Why Do I Need a Home Inspection?

Once you have an accepted contract on a home, it is time to hire a professional inspector to check out the systems and other aspects of the house you may not always see at the initial showing.  A home inspection is not meant to be a means for finding problems with the house.  Rather it is an opportunity for you, the buyer, to become more familiar with your new home.

What is a home inspection?

     Whether you’re buying or selling a home, the home inspection is probably one of the items at the top of a lengthy “to do” list.   But what is involved? How much does it cost? Why is it done in the first place?  It’s important to understand what a home inspection entails and how it affects the sale of your home or the purchase of a new one. The more you know, the less likely you are to get ripped off or taken by surprise.

     First of all, let’s clear up a commonly misunderstood point: a home inspection is not the same as an appraisal. An appraisal is an estimate of a property’s overall market value. A home inspection is much more detailed and practical. It is also not a code inspection and therefore does not report on building code compliance or give a “passing” or “failing” grade. It is defined as an objective visual examination of the structure and systems of a home by an impartial, neutral third party not related to the buyer or seller.

     The purchase of a home is probably the largest single investment you will ever make. You should learn as much as you can about the condition of the property and the need for any major repairs before you buy, so that you can minimize unpleasant surprises and difficulties afterward.

     Of course, a home inspection also points out the positive aspects of a home, as well as the maintenance that will be necessary to keep it in good shape. After the inspection, you will have a much clearer understanding of the property you are about to purchase.

How much does it cost?

Expect your inspection to cost anywhere from $200 to $500 depending on the size of the house. Don’t let cost be a factor in deciding whether or not to have a home inspection; several hundred dollars is a small price to pay for the knowledge you’ll gain about one of the most important investments you’ll ever make. 

Can I do it myself?

Even the most experienced homeowner probably lacks the knowledge and expertise of a professional home inspector who has inspected hundreds of homes in his career.

 An inspector is familiar with the many elementsof home construction, their proper installation, and maintenance. He understands how the home’s systems and components are intended to function together, as well as how and why they fail.

Additionally, most buyers find it very difficult to remain completely objective and unemotional about the house they really want, and this may affect their judgment.
For the most accurate information, it is best to obtain an impartial third-party opinion by an expert in the home inspection field.

You can, however, be present at the inspection. In fact, it’s a good idea to be there for a couple of reasons: You can ask the inspector questions during the inspection. The inspector will have the opportunity to point out areas of potential trouble, which will mean more to you if you see if with your own eyes than if you read it in the inspector’s report later. And many inspectors will offer maintenance tips as the inspection progresses.

What do the results mean?

No house is perfect. If the inspector identifies problems, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you shouldn’t buy the house. However, the seller is not required to make any repairs, replacements, or maintenance since this is not a code inspection. Instead, the buyer can use the inspection report as a negotiating tool, or the seller may decide to adjust the purchase price, the contract terms, or credit money to the buyer at closing to pay for any necessary repairs. In some cases, if the problems are more than the buyer wants to take on, the contingency clause in the contract may allow the buyer to pull out of the transaction at this stage.

Even if the report reveals no major problems, the decision to hire an inspector was still worth the investment. Now you can complete your home purchase with a realistic understanding of the condition of the property and all its equipment and systems. Be sure to save your written inspection report for future reference.