Atop the long list of items to do when buying or selling a house is the home inspection. 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 taken by surprise.
What is a Home Inspection?
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. So, for the sake of simplicity, a home inspection will inform you of the condition of a home; while the appraisal will inform you of the current market value of a home. A home inspection 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. In layman’s terms, it shows you what’s wrong with the property you want to buy or sell and if it is serious enough to prevent a sale.
The three main points of the inspection are to evaluate the physical condition of the home, including structure, construction and mechanical systems; identify items that need to be repaired or replaced; and estimate the remaining useful life of the major systems, equipment, structure, and finishes. Bottom line: a home inspection is to inform the buyer of any readily visible major defects in the mechanical and structural components, and to disclose any significant health or safety issues.
What Does a Home Inspection Cover?
A home inspection includes a visual examination of the house from top to bottom. There are hundred of items a home inspection covers, including general structure, flashings, central cooling and heating, chimneys, plumbing and electrical systems, drainage, bathrooms and laundry facilities, foundation, common safety devices, fireplaces, kitchen and kitchen appliances, general interior, attic, insulation. ventilation, roof, and exterior, etc. An inspector cannot report on defects that are not visible. For instance, defects hidden behind finished walls, beneath carpeting, behind storage items and in inaccessible areas, and even those that have been intentionally concealed.
How Do I Find an Inspector?
If you don't have a specific home inspector in mind, we are more than happy to assist and provide you with one of our recommended inspectors. We only use home inspectors that have the required credentials and insurance. It’s a good idea to be present during the inspection for a couple of reasons: First, you can ask the inspector questions during the inspection. Also, the inspector will have the opportunity to point out areas of potential trouble, which will mean more to you if you see it with your own eyes than read it in the inspector’s report later. Many inspectors also will offer maintenance tips as the inspection progresses.
How Much Does it Cost and How Long Will it Take?
Remember that a thorough, accurate home inspection takes time. You can expect your home inspection to take anywhere between two and three hours depending on the size of the home and the areas to be inspected. Of course, older homes will take longer than newer ones. Expect your inspection to cost anywhere from $200-$500 depending on size. The cost is worth it and may be one of the most important investments you make when buying a home.
In our experience, those home buyers who decided not to get a home inspection, may eventually regret their decision as there may be something somewhere that comes out of hiding! Whilst it might not be something the seller was aware of at the time of the sale, it will now become the new homeowners problem. Your problem! Knowing ahead of time what you’re getting yourself involved with can only bring you peace of mind that this beautiful house you fell in love with, is actually the perfect place to call home.