Having just signed a sales contract on a home, you may be feeling some financial pressure, wondering how it’s all going to come together: the down payment, the closing costs, the mortgage insurance payment, the loan payment, the move-in expenses, the initial repairs, etc. In the face of this pressure, you may be tempted to skip the home inspection. Don’t. It may be vital to your personal and financial safety.
Any home is bound to have defects. Maybe the furnace was replaced just last winter. How do you know it was installed properly? Maybe the door frame that’s slanting slightly in the older home you’re planning to buy is just part of its charm… or perhaps it’s evidence that termites have hollowed out a supporting girder. What if there’s a crack in the chimney? Since the current homeowners never use the fireplace, they may not know the crack is there, but the first time you build a fire, you could be setting your roof on fire. Even if the home is brand new, are you willing to take the builder’s word that he/she did everything as promised? The potential problems are endless, and the cost of ignoring them could be astronomical.
A home inspection is essentially a visual process meant to uncover any glaring problems and help you reduce any risks you might encounter by moving into a home. A professional inspector has specific technical skills, but he/she will not take anything apart and is not licensed to make any repairs. Nevertheless, an inspection can provide grounds for a repair addendum to your sales contract and/or help you plan for future repairs. For example, if you have an inspection contingency in your sales contract and the inspection reveals that the home needs a new roof, you will have three options: ask the seller to make the repairs before you close on the home, ask the seller to compensate you for the cost of replacing the roof, or void your contract. Or, negotiate.
A professional inspector will examine:
- Furnaces and air conditioners (within limits)
- Pilot lights
- Fuse boxes
- Main water shut-off controls
- Walls and partitions
- The roof
- Windows and doors
- Your plumbing system
- The electrical system
- Energy efficiency
Additional inspections can evaluate:
- Wells and septic systems
- Swimming pools
- Water quality
- The presence of radon
- The presence of termites
Please be prepared and check your crawl space and attic prior to your inspection. If you know something will not pass inspection, address it prior to the inspection!
The choice is yours when choosing an inspection company. Try to schedule the inspection for a day and time when you can be present. Inspections usually take 3 to 4 hours, depending on the size of your home. The inspector will provide helpful information on the current questions, no matter how detailed. Radon, septic, well, or termite inspections should be ordered at this time also… if needed. Two suggestions: