"My husband and I once lost a bidding war on a lake house because we wanted a home inspection prior to purchase. The seller told us they would be going with a competing bid because the other buyer (who actually put in a lower offer) would not be requiring this additional level of assurance. Instead of feeling frustrated as some stranger took claim of ‘my new house,’ I felt relief. I no longer wanted the cottage or the problems lurking in its walls."
That lakeside retreat might not have been such a treat after all. This was a nearly 100-year-old home, and the homeowner chose to accept less money over allowing a peek under the hood. It was made clear that the seller could have been intentionally hiding something, or in the very least, was not confident the home would pass inspection.
Buying a home is obviously a huge decision, and one that is not easily undone. Once those papers are signed, there is no guaranteed return policy. You can’t just take it back like that jacket you bought without checking to see if the zipper worked.
And while most of us feel equipped to determine which house we want to turn into our home, few of us have the expertise to spot the hidden issues that could be waiting to ruin our warm welcome (like a malfunctioning furnace). Few of us have the skill to know whether that dream home will become a financial nightmare down the road due to faulty pipes or a crumbling foundation.
The time and money spent on a home inspection is really very minimal when you look at the big picture. According to Home Advisor, the national average for a home inspection is $323. One can also expect to spend anywhere from 2-4 hours with the home inspector, depending upon the size and age of the house. When you are about to spend thousands of dollars on a home you will live in for years to come, this initial investment is actually quite small. And don’t forget - you could actually negotiate down the cost of the house due to issues found during inspection.
Home inspections should be performed by certified professionals whenever possible. There are various associations to check for such as the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors. While membership is not required to these organizations, it does lend additional credibility.
Also, be wary of folks charging bottom dollar for an inspection. They might lack the appropriate licensing or training for your given state or could rush through the job in order to tackle more appointments.
A thorough home inspector will examine the exterior of the house, roof, and all attached porches and decks. Inside you can expect a check into plumbing and electrical items, appliances, the attic if applicable, a search for signs of water damage, and an extensive look into the mechanical room or crawl space. The American Society of Home Inspectors publishes a Standards of Practice document that provides a general overview of items to be covered in a routine home inspection.
It is advisable to stay on-site and walk through the inspection alongside the expert. He/she will provide you with a written report typically within one week of completing the task to recap the findings; however, it often helps to be present in order to ask questions and obtain clarification on potential problems. Don’t be shy! You are paying for their expertise; make sure to take advantage of it.
Even when you truly trust the current owner, the few hundred dollars spent on a home inspection is well worth it. Many people do not even know about the underlying issues within their house when they put it on the market, especially if these issues have not started causing noticeable problems yet.
Consider the story of one of our customers:
"We bought our home from family and didn’t think we needed a home inspection because we trusted that they would just tell us if there was something wrong with the house. We were wrong. We didn’t take into account that they might not be aware of the various problems. So, we were left with a bee hive in the siding, clogged pipes in the basement and a leaky roof that we had to turn around and replace within 6 months of owning the home. Just make sure you get a home inspection; it will not hurt your family’s feelings, and I truly believe that knowledge is empowering."
The stories of homebuyers regretting their decision to not have a home inspection outweigh those who have an inspection. Don’t let this be your story. Get a good home inspection and feel good about your purchase!
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