The Importance of Having a Home Inspector
Total Read Time: 5 minutes
Competition when searching for the next place you call home is hard, I get it. If you're lucky, you've only had your offer rejected a couple of times during your home search. Between all the offers that are being thrown at houses, you have to make yours stand out amongst all the others, and a common way prospective home buyers are doing that is by waiving the inspection. And while you might be tempted to do just that, even for a new build, you know what would be even worse?
Making a $400,000+ investment on a home that you know absolutely NOTHING about.
Unless the sellers offer a pre-inspection, it is always in your best interest to have an inspection done. Even on new builds and freshly remodeled homes. Which, believe it or not, often times have just as much if not more problems with them compared to older homes. With how quickly houses are built nowadays, it's sadly an unfortunate scenerio and builders are known to take shortcuts. Entire windows have been known to be boarded over on the inside, toilet paper holders pierce pipes in the wall (causing hidden leaks), tubs have not been secured to floors, balcony railings are not secured, and more. Depending on your financing, (such as VA financing), you are not allowed to waive the inspection, as they are required.
How do I find an Inspector?
Often times, your realtor has a few in their network that they have used in the past and trust, but that doesn't mean you can't provide one of your own. A good place to find them is through a quick internet search for your zipcode.
How much will it cost?
Depending on the size (and sometimes age) of the home, you can expect to pay around $500. Some inspectors have a fixed price, while others may charge depending on the square footage of the home. While an inspector should always be thorough, regardless of the age of the home, they tend to take more caution with older homes as they check for things like lead, old electrical wiring, and other issues common with historic homes. With larger homes, there is more ground to cover, and the inspection will simply take longer and potentially cost more.
What will an Inspector do for me?
A good inspector will offer pictures and a very lengthy, often 20+ page report with detailed descriptions of their findings (often times, they have more photos and even videos upon request). Their job is to purely give a report of the current visual state of the home on the day of inspection (they will not open any walls, though some inspectors do have thermal cameras and moisture sensors that help detect leaks) and will notify if anything within your home don't meet current standards. Inspectors have to be very careful with their wording on reports (or else they will be held liable) and should not give any personal opinions on their findings. Their report is not a warranty, or a guarantee. It is also important to note that some inspectors are only certified to do home inspections, and nothing more. Some extra inspections that may be required for a home are: pools, wells, septic, mold, and wood destroying insects, which are seperate certifications. If your home inspector sees something outside of their jurisdiction, they will often suggest a specialist.
While some state inspectors are required to check for specific things for that geographical area (for example, Florida inspectors check the hurricane rating on windows), in general they will check:
The roof (ex: state of shingles, nail pops), attic (ex: trusses, insulation), crawl space, foundation, basement, plumbing (ex: toilets, sinks, tubs, drainage and flow rate with multiple sinks on), HVAC, electrical (ex: output of every switch/outlet, what type of wiring is in the house), whether house is level, anything that is not up to code, yard drainage, yard vegetation with respect to the house (ex: there is a giant tree that has limbs going over the roof), gutters, windows (ex: double/single pane, material), doors (are they fire coded?), general state of the rooms and flooring (are there potential trip hazards?), and if there appears to be a leaks. They should also give the age of major appliances within the home (such as a furnace) and expected lifespan of that appliance so you know if it is expected to need replacing soon. They also check for permits, and by extension a lien holder check.
Getting an inspection is more than just a part of the process of buying a house, it is a vital componet to your decision making and should be read throughly. Often times, the findings in an inspection can be used to help negotiate final terms of offers with the sellers. In the end, it is ultimately up to you whether you as the buyer want to risk going into a large purchase without vital information, and many buyers do end up doing that and buying the house "as-is." If your offer was accepted and you didn't have an inspector prior to your purchase, you can still get one even after you have moved in--it's just nice to know what you are getting into beforehand. For many buyers, an inspection period is useful because it tells them whether the amount of work needed on a home is worth it to them, not only mentally but financially as well. If you are within a certain budget and a home needs a brand new roof, that could add tens of thousands of dollars from your wallet, and is something that can't really be "saved for later" if it is leaking and compromising your home.