Home buying is a funny thing. When your offer to buy is accepted, your mind opens up to all sorts of creative ideas and inspirations. A new kitchen island would be so convenient. New paint and patterns would make the space open up.
But before you can do any of these things, you’d better have that home inspected.
Why is an inspection so important? An independent home inspection protects you. Even if your lender doesn’t require an inspection, you should get one. It gives you a comprehensive and objective picture of the condition of your home-to-be before you make a final decision. Many home insurance companies will not insure a home if it has not undergone a certified inspection. A proper inspection could even help you avoid buying the wrong home—saving you a load of aggravation and thousands of dollars in the long run.
Here are answers to some of the biggest, most common questions homebuyers ask about home inspections.
Why should I have a professional home inspection?
For your own protection, a qualified professional home inspector will carefully examine and evaluate the physical condition of the structure and the house’s mechanical systems, or any items that should be repaired or replaced.
Because the purchase is likely one of the biggest investments you will ever make, the inspection will provide information you need to feel confident about the condition of the home you’re purchasing. The inspection ensures you’ll be able to make a smart, informed decision—the National Association of Realtors reports that nearly four of every five homes on the market in the U.S. are evaluated by a professional home inspector before the sale is closed.
In most instances, home inspections will reveal problems. If they are minor enough to keep you interested in buying the house in its present condition, you can use them as bargaining chips and renegotiate the purchase price of the home.
How can I find an inspector?
Your real estate agent or lender can connect you with a home inspector. You can also find an inspector through the American Society of Home Inspectors at ashi.com, along with a list of states that require licensing.
It’s a good idea to check a prospective inspector’s credentials and other homeowner’s reviews on sites like Angie’s List, Yelp and Google: Like any review of other products or services you would buy—a hotel stay, dinner at a restaurant, auto-repair service—the more reviews the better. Talk to your friends and family who have bought houses recently and ask about their experiences with a home inspector.
Ask if your inspector is licensed as many states don’t require certification. For specifics, consult your real estate agent and/or attorney.
What will it cost?
The inspection fee for a typical one-family house varies geographically, and will also vary depending upon the house’s size, particular features, and age. According to HomeAdvisor, the average home inspection costs around $315, with condos and small homes under 1,000 square feet costing as little as $200. Larger homes over 2,000 square feet will run $400 or more. Radon or mold testing will cost extra, but will typically cost less if you purchase them with a home inspection.
When do I call in the home inspector?
Most buyers get inspections after the contract or purchase agreement has been signed, and is often available within a few days.
All of the major components of the home should be visually inspected. Sometimes, an inspector will recommend a specific type of contractor to further examine a section or element of the home.
Some home components might not be covered: foundation problems, pest control, and others. Ask ahead if the inspector can show experience in dealing with such issues, or if another firm can do those inspections—and what extra costs will be involved.
How long does an inspection take?
A typical inspection usually takes two to three hours depending on size, age and condition of the home and any additional services provided.
Do I need to be present during the inspection?
It’s a good idea to be present for the home inspection so the inspector can address any concerns or questions you may have. The inspector’s goal is not just to inspect the property, but also to educate you about the property’s condition. Click here for more information.
Do I need a report?
It’s standard to receive a written report outlining details about the home and the inspection results, including photographs. Components inspected should include the roof, heating and cooling units, plumbing, electrical system, structure, foundation, major appliances, the attic, crawlspace and more.
Do I need anything else?
You may want to have other inspections and tests performed, such as lead-based paint tests, radon tests and furnace heat exchanger inspections. In some parts of the country, lenders will require a termite inspection. When you’re buying a new home with a well water system, lenders require a well inspection. Contact your local public health department for more information.
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Resources: American Society of Home Inspectors, HomeAdvisor, Inc., AmeriSpec