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Home Inspections Before You Buy

When buying an expensive dress or suit, most people are careful to ensure there are no buttons missing or seams loose, and that it’s made of a quality fabric.  This is easy enough to do.  Buying a home is no different, except that few of us are equipped with the know-how to ensure that the plumbing, electrical, heating and other major systems are working as well as possible.

Also, after months of house hunting for the “perfect home”, it can be difficult to set emotions aside and really see the kind of shape the place is in.  Problems, which are not always easy to spot, such as bad plumbing, a shaky foundation, poor insulation and a damaged roof, can turn your dream into an expensive nightmare.

That’s why it pays to make a home inspection a condition of your offer to purchase, whether your lending institution insists on an inspection or not.  Before approving financing, some lenders require you to hire a qualified home inspector to go over the inside and outside of the house you want to buy.  This ensures there are no major structural flaws that will threaten the security of their investment.

It’s a precaution every prospective buyer should take.  One of the most important aspects of purchasing a home is knowing the condition of the property in advance.  Knowing the structural flaws and maintenance problems that may creep up on you will help you make a more informed decision about the value of the home you plan to buy and any future costs.

Some buyers will pay to have a property inspected even before they put in an offer.  This way, if they decide they want the house, they can come in with an unconditional offer.  But at an average cost between $200 - $400 for a home inspection, this can get expensive.

During an inspection, the home will be thoroughly evaluated from top to bottom.  All major systems such as plumbing, heating, insulation, electrical and structures, such as the roof, walls, ceilings, floors windows and doors, will be inspected and examined.

An inspection generally lasts about three hours.  It will not tell you the condition of every single component of the home, but will focus on determining potentially large expenses and safety-related concerns.  Most inspectors don’t mind if the prospective buyer tags along.  So, this is also a great opportunity to learn about any major problems first hand and find out ways to keep your future property in good condition.

Following the examination and evaluation, the prospective buyer will be provided with a written report which covers possible defects and areas of concern, as well as estimated costs for any repairs.  The report may also note some of the positive features of the home and recommend ways to keep it in good condition.

Interview a number of home inspectors or inspection companies before you begin house hunting so you know who to call when you need them.  Find out how long they’ve been in business.  Ask for references and proof of membership in professional associations, what the inspection will cover, the cost and if there is any guarantee.  The cost of an inspection usually varies depending on factors such as size, age and location of a home.

Just because a home was recently built doesn’t mean that it is free of flaws.  The quality of construction can vary from builder to builder and sometimes mistakes do happen.  Even if the home you want to buy is still under warranty, it pays to have an inspector find the problems before you move in.

Inspecting a home is no different than having a mechanic inspect a used vehicle.  If it makes sense to check out a car, it makes sense to check out a house worth many times more.



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