Home inspections are limited, non-invasive, examinations of the condition of a home. The sale of a home is often contingent on a home inspection. Typically, home inspections are conducted by a home inspector who has the training and certifications to perform such inspections. The inspector prepares and delivers to the client a written report of findings. The client then uses the knowledge gained in the report to make informed decisions about their pending real estate purchase. The report describes the condition of the home at the time of inspection but does not guarantee the future condition, efficiency, or life expectancy of systems or components.
Buyers should have an inspection done even if they are buying a brand-new home.
Just because a home is new does not mean you should not have it inspected. Just as you can purchase a new car that is a lemon you can purchase a new home with defects. Reliance on the builder’s one- or two-year warranty is the most common reason why buyers of new homes forgo home inspections. Some defects that could be revealed by an inspection may take much longer that the warranty period to show up.
A home inspection does not just provide you with a list of problems to negotiate with the seller to have fixed or something catastrophic that may cause you back out of the deal altogether. It will provide you a detailed report that is something of a “new owner’s manual” for the home. It is your opportunity to learn the exact condition of the house including maintenance tips and schedules you should follow.
Occasionally home inspections are confused with a real estate appraisal. An inspection determines the condition of a structure and all its components including but not limited to plumbing, electrical, roofing, doors/windows and siding. An appraisal determines the value of a property. While not all states or municipalities regulate home inspectors, there are professional associations for home inspectors that provide education, training and networking opportunities. A professional home inspection is a snapshot in time of the current condition of a house. It is not a building inspection; building inspection is a term often used for building code compliance inspections in the United States.
Most inspectors, at a minimum, will invite you and your agent for a walk-through with them at the end of the inspection. You can ask to attend the entire inspection if you wish. If this is the case plan on being there for several hours. Your inspector should explain your home’s systems and give you maintenance tips. Those should also be in the final report, along with pictures. But hearing and seeing it in person is helpful. Your Realtor can provide you with contact information for reputable home inspectors.
Home inspections can be used as a contingency in your purchase offer. This contingency provides that if significant defects are revealed by a home inspection, you can back out of your offer, free of penalty, within a certain timeframe.
A home inspection is an added expense in the process of purchasing a home but in the long run you will be glad you did it. The inspection can reveal problems that you may be able to have the current owners to fix before you move in, saving you time and money. Or, you may ask for a reduction in the asking price. If you are a first-time homebuyer, an inspection can give you a crash course in home maintenance and a checklist of items that need attention to make your home as safe and sound as possible. Do not skip this important step in the home-buying process – it’s worth every penny.