A home inspection is an objective visual examination of the physical condition and systems of a house, from the roof covering to the foundation and/or basement floor. A typical home inspection report will cover the condition of a home’s roof, attic and visible insulation; the foundation, basement and structural components; heating and air conditioning systems (temperature permitting); interior plumbing and electrical systems; walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors.
There are several reasons for having a home inspected. For many people buying a home is the largest single investment they will ever make. To reduce the possibility of unexpected surprises and difficulties, you will want to learn as much as you can about the newly constructed or existing house before closing the deal. 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 informed decisions. If you are planning on selling your home, a pre-listing inspection will give you the opportunity to make repairs putting the house in better selling condition.
Just as the cost of housing varies depending on location so do inspection fees. In addition, the inspection fee will vary depending on several other factors such as the size of the house, its age and possible optional services such as septic, radon or other environmental testing and out-buildings. The cost of an inspection should not be a factor in deciding whether to have a home inspection or in the selection of your home inspector. Knowledge gained from a home inspection is well worth the cost, however, the lowest-priced inspection is not always a bargain. Use the inspector’s qualifications, including training and certifications, any experience in the building trades and time in the business as a guide. Real estate agents and brokers familiar with inspections should be able to provide you with names of reputable inspectors. Also, family or friends who have had inspections done in the past are a good resource.
Home inspections are not pass/fail. A home inspector will not pass or fail a house but describe its physical condition and what components and/or systems may need major repair or replacement. 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 you are on a tight budget, or 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 or reduce the asking price. If it turns out the house is in good condition you can complete the purchase with confidence. You will have learned important things about your new home from the inspector’s written report and will have that information for future reference.
Home inspectors are typically contacted following the signing of a contract or purchase agreement. Before signing, be sure there is an inspection clause in the sales contract. The purchase should be contingent on the findings of a home inspection specifying the terms and conditions agreed to by both the buyer and seller. It is not required that you attend the inspection. However, it is recommended that you attend a walk-through of the inspection. It is not necessary to observe the inspector testing every electrical outlet, plumbing fixture, door and window. On a walk-through at the end of and inspection you will be able to ask questions and you learn about the condition of the home and how to maintain it.