June 10th, 2015 5:37 PM by Gregg Mower
So you are about to make an offer on a home and you are not sure if you should pay the $300-500 for a home inspections. Your Relator tells you that you should have one, but is it really necessary for you, or is it just to protect your Realtor? My answer is a little bit of both and we will explore why. First, we need to define the differences between a Home Inspection and an appraisal. An appraisal will be done mainly to establish a value of the property. An appraiser may note work items that should be done prior to the close of escrow, however, this is only for health and safety items and known code violations. A home inspector does not take value into consideration when doing the inspection. The home inspection is to identify problem areas with the construction of the home itself.
The home inspector is extremely thorough in inspecting the home and the systems within the home. A home inspector has a list of all the systems a home could have and he or she will inspect all the systems and make sure they are either working or if they need repairs or upgrades. As a home buyer, this is important to know as the home inspection can bring up faults to the house where the potential buyer may not want to buy the home without the items fixed. It is also important to know that if the sales contract is contingent upon the home inspection the buyer’s lender may request a copy of the report. Lenders can ask for certain items in the report to be repaired as a condition of getting the loan. So if you know there might be problems with the house and you don’t want the lender to have a say in the repairs you should get the home inspection on your own and not make it a condition to close. Remember in most Real Estate contracts there is what is called an "inspection period" for the buyer, usually 17 days, and during that inspection period you can, as a buyer, request any kind of inspections including a Home inspection.
So what does the inspector look for in a home? They look at the entire construction of the home. The inspector will note the age of the home and what the construction standards were when the house was built, in addition, they will note the new building codes that they believe the house should be upgraded to, if necessary. The inspector will go under the house, if there is a crawl space, and they will note the condition of the floor joists, foundation, plumbing, electrical and any deficiencies and they will recommend fixes. They will go room to room in the interior of the house checking floors, walls, ceilings, electrical, doors, floor coverings etc. and recommend fixes. In the bathrooms, they will inspect the plumbing, the fixtures, water flow, and floors, ceiling, and walls. In the Kitchen they will make sure the appliances are working, the garbage disposal (if installed) works, lighting, flooring, cabinets, and doors, they will note cracks in the counters if there are any. Then they will go into the attic space and check the roof from underneath, the electrical, plumbing, and any systems that might be in there such as the Heating and Air conditioning system. The inspector will walk around the outside of the house and note any leaking faucets, or pipes. They will inspect the paint and the siding of the house as to the useful life left. They will go on the roof and check the roof and make any recommendations as to the useful life of the roof and any other notations that they might find.
Once the inspector has completed the physical inspection they will take their notes and compile a written report which they will deliver to the person who ordered the report, usually the buyer. Within the report, the inspector will give his or her opinions on the status of the systems in the home. Home Inspectors don’t have to be contractors so they don’t offer a price to fix any of the problems they find. The reports themselves can be 50- 100 pages so the detail is there. They note everything they see from normal wear and tear to major issues they find. Most of the time, they will point out the major problems of the house in the beginning of the report and point you to the pages to see the detailed write-up of the problems and suggested fixes.
When you are reviewing a Home Inspection my advice would be to look at the whole report and look for major work that might end up costing a lot money to repair first. Also, you might want another professional opinion on a system that the inspector notes as in need of repair. For example, the inspector may note that the air conditioning is not blowing cold air. The inspector is not an air conditioning system repair person so they would only make a notation that the system is not working properly. So in cases like this you should seek a professional heating and air person to inspect the unit, as the problem might just be a $5.00 fuse. They may also make a notation that there is a crack in the concrete in the garage. The notation might read that there is a possible foundation issue when in reality there are cracks in most all concrete garage floors. So be careful of what is noted in the report and use common sense. Remember, the inspector is also covering their own liability issues so they will note everything and every possible problem that it might be. Don’t let these notations scare you away from purchasing a house as the inspector will note everything they see. They will note cracks in tiles, which doesn’t mean the entire counter top needs to be replaced. So when you are reviewing a Home inspection know that they are noting everything and every possible conclusion to cover their own liability.
Sometimes, getting a Home Inspection is not necessary, like I said in the beginning. If you are contractor and understand construction your Realtor will still suggest a home inspection as it is their duty to do so, but if you inspect the home yourself there would be no need to pay the additional money. If you have built a home in the past and understand construction you may be just as qualified to inspect the home yourself. My advice still would be to download the MAE Capital Home Inspection quick checklist and go through the house as thoroughly as a home inspector would. Note any problems you find that you would want the seller to fix prior to you purchasing the home so you were not burdened with the expense. The sale might be an “as is sale” and you would have to make the determination if you still wanted to buy the home for the price you negotiated previously. You might be able to make the fixes yourself after you own the house and are willing to take the home in the “as is condition.
Inspecting a home should be done no matter if you do it or if you contract with a licensed Home Inspector to. You never know what might be hiding behind that wall or fireplace. I would also highly recommend that you get a termite inspection as well as a home inspection as termites, beetles, and dry rot can be major future expenses as well. A termite company will guarantee their report for a period of time, so if you do move in and find there is termite damage that the inspector failed to find then the company will repair your home at their costs. You should be prudent with your inspections of any home you are purchasing even if your intent is to fix and flip the property as you never can know fully what is going on until you move in, which could be too late. Something we do for our buyers, that is not a requirement, we buy them a Home Warranty with every sale we do. The Home Warranty warrants the major systems in the house like the heating and air, plumbing, electrical, and some will have extended options for septic systems and wells. At MAE Capital Real Estate and Loan we do this for our customers as we want to ensure a good buying experience and repeat customers. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to leave them here on our blog and feel free to wander around our site there is ample information for any home buyer. We would love to earn your business.