Home Inspections

November 30, 2012

Home Inspections

About Home Inspections

Whether you are a buyer or a seller of a home, most likely you will need to work with a home inspector during the process. If you are a buyer you will want or may be required by your lender to hire a home inspector before the transaction can move forward and it one of the first steps in the process once you have an executed Purchase Agreement. The home inspector will be able to reveal any problems with the home and reveal minor and major issues that may either require repairs or could present future problems at a later time. Any issues that are presented in the inspection report can be negotiated with the seller of the property where the seller has the right to agree or disagree to what they will repair, replace or negotiate a price reduction.  Once the terms are agreed upon and the proper paperwork is signed off by the buyer and seller the escrow process continues. If repairs are agreed on you will have an opportunity prior to closing to inspect the repairs and accept the condition.

If you are seller, the buyer will most likely be paying for the home inspection to protect the large investment you are making when buying your new home.

Often sellers of real estate will be proactive and have their home professionally inspected at their cost to make the seller aware of the condition of the home and it’s equipment prior to offering the house for sale.  The seller can then consider making repairs prior to listing the home to assist in making the home more desirable and limit any snags with buyers that occur during the escrow process. Sometimes the repairs may be minimal and if you are handy you might be able to complete them yourself.

If you are buying a newly constructed home from a homebuilder it may also be a good idea to hire a home inspector. Just because the home is new doesn’t necessarily mean everything is perfect. You can arrange for you home inspection to take place prior to your final walk through of your new home with the homebuilder to assist with creating a punch list.  After many years in the home building industry I know from experience that not everything is completed when the builder says it is and not everything is working properly.

Most buyers and sellers of real estate that are not in the real estate industry have limited knowledge of the home inspection process and may rely on their real estate agent to provide them with references of whom to hire.

HUD is a good source for more information on the home inspection process and their website offers some valuable information on how to find a home inspector and what to expect from them. The following 10 points are from HUD:

1. What does your inspection cover?

The inspector should ensure that their inspection and inspection report will meet all applicable requirements in your state if applicable and will comply with a well-recognized standard of practice and code of ethics. You should be able to request and see a copy of these items ahead of time and ask any questions you may have. If there are any areas you want to make sure are inspected, be sure to identify them upfront.

2. How long have you been practicing in the home inspection profession and how many inspections have you completed?

The inspector should be able to provide his or her history in the profession and perhaps even a few names as referrals. Newer inspectors can be very qualified, and many work with a partner or have access to more experienced inspectors to assist them in the inspection.

3. Are you specifically experienced in residential inspection?

Related experience in construction or engineering is helpful, but is no substitute for training and experience in the unique discipline of home inspection. If the inspection is for a commercial property, then this should be asked about as well.

4. Do you offer to do repairs or improvements based on the inspection?

Some inspector associations and state regulations allow the inspector to perform repair work on problems uncovered in the inspection. Other associations and regulations strictly forbid this as a conflict of interest.

5. How long will the inspection take?

The average on-site inspection time for a single inspector is two to three hours for a typical single-family house; anything significantly less may not be enough time to perform a thorough inspection. Additional inspectors may be brought in for very large properties and buildings.

6. How much will it cost?

Costs vary dramatically, depending on the region, size and age of the house, scope of services and other factors. A typical range might be $300-$500, but consider the value of the home inspection in terms of the investment being made. Cost does not necessarily reflect quality. HUD Does not regulate home inspection fees.

7. What type of inspection report do you provide and how long will it take to receive the report?

Ask to see samples and determine whether or not you can understand the inspector’s reporting style and if the time parameters fulfill your needs. Most inspectors provide their full report within 24 hours of the inspection.

8. Will I be able to attend the inspection?

This is a valuable educational opportunity, and an inspector’s refusal to allow this should raise a red flag. Never pass up this opportunity to see your prospective home through the eyes of an expert.

9. Do you maintain membership in a professional home inspector association?

There are many state and national associations for home inspectors. Request to see their membership ID, and perform whatever due diligence you deem appropriate.

10. Do you participate in continuing education programs to keep your expertise up to date?

One can never know it all, and the inspector’s commitment to continuing education is a good measure of his or her professionalism and service to the consumer. This is especially important in cases where the home is much older or includes unique elements requiring additional or updated training.

For more information from HUD you can access the website using the following link::  //portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/housing/sfh/insp/inspfaq

 

What a Home Inspection Should Cover

The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) is another good source to discover the involvement of home inspectors when buying or selling a home. Below is a good example of the detailed inspectons they will make:
Home inspections will vary depending on the type of property you are purchasing. A large historic home, for example, will require a more specialized inspection than a small condominium. However, the following are the basic elements that a home inspector will check. You can also use this list to help you evaluate properties you might purchase.

For more information, try the virtual home inspection at www.ASHI.org, the Web site of the American Society of Home Inspectors.

Structure: A home’s skeleton impacts how the property stands up to weather, gravity, and the earth. Structural components, including the foundation and the framing, should be inspected.

Exterior: The inspector should look at sidewalks, driveways, steps, windows, and doors. A home’s siding, trim, and surface drainage also are part of an exterior inspection.

  • Doors and windows
  • Siding (brick, stone, stucco, vinyl, wood, etc.)
  • Driveways/sidewalks
  • Attached porches, decks, and balconies

Roofing: A well-maintained roof protects you from rain, snow, and other forces of nature. Take note of the roof’s age, conditions of flashing, roof draining systems (pooling water), buckled shingles, loose gutters and downspouts, skylight, and chimneys.

Plumbing: Thoroughly examine the water supply and drainage systems, water heating equipment, and fuel storage systems. Drainage pumps and sump pumps also fall under this category. Poor water pressure, banging pipes, rust spots, or corrosion can indicate problems.

Electrical: Safe electrical wiring is essential. Look for the condition of service entrance wires, service panels, breakers and fuses, and disconnects. Also take note of the number of outlets in each room.

Heating: The home’s heating system, vent system, flues, and chimneys should be inspected. Look for age of water heater, whether the size is adequate for the house, speed of recovery, and energy rating.

Air Conditioning: Your inspector should describe your home cooling system, its energy source, and inspect the central and through-wall cooling equipment. Consider the age and energy rating of the system.

Interiors: An inspection of the inside of the home can reveal plumbing leaks, insect damage, rot, construction defects, and other issues. An inspector should take a close look at:

  • Walls, ceilings and floors
  • Steps, stairways, and railings
  • Countertops and cabinets
  • Garage doors and garage door systems

Ventilation/insulation: To prevent energy loss, check for adequate insulation and ventilation in the attic and in unfinished areas such as crawlspaces. Also look for proper, secured insulation in walls. Insulation should be appropriate for the climate. Excess moisture in the home can lead to mold and water damage.

Fireplaces: They’re charming, but they could be dangerous if not properly installed. Inspectors should examine the system, including the vent and flue, and describe solid fuel burning appliances.

Source: American Society of Home Inspectors (www.AHSI.org)

 

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