HOME INSPECTIONS FOR BUYERS
Buying a house is a major financial venture and an investment in your future. A home is more than a place to live or a means of shelter. For most individuals, it is the cornerstone of their life. This is a place where friends and family gather to celebrate, where the children play, where we feel safe and secure. It is our very own private refuge.
One of the many steps in a major real estate purchase is to have a home inspection on the property you want to buy. The home inspection can often become an anxious situation for all parties involved in the transaction, especially so if a faulty roof, foundation, or wiring is found by the inspector. Inspectors will also red flag some of the smallest of items such as a loose tile in the kitchen or broken sprinkler head on the lawn. However, situations like this can be avoided and the effect tremendously minimized with a pre-sale home inspection. Just as a homebuyer’s inspection is for the buyer’s peace of mind, the pre-sale home inspection is for the seller’s peace of mind. The seller has time to find acceptable and affordable remedies prior to placing the property on the market. Realistically, this process gives the seller a strong indication of how the entire home sale process will play out.
“Home owners cannot afford surprises. Everything may look fine on the
surface, but there may be trouble lurking,” says Don Crawford, past
President of the National Association of Home Inspectors, Inc.
(NAHI). Homebuyers want to make sure the home they are considering is structurally sound and that all the major and minor components are not only functioning at the time of the inspection, but are also going to have a reasonable life expectancy that is comparable to the price the sellers are asking.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM A HOME INSPECTION
During a home inspection, the home inspector will concentrate on the condition and structure of the home and point out observed safety concerns. The home inspection is a visual inspection of the house —home inspectors do not do any destructive testing, nor can they inspect what they cannot see.
A professional home inspector should, at a minimum, inspect the following items:
Exterior Home Site
Foundation and Slab
Exterior Home Walls
Roof, Roof Coverings, Flashings and Gutters
Visible interior and exterior plumbing
Doors and Windows
Fireplace and Chimney
Pool and Spa
Decks, Awning, Porches, and Railing
Home inspectors are hired by the home buyer, and often by a home seller, to be a disinterested third party in the real estate transaction. A home inspector should not offer to make the needed repairs to a home nor should they provide you with specific referrals for home repairs or renovations. For any necessary repairs, consumers should hire professionals with no connection to the inspector or the other party in the transaction.
Home inspectors are generalists — they need to know the home’s many systems and components and how they work, both independently and together. In addition, they need to understand why and how the system(s) fail. Consumers should expect a written report to describe the actual condition of the home at the time of the inspection and to provide an indication of the need for major repairs.
WHAT NOT TO EXPECT FROM A HOME INSPECTION
Home inspectors do not do any destructive testing, nor do they have x- ray vision. Consumers should not expect their reports to include the condition of every nail, wire or pipe in the home. The home inspector is primarily concerned with pointing out adverse conditions and/or safety- related concerns, rather than small or cosmetic items, which are considered readily apparent to the buyers.
In addition, the home buyer should not expect the inspector’s report to serve as a guarantee that the home’s components will not ever fail or need repair at some point in the future. No house is perfect — they all need regular maintenance and repair.