Home buyers frequently ask whether they really need to have the house they’ve chosen to buy inspected by an engineer or home inspector. In most instances, the answer is “yes”. For the most part, a buyer agrees to accept the home in “as is” condition. Therefore, a buyer would be well advised to know what that condition is.
A home inspection will reveal what you are actually getting for your money. A thorough inspection includes an analysis of the structural components of the house, as well as the various systems which keep it running (e.g., the plumbing, heating, electric and air conditioning). In some areas it will include well and septic system testing, inspection for wood destroying insect infestation and damage, and even air testing for harmful materials such as radon. Local conditions and custom and practices vary. In any event, without technical knowledge and experience, most home buyers would be unable to evaluate these things for themselves.
The cost of a home inspection depends on location, the size of the house, and the various items included in the inspection. It is always recommended that you accompany the inspector when he makes the inspection. It’s a valuable lesson in how things work, and you’ll be able to see first hand the items he will be referring to in the written report. In selecting an inspector, you may want to ask to see a sample report. Some reports are given in a narrative style, which are easier to read than just a checklist style report, and are generally more comprehensive.
The home inspection is generally done after a price has been agreed upon between the buyer and seller, but before a formal contract is signed. Sometimes, a report reveals conditions that a buyer was unaware of, and the buyer either rescinds his offer to buy, or renegotiates it in light of the results of the report. Seller’s attorneys are reluctant to send out a contract to the buyer’s attorney, until the buyer is satisfied with the inspection. It should be pointed out, however, that the inspection is performed at the request of the buyer and to enable the buyer to make an informed decision about buying. It is not meant to be presented to the seller as a list of what he needs to do to correct the home. You do not need to have the report forwarded to your attorney, unless you want to discuss particular aspects of it.
Another question often asked is whether it is beneficial or desirable for the home inspector to inspect for termites and other wood destroying insects as well. While some home inspectors are licensed to inspect for termites, and can provide the appropriate evaluation form required by lenders, they cannot provide an estimate if treatment is needed. When a licensed exterminator performs the inspection and no infestation is found, the buyer is provided with a guarantee. If infestation is found, an estimate is prepared that can be presented to the seller. Unlike other conditions uncovered by a home inspector, a termite condition is almost always resolved by the seller prior to closing, because many lenders require proof that the house is free of infestation. The termite inspection is generally arranged by the buyer’s attorney, and performed after the contract is signed. Contracts are usually contingent upon this issue being satisfactorily resolved by the parties.
If you have any questions, or would like me to suggest inspectors I’ve been impressed with in the past, please feel free to call.