One of the biggest financial decisions a person can ever make is buying a house. For home buyers, they want to make sure that the house of their dreams is going to be safe and comfortable now and in the future — and that their money is being well-spent. For sellers, they want to make sure that the house they are selling is up to code so they can get the best deal for the money.
Enter the home inspection.
Simply put, a home inspection is a report about the overall condition of a house — everything from structure and foundation to plumbing and more — done by an unbiased home inspector. That report can help potential home buyers decide whether or not to buy the house, and 95 percent of purchased homes go through an inspection before the deal is closed.
If you are wondering, “What is involved with a home inspection?” and “What is the worst that could happen if I don’t get one?” we have got you covered below.
How does a home inspection work?
There are two types of home inspections — a seller’s inspection and a (prospective) buyer’s inspection. The former is done after the buyer has made the seller an offer, but before the closing, and the latter is done before the home is even listed.
Home inspectors have a long list of things that they look for as they do the inspections, starting with health and safety concerns before moving to major defects. According to Claude McGavic, executive director of the National Association of Home Inspectors, there are more than 1,500 things that they look for during the inspection. However, it can be boiled down to the areas below:
● Grounds: Are there current or future water issues? Faulty grading or downspouts? Safe pathways, retaining walls, sheds, and railings?
● Structure: Here the foundation is examined, as are the sides, windows, and door frames, which is critical if the house is a bit older.
● Roof: Are the shingles, flashing, and fascia up to par? Are there loose gutters and chimney or skylight defects?
● Exterior: Anything on the outside of the house — from siding and attic cracks to dents or bowing in vinyl and blistering or flaking paint — is closely examined.
● Windows, doors, and trim: Are the frames secure? Is there rot? Secure caulking? Undamaged glass?
● Interior rooms: Inspectors look for faulty framing, stained ceilings, and adequate insulation.
● Kitchen: Do range hoods vent to outside? Sink leaks? Properly operating cupboards and drawers?
● Bathrooms: Here they look to make sure toilets properly flush, drains drain, and showers/tubs are fastened securely.
● Plumbing: Pipes, drains, water heaters, and water pressure are all examined.
● Electrical system: Are the visible wiring and electrical panels up to code? Do light switches and the HVAC systems work correctly? Does each room have enough outlets?
For an average-sized house, you can expect the inspection process to take between three and five hours, and the report to be completed within four to five business days.
Benefits of Home Inspections
There are myriad benefits to home inspections — everything from potential savings now and in the future to avoiding additional taxes and simply peace of mind. Here are the top benefits of home inspections.
1. It can save you a lot of money in the long run.
According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost of a home inspection is between $278 and $399, but that’s nothing compared to the costs a buyer might incur if they bypass the inspection and wind up with costly roof repairs or issues with the home’s electrical system.
In fact, 86 percent of buyers who had a home inspection done before closing the sale said that the inspector identified at least one problem that should be addressed — and they’re often major issues. Almost 20 percent had roof issues, and more than 18 percent had electrical problems that left undiagnosed, could lead to house fires or electrocution.
When these problems are uncovered, potential buyers are given the choice to have the homeowner pay for the repairs, or they can back out of the purchase.
2. As a buyer, you have more control over the transaction.
You want to know what you are getting into before you close on the sale, and a home inspection gives you the information you need to strengthen your negotiating position. Even in a seller’s market, where you may not have as much sway, it is still good to be aware of potential issues upfront.
In fact, around 46 percent of buyers reported that they “used home inspection reports to negotiate a lower price on their home.” If there are issues that need to be addressed, prospective buyers can ask for repairs or credits to offset the costs and labor. It opens the door for negotiations and gives buyers the opportunity to back out if they cannot reach an agreement about repair requests.
3. It will give you peace of mind.
If nothing else, getting a home inspection can give you peace of mind in knowing that you and your family are moving into a safe home. There are things like structural issues or termites that may make a home unsafe for you — things that you or even your Realtor would never be able to catch. By getting an independent report from a qualified inspector, these issues can be uncovered and dealt with before you sign on the bottom line.
Is it ever OK to skip the home inspection?
While you can bypass this step, it is recommended that you always get a home inspection — even if you are buying a new house. A new home might look flawless, but you do not know that the new HVAC system works or whether or not the basement will flood. While an older home might have some issues, the previous owner is required to disclose them, something you do not get with a new house.
New homes are not always built up to code, and municipal building inspections are not the same as home inspections. The former check compliance and codes, but they are only looking for the minimum, and things can slip through the cracks. By getting a home inspection, you can fix any problems before moving in and before they result in serious consequences or expensive damage.
Taking the Next Step
Given all the details and requirements, the process of buying a home can feel overwhelming. Having a professional inspect your home can give you the reassurance that you’re moving into a house that is safe and secure — and that it can stay that way for years to come. A home inspection is not only informative, but also empowering, and one of the most important steps you can take as you close the deal on the home of your dreams.
Are you ready to take the big step and purchase a new home? Whether you are looking for your first home or a waterfront condominium, I would love to talk with you and show you how I can help reach your real estate goals. Contact me and let’s chat!