Buying a home can be one of the best financial investment decisions ever made by anyone. But how can you ensure that the dream home you’re about to buy is not an abode of structural nightmares? Only months after moving in, people get to know of the leaking walls and cracked ceilings of their homes. The cost for these repairs can be tens of thousands and may go up with time depending on the volume of repair. More importantly, living inside such a house would also imply that the safety of your family is at innate risk.
Solely trusting the builder’s reputation and making surface observations is not enough when the investment is heavy and the risk on safety is high. What matters the most is the condition of the property under the surface. Nowadays, there is such a thing as Private Home Inspection. A Home Inspection company assigns a Private Inspector to assess the state of the flat or house you plan to buy, be it a newly built property or a previously owned or an under-construction house. These inspectors use special equipments such as infrared cameras, voltage indicators, moisture meters, ground-fault circuit-interrupter testers, etc. that help them monitor various aspects of the house such as:
- The sturdiness of the roof
- Thickness of walls
- Internal leaks in bathrooms and kitchens
- Electrical earthing
- Water flow and faucet pressure
While there can be no right time to get a home inspected, most experts advise getting a complete home inspection done before putting up a property for sale or rent. This is because in case your property requires some repairs and maintenance work beforehand, you can get it done on time and avoid any future embarrassment. This would also bring about a huge difference in the final value of the property. Another good opportunity to get your home inspected would be before taking up any renovation activity.
Secret #1: Why you shouldn’t skip home inspection
The process of endless legal transactions begins right after your desired home enters into a contract. Property dealing includes expenses such as lawyer and registrar charges and other paperwork that leave you looking for ways to save money elsewhere. Thus, you may also be tempted to skip the whole home inspection process, but below are 10 good reasons why you shouldn’t.
- Know the issues: A high quality home inspection can reveal all the persisting structural problems of a house. This will make you aware of what repairs require immediate attention. It usually presents the last opportunity to back out of the offer if you aren’t comfortable with the home inspection findings. This step is extremely important while purchasing a property and can save you many bucks.
- Safety: Safety issues such as radon, mold can also be detected through a home inspection. Just make sure that your contract allows you to cancel the offer if such a situation occurs. After all, the safety of your family comes first, right?
- Legal loopholes: A thorough home inspection also reveals whether rooms, garages, basements, attics were completed with a proper permit, or if they followed the general code. Systems which are not installed legally will automatically become the new homeowner’s problem to fix and finance.
- Protection: Home inspection is essential to ensure that you are safe in the property you intend to buy. Properties are often found to develop hazardous mold issues, which are costly to repair and also pose high health risks.
- Finding Negotiating Factors: With home inspections you have an opportunity to discover some hidden repair costs that can be used as negotiation chips when cutting the final deal.
- Better Negotiated Deals: If the seller does not wish to repair issues like cracked walls or ceilings, faulty pipelines, etc, you can work with your realtor to negotiate a better deal, either for complete maintenance of the property or reduction in the price demand.
- Future costs: Inspections let you calculate the operational age of major systems such as pipelines, heating, cooling and other devices. The process helps in identification of the current condition of a system and its longevity. Proper knowledge of the shelf life of these systems lets one make important budgeting decisions and will also determine the type of home insurance coverage he should consider.
- Free Consultation: Finding a trustworthy home inspector will not only benefit you by letting you acquire an excellent property, but also helps in saving you dollars by advising on how to maintain your home in future.
- Seeing beyond the eyes: Experts advise people to hire an inspector to understand the different aspects of a property, which might be the biggest purchase they would ever make. People often make a mistake by going with a property based on the color of the walls, its design or even location, while turning a blind eye to issues that lie underneath its beauty. This may turn their dream home into a nightmare.
- Insurance: Most insurance companies won’t accept a home if it is found even slightly damaged. For example, flooding caused by a leaking pipe or an overflowing toilet is generally covered by insurance companies. However, if the cause is natural or an act of nature, then it is not covered in basic policies. Home inspection can let you get to the bottom of an issue and help you claim your insurance rightfully.
It is your responsibility to fully understand the details about the property that you may soon call ‘home’. A home inspection helps in revealing the nuances of a property and allows you to be informed of all the perks, pitfalls and comfort the home has to offer. After all, it is you and your family who would fully benefit from the service.
All major mechanical systems, structural build, and a few other aspects of the house are covered in-home inspection. This includes:
- Heating and cooling systems
- Interior and exterior
- Exterior walls
Depending upon the complexity of the job, the whole process takes about two to four hours or sometimes even more. Pricing ranges from $300 to $800 for typical homes, but depending on the age and type of the property, it can go higher.
On the inspection day, the inspector usually starts with an initial site evaluation. Then the inspector would take you on the house’s tour to point out the assets that need maintenance. This is the time when you should be paying attention and ask questions. An in-depth inspection can reveal problems related to water leaks, insect infestation, open wiring, poor plumbing, mold and mildew, and safety hazards.
After the inspector is done with the inspection, you will be handed a written report detailing all the findings. The report generally contains photographs and descriptions of the damages and defects found during the inspection along with the location of the damage. Pictures will help you to understand the repair estimates.
Secret #2: Choose the right inspector
Almost all home inspections are thorough, but even a good inspector may miss out a few major defects which can give a headache in the future. Not every inspector you come across would be well trained in the field. That’s why you must check an inspector’s background before hiring them.
An inexperienced inspector can damage a property’s value and the reputation of the owner. An inattentive inspection report can cause a needless alarm to the buyer and may lead to the cancellation of the deal. It is almost impossible to rectify the damage that has been caused once an inspection error has occurred. The buyer’s confidence in the property gets compromised and cannot be restored. There is such a thing as a Disclosure Statement, once an inspection report becomes a part of it, it makes the home even harder to sell. However, to avoid such a situation, below are a few tips on how one can find the right inspector for their potential home.
- Begin the inspector hunt before you shop for a home. If you choose a home first, you may have very little time and would feel pressured to hire the first inspector you meet.
- It is best to look for local home inspectors as they would be familiar with the neighborhood. You can also ask friends and family for recommendations.
- Do your homework and ask questions to the inspectors related to their background, experience, and the number of inspections they’ve performed.
- Try to look for an inspector who has a broad knowledge of a home’s structure and system.
- If your state keeps home inspector records, cross-check with the agency to verify the license of the inspector and check for any complaints.
- If your state does not keep inspector records, ask for their credentials.
- Try to find an inspector who is objective and independent. It will be better if they are not affiliated with the real estate agency selling the home.
- Make sure your inspector carries errors and omissions insurance.
- Make time to speak with different inspectors to ensure that the one you hire is familiar with the type of house you’re buying. Homes of different designs and ages have different risks and hidden damages. Your inspector should be able to tackle the situation accordingly.
- Make sure you have plenty of time left to review the work. You may also request the inspector for an electronic copy, in case you feel the need to share it with friends and family.
Understanding the responsibility of an inspector
The sole responsibility of an inspector is to provide their client with a thorough inspection of the home in the form of a report. The report represents the condition of the property and the defects found at the time of the inspection. It also serves as a useful and informative tool that assists the buyer to understand the condition of the property and lists out the defects that require immediate attention. It is also important to understand that the home inspector has no role to play in the “buying” process. Their sole role is to advise the buyer.
Secret #3: Common mistakes to avoid
A good and thorough home inspection can save you a lot of money. But to truly profit from it, avoid these common mistakes to safeguard your investment. Countless other missteps can cost home buyers a great amount of their time and money, while giving them unwanted stress. Fortunately, here is a list of a few most common and potential pitfalls.
Skipping self-inspection: Don’t entirely rely on a home inspector to point out all the issues in a property. Try to conduct your visual assessment as well and figure out the expected expenses.
Stay in budget: Everyone loves to save money, but not every good service comes cheap. Before hiring an inspector, do a little research of your own. Start by asking your friends or family for recommendations, as well as your real estate agent. Then shortlist at least two or three inspectors and compare their prices and the level of experience they bring with them. This will surely help you filter out the best home inspectors available in your budget.
Be present: Try your best to be available on the site during the inspection. You can miss out on a great opportunity to gather information about your new home. Don’t spend all your time picking out shades for your room or chatting around. Instead, use this time to find out the weak points of your home, ask questions to your inspector, and evaluate repair costs.
Skipping smaller issues: Your inspector may point out a few minor repairs that aren’t typically expected of a seller to fix. However, try not to ignore these small issues as sometimes they can lead to bigger problems. Make sure to read the report thoroughly so that you can take immediate action on the issues that require most attention.
By realizing the importance of home inspection and understanding its different aspects that are often missed by the general public, you are now ready for a stringent home inspection and make it a sure shot success.