Why You Should Get A Home Inspection
You’ve found a home you would like buy, and are going through the steps to own that house. One thing your want to consider is getting a home inspection so that you know what you are getting into. It’s always better to know whether you are going to be investing more money than your anticipated in order to have a safe, comfortable home.. What do home inspectors, well, inspect? Here's a list of some of those things.
What Inspectors Check
The lot: Your inspector makes sure the drainage goes away from the house, because it if doesn’t, it could cause water issues in the basement or crawl space. If these areas are damp, your home might eventually develop mold. And you know that's no good. Also, the inspector checks for any soggy areas in the yard. This could indicate a leak in a sewage line (or septic tank, if that's what the home has), or a drainage problem might be the issue.
The outside: Gutters and downspouts should always be monitored.. Are they attached properly? Do they need cleaned so badly that there are little trees growing in them? (This happens. Really.)
You’ll want to know if there are any loose boards or wires. You don’t want drafts or fire hazards, of course. If the home is painted, when was that done and is the paint peeling? It might need some repairs to the outside that you would not catch, but the inspector knows exactly what to look for.
Also, you NEED to know if there is any asbestos used in the structure because of the dangers involved. Your inspector will also check for asbestos inside the home.
The foundation: The inspector will check the ceilings and the base of the walls, plus the outside perimeter of the home. The report will include whether there are cracks in the foundation, if it appears that the foundation has shifted, or if there are any tree roots that are causing, or could cause, damage to the foundation. This could lead to serious problems with foundation safety.
The basement: Your inspector will check to see if the basement is damp, which could mean mold for you. No fun there. Also, he or she will look to see that there's adequate insulation in the basement, which will help you to save money on heating.
The plumbing: What's going on with the sewer line? Has it been scoped and checked for any cracks? Are there strange noises or any obvious issues? Any nasty smells that could indicate leaks? That's what the inspector's looking for.
The electrical system: Working switches, grounded outlets and an updated breaker panel are a priority. You want all of these to be in good working condition. The breaker panel should be expandable so you can add appliances or remodel. Remember, if any of these don't meet your inspector's standards, you'll need to hire an electrical contractor to make changes. Inspectors don't fix things, they just check them out. The inspector will also check for any obvious problems that can be seen in the electrical system.
The heating and cooling system: How old is the furnace, a/c unit, or heat pump? Have they been converted from their original make? For example, has the furnace been retrofitted from electric to gas? Have all of the old, unused systems and tanks been removed so they don’t create safety issues? Do the components of the system work together? You'll know after your inspector checks them out.
Any interior leaks: Your inspector will include inspections around windows and doors, and where plumbing could leak and cause problems,l keeping you warm and safe.
Any included appliances: Are any appliances included with your new home? If so, the inspector will determine their age and make sure they're in good working order.
Smells: What kind of smells are in the house? Is there a musty smell, which might indicate a wet foundation? If there are offensive odors, can you determine where they're coming from, and if it can be fixed? If it smells like cat pee, it probably is, and you'll want to fix that issue as quickly as possible. If it smells like Grandma's fresh baked apple pie, maybe finding the cause of the smell is not an urgent issue. That's your call, of course. Your grandma might not have made the best apple pie.
The attic: Here is where the inspector checks the inner roof. In the attic, the inspector looks for any leaks that he or she might not have been able to detect from outside? Does the roof look well built from in here?
What is the insulation like? Just like in the basement, your attic needs to be properly insulated so that heating and cooling costs are low. Does the insulation contain asbestos? (That stuff can be everywhere, it seems, and if it's disturbed, it will cause health problems.) If asbestos is found anywhere in the home that you purchase, you'll probably want to call in an expert to see if it can be removed. Your inspector might be able to refer a couple of different contractors familiar with asbestos removal.
The roof: You don't want to purchase the home and then have to replace the roof within a short time. Does the roof leak? Are there weak spots? Is the flashing around the chimney safe and properly installed? Basically, the inspector wants to be sure it's in good condition.
What Sellers Disclose
The Seller Disclosure: The sellers are required to disclose any issues that they're aware the home has had, both before and while they lived there. They probably won't know everything. If they’ve only lived there 5 or 6 years, they may have no idea when the roof was last replaced or if the wiring has ever been updated. But you'll have a list of what they do know, and can work from there. The sellers will complete and sign the disclosure, which will be sent to you for review and your signature.
Inspectors Are Human
Be aware that your inspector only inspects what he or she can see. They don't tear out walls and check behind them, or remove old plumbing, or make any repairs. Also, they’re not perfect and might miss something. If you move in and there’s a leaky faucet, don't blame the inspector. It might not have been leaking when it was inspected. Now that you own the home, you can fix it your way, or even replace the fixtures with something more your style. Go over the inspector contract in detail, the same as you did when you signed the contract with your realtor.
Now, you have a better understanding of why it's such a good idea to have a home inspection done before making a final offer on that house you love. The inspection discloses structural issues you’ve been anxious about. You’ll know what needs a little TLC. And you’ll know all the wonderful features of the home you’re excited to buy. Your Realtor will be able to suggest excellent home inspectors for you. It might cost more, at the beginning of the process, than you had planned by having a home inspection before making your purchase, but in the long run, you could save money by negotiating with the seller for part of the cost, or part of the work that might need to be done. You will be at ease moving into your new home.