Before you buy a home, one of the things you should do is to have it checked out by a professional home inspector. Yes, we can hear your objection: “Buying a home is expensive enough as it is! Why would I choose to fork over hundreds more if I’m not required to?” In this article, we’ll delve into what a home inspector can reveal and whether it’s worth the investment.
The Home Inspection Contingency
Home inspections are used to provide an opportunity for a buyer to identify any major issues with a home prior to closing. Your first clue that a home inspection is important is that it can be used as a contingency in your contract with the seller. This contingency provides that if significant defects are revealed by a home inspection, you can back out of your purchase offer, free of penalty, within a certain timeframe. The potential problems a home can have must be pretty serious if they could allow you to walk away from such a significant contract.
In some situations, Realtors are also known to include home inspection clauses in contracts, such as those for a newly built residence. In new home construction, inspections generally cover:
- Foundations: Checking before the concrete is poured (once poured, there’s very little that can be corrected).
- Pre-drywall: Checking the structure and mechanics before the drywall is laid.
- Full inspection: A full walk-through is performed of the completed home.
What a Home Inspection Covers
Inspectors vary in experience, ability, and thoroughness, but a good inspector should examine certain components of the home and then produce a report covering his or her findings. The typical inspection lasts two to three hours and you should be present for the inspection to get a firsthand explanation of the inspector’s findings and, if necessary, ask questions. Also, any problems the inspector uncovers will make more sense if you see them in person instead of relying solely on the snapshot photos in the report.
The inspector should note:
- Whether each problem is a safety issue, major defect, or minor defect
- Which items need replacement and which should be repaired or serviced
- Items that are suitable for now but that should be monitored closely
A really good inspector will even tell you about routine maintenance that should be performed, which can be a great help if you are a first-time homebuyer.
Credit: AMY FONTNELLE, Updated Jun 25, 2019