What is a Home Inspection?
A home inspection is a visual examination of the physical structure and systems of a house, from the roof to the foundation.
The standard home inspector’s report will cover the condition of the home’s:
- heating system
- central air conditioning system (temperature permitting)
- interior plumbing and electrical systems
- the roof, attic, and visible insulation
- walls, ceilings, floors, windows, and doors
- the foundation, basement, and structural components
Why Get a Home Inspection?
Buying a home could be the largest single investment you will ever make. To cut unpleasant surprises and unexpected difficulties, you’ll want to learn as much as you can about the constructed or existing house before you buy it. 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 decisions with confidence.
If you already are a homeowner, a home inspection can identify problems in the making and suggest preventive measures that might help you avoid costly future repairs.
If you are planning to sell your home, a home inspection can give you the opportunity to make repairs that will put the house in better selling condition.
The inspection fee for a typical house varies, as does the cost of housing within a given area, the inspection fee may vary depending on many factors such as the size of the house, its age and possible optional services such as septic, well or radon testing. Check our post, “How Much Does a Home Inspection Cost?”
Do not let cost be a factor in deciding whether to have a home inspection or in the selection of your home inspector. The sense of security and knowledge gained from an inspection is well worth the cost, and the lowest-priced inspection is not a bargain. Use the inspector’s qualifications, including experience, training, compliance with your state’s regulations, if any, and professional affiliations as a guide.
Even the most experienced homeowner lacks the knowledge and expertise of a professional home inspector. An inspector is familiar with the elements of home construction, proper installation, maintenance, and home safety. He or she knows how the home’s systems and components are intended to function together, as well as why they fail.
A professional home inspection is an examination of the current condition of a house. It is not an appraisal, which determines market value. It is not a municipal inspection, which verifies local code compliance. A home inspector, thus, will not pass or fail a house, but rather describe its physical condition and state what components and systems may need major repair or replacement.
Above all, most buyers find it difficult to remain completely objective and unemotional about the house they want, and this may have an effect on their judgment. For accurate information, it is best to get an impartial, third-party opinion by a professional in the field of home inspection.
How to Hire a Home Inspector
Typically, a home inspector is contacted immediately after the contract or sale agreement has been signed. Before you sign, be sure there is an inspection clause in the sales contract, making your final sale obligation contingent on the findings of a professional home inspection. This clause should specify the terms and conditions to which both the buyer and seller are obligated.
While it’s not required that you be present for the inspection, it is recommended. You will be able to observe the inspector and ask questions as you learn about the condition of the home and how to maintain it.
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 your budget is tight, or if 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.