So, you’ve decided to buy a home, you even put in an offer. You’re excited because the home you’ve chosen has all of the amenities you are looking for and the location is perfect. Well, before you sign on the dotted line, be sure that you know what you’re getting yourself into. Many banks and other lending institutions require an inspection as part of the home buying process, but it is important that you protect yourself from unexpected repair costs by investing in a home inspection before you buy a house, even if you are purchasing the home with cash.
Choosing the Right Home Inspector
Finding a good home inspector is like finding a good doctor. It can be difficult to do, and unfortunately, you only have a small window of time to find one when you are buying a new home.
Luckily, most qualified realtors have a rolodex of contacts that they know and trust, and should be able to recommend someone for you to use. If you are selling your home without a realtor, or would like to choose an inspector on your own, be sure to retain a home inspection company with top credentials.
A lot of information will be given to you at the time of inspection, much of it difficult to comprehend. With that in mind, it is important that you make sure your inspector will provide you with a written report, explaining each of the items in detail. If they tell you it is a basic checklist, you may want to choose a different inspector.
Be there! It is important that you attend the home inspection. You will be able to see how thorough they are, ask any questions you may have and understand what they are looking for and what they may find.
Equipment – If your home inspector shows up with simply a notebook and pencil in hand, you may want to send him on his way. A good inspector will come armed with a variety of tools and equipment; such as, electrical testers, gas and carbon monoxide detectors, a moisture meter, a ladder, flashlight, level, etc.
What will they look for? Be sure that all of the following points are fully covered. There’s nothing more important than knowing that the home you are purchasing is structurally sound including the framing and foundation. They should inspect the condition of the roof, the exterior facades, doors, windows, the land grading around the home, decks, patios, porches, driveways and sidewalks.
In addition to ensuring that the home is structurally sound, a good inspector will also inspect the plumbing, heating, air-conditioning, and electrical systems as well.
The interior should also be inspected for possible issues, such as past water damage or materials that may be contain asbestos.
Finally, a quality home inspection should include an inspection for wood destroying insects that will be accepted by your mortgage lender. Often, many home inspectors in the Metro Orlando area (Central Florida) will look for apparent termite damage; however, you may need to hire another company to do a full termite evaluation (something to consider when choosing your home inspector).
All electrical and mechanical components of the home should be inspected as well. Things to look for include; aluminum electrical distribution wires, electrical systems that are not adequate for modern usage, lead and galvanized steel water supply pipes, aged and inefficient heating and air-conditioning units, etc. If the home has a well and/or septic system, these, too, should be evaluated.
If possible, you may want to consider optional testing of underground storage tanks, testing paint and/or drinking water for lead or bacteria, testing the air for radon gas and testing the foam insulation for urea formaldehyde.
The Results – At the end of the inspection, have the inspector give you a thorough summary of the findings. Most inspectors will have the final report available the following business day.
Next Steps – Upon completion, you will know the condition of the home you are purchasing (good and bad), what repairs are needed (if any) and if they require immediate attention. Don’t worry if they’ve found something – a good home inspector is sure find some defects (no home is perfect), but you need to weigh the positives against the negatives and determine your next steps. If there are significant issues, you may want to negotiate a better sale price based upon the defects uncovered by the inspector, or ask that the seller pay the repair fees.