards of practice, continuing education requirements, and code of ethics.
It’s a good idea to interview several inspectors before choosing one. Ask the following questions:
- What does the inspection cover? Does the inspection and inspection report meet all applicable requirements?
- How many homes have you inspected? This number should be at least 250.
- How long will the inspection take? The average time is about two to three hours for a typical single-family house. Anything less than that may not be enough time for a thorough inspection. If there is a team of inspectors, this time may be shorter.
- How much will the inspection cost? The cost varies, so make sure that you compare to find the best inspection for the best value.
- Does the inspector encourage the client to attend the inspection? It’s very important for homeowners to attend the inspection because you can learn how things work around the house before you buy it. The inspector might bring things to your attention you would not otherwise notice. If the inspector discourages you from attending, find another one.
Once you’ve found an inspector that you like, ask for references, and follow up with those references.
Here is a list of general home inspection items that should be covered in your home inspection:
- Structural elements such as walls, ceilings, floors, roof, and foundation.
- Exterior items such as landscaping, grading, elevation, drainage, driveways, fences, porches, windows, doors, trim, and lights.
- Roof and attic, framing, and gutters.
- Plumbing, drains, pipes, toilets, showers, sinks, and faucets.
- Appliances and systems such as water heater, furnace, air conditioning, ducts, fireplace, sprinklers, kitchen appliances, and smoke detectors.
- Electrical systems, circuit breakers, wiring, grounding, exhaust fans, ceiling fans, and light fixtures.
- Garage, slab, entry, garage door, openers, lights, windows, and roof.
Serious red flags in a home inspection include:
- Health and safety issues
- Bad roofs
- Furnace and/or A/C malfunctions
- Foundation issues
- Moisture and/or drainage issues
Some issues may be fixed by the seller; however, you may want to hire your own contractor to fix the issues so you can supervise the repairs and have the seller compensate for the major issues. A contractor can assist you in determining the costs of fixing any repairs that are noted in a home inspector’s report or if they even need to be fixed. Some defects and issues are minor.
Some homebuyers feel that a home inspection is unnecessary. However, getting one can save a lot of money in the long run.