The Importance of a Home Inspection
Many buyers will choose to opt out of a home inspection to save some money or if it means getting an accepted offer on the home they are trying to purchase. However, waiving your right to a home inspection can be a costly mistake in the long run. Getting a home inspection can tell you the overall health of the home you are about to purchase, give you an idea of potential repairs, and allow for a home inspection contingency to be added to your contract.
What a Home Inspection Examines
A good inspector should examine certain components of the home you want to purchase and then produce a report covering his or her findings. Be sure to get a copy of the report, but also make sure you attend the inspection, too. You will be able to ask questions, get a firsthand explanation of the inspector’s findings, and see any problems the inspector finds in person. Inspections typically last 2-3 hours, so a little time now could help you get the full picture of your potential new home.
The inspector’s report should include: whether each problem is a safety issue, major defect, or minor defect which items need replacement and which should be repaired or serviced items that are suitable for now but that should be monitored closely.
Some common problems found during home inspections include:
- Faulty wiring
- Roof problems
- Heating/cooling system defects
- Plumbing issues
- Poor home maintenance
- Structural damage
- Poor drainage around the structure, etc.
Home Inspection Limitations
A home inspection checks for visual cues to problems, so it cannot find all of a home’s defects. For example, if the home’s doors do not close properly or the floors are slanted, the foundation might have a crack. However, if the crack cannot be seen without pulling up all the flooring in the house, a home inspector cannot tell you it is definitely there.
In addition, most home inspectors are generalists. For example, they can tell you that the soil is too close to wood outside the home, but will recommend that you hire a pest inspector to check if the home has termites and the extent of the damages. Home inspectors also do not check for issues like site contamination, mold, and other specialized issues. Hiring additional inspectors will cost extra money, but if it is a serious enough issue, it is better to know about it now than later down the road.
Home Inspection Contingency
Home inspections can be used as a contingency in your purchase offer. If the home inspector finds significant damages and defects, the contingency allows you to back out of your offer, free of penalty, within a certain timeframe. These issues must be too expensive or too significant to fix in order for you to rescind your contract.
What Happens After an Inspection
What can you do once you have your inspection?
If your purchase contract has a home inspection contingency, you may choose to walk away from the purchase if the problems are too significant or expensive to fix.
You can ask the seller to fix any small or large problems. If they will not fix them, you can ask them to reduce the purchase price or give you a cash credit at closing so that you can fix the problems yourself. This is where a home inspection can pay for itself.
If these are not viable options (e.g. a bank-owned property that is being sold as-is), you can get estimates to fix the problems yourself, come up with a plan for repairs, and prioritize which repairs need to be done in order of importance.
Overall, a home inspection can give you a clearer picture of the health of the home you are about to purchase, signify any repairs that may be needed before or after you move in, and allow you to back out of a contract if repairs would be too costly. If there are no major problems, you will at least have the peace of mind in knowing that your new home is safe and move-in ready. You are making a large investment when you purchase a home; make sure you are getting the most value out of it.