A home inspection is a total, all-around overview of the condition of the home, inside and out.
A home inspection is the best way to ascertain what condition a home is in, allowing you to determine whether a home fits your needs. Covering everything structural, functional and safety-related about the home. Structural components may include roofing materials and foundation integrity. Functional components may include heating, plumbing and electricity. Safety-related components will include the presence of radon, mold or pests.
Home inspections are conducted by certified home inspectors licensed and trained in all of these areas. The inspector can take anywhere between two to five hours, depending on the age and size of the home. A home inspector does not correct or repair issues. The inspector will simply make you aware of them. A home inspector may, however, recommend qualified professionals to conduct those repairs for you. A home inspector is also prohibited from recommending whether to buy a particular home and may only point out issues with the home.
If you buy a home through a bank or mortgage company, then that lender will require you to get a home inspection, at your expense, as a contingency of the loan. If the lender is not satisfied with the results of the inspection, the lender can either make loan approval contingent on certain problems being addressed or reject the loan altogether for that particular property and send the buyer back on the search for a more acceptable home.
A home may look like a dream to your eyes, but to an inspector’s eyes, it may look like a money pit. A certified home inspector knows problems to look for that you do not. A home inspector knows, for example, how to examine the grade of the property where your home sits to see if water drainage could be a problem during heavy periods of rain or snowmelt. She or he can climb up on your roof and check its shingles, gutters and chimney.
Home inspectors also know how to examine electricity and wiring, plumbing, carpentry, foundations and insulation. They can identify mold or pest damage or the propensity for it to develop. This allows you to decide whether the house you are interested in will be a good investment or whether you want the seller to make any repairs before you move in.
Unlike a pair of jeans that do not fit, you cannot return or exchange a home. Once you buy it, you alone are responsible for all its upkeep, including those required because of problems the seller did not address. A home inspection can identify those problem elements for you so you know exactly the condition of the home you might be purchasing. If you find a problem after you buy a home, you either have to fix it or leave it alone and risk it getting worse. If your home inspector finds a problem before you buy the home, you can back out of the deal and look for a different home without such problems.
Some problems with a home could cause you to pay more in homeowners insurance. If the insulation is not up to an acceptable standard, the wiring is shoddy or the roof is too old, your homeowners insurance may be higher. For that matter, depending on the severity of certain problems, you might not even be able to get approved for homeowners insurance until you take care of them.
Money is not the only concern when it comes to making sure your home is right for you. The health and safety of your household are also important, and arguably more so. The presence of radon in the home could be a danger to health, especially to children and pets. Young children are also particularly vulnerable to lead paint. A home inspector can identify the presence of these elements and give you fair warning so you can decide how you want to handle it.
The water you drink in your home can also significantly impact your health. A home inspector can test your water for impurities like E. coli bacteria or chemical hardness. When a home inspector checks the grounds outside the home for grading and the basement for cracks and seams, it is not just to protect you from the hassle and inconvenience of flooding. It is also to protect you against the growth and spreading of mold and mildew, which can cause all sorts of health problems, short and long term.
Being alerted to the presence of termites and other wood-boring insects in your home does not just protect the value of your home. It also protects your health and safety in a couple of ways. The frame of a home becomes less stable and secure the more it is compromised by insects. Floor joists and ceiling beams can weaken and even fall unexpectedly. The other danger insects of any form pose is the threat of disease, as bugs are renowned pathogen carriers.
Finally, you can even ask your home inspector to examine your septic and oil tanks. A problem with either system could pose risks to health and safety. Knowing your septic will not back up and your oil tank will not leak can go a long way toward making feel more secure in purchasing and moving into a new home.
If a home inspection reveals any significant problems with a home, you have other options besides consenting to fix it yourself or walking away from the table and browsing other listings. You can ask the seller to fix those items before closing as a contingency of the sale. You can also ask for a credit from the seller so that you can fix the problems without having to pay for them yourself. The seller can refuse, but then you have the right to back out of the sale with no penalty. If the seller wants to sell you the house badly enough, he or she very well may agree to fix those items for you.