Why a Home Inspector Can be a Homeowner’s Best Friend
By Diane Tait
If you’ve ever bought or sold a home, you’re familiar with a home inspector. He or she is the person who climbed onto your roof, into your attic, through your home’s crawlspaces and even perhaps under your home before the sale was complete and the mortgage lender was satisfied with the property. In short, a home inspector is there to check out your home from top to bottom. While some homeowners fear the inspector will shoot down a sale or cost them money to repair or replace items that would otherwise have been the responsibility of the new owners, what many fail to realize is that a home inspector can sometimes save them time & money.
Why is a pre-inspection a good idea?
When it comes down to selling your home, the last thing you want are surprises likely to block a closing or cause you to have to drop the price on your home to consummate the sale. But that’s precisely what happens to many home sellers who don’t order a pre-inspection. Since a licensed home inspector checks more than 1,000 items in a home before publishing a report, it isn’t unusual for a homeowner to wind up getting blindsided at the last minute by items that they assumed would pass muster. Had they taken the time to have a pre-inspection before they put their home on the market, they would have been aware of any deficiencies that could cause them problems later. It also makes it much less likely that a potential buyer will request repairs or try to renegotiate the asking price when the home comes on the market.
Is a pre-inspection worth the money?
According to the National Association of Home Inspectors, only 10% of sellers opt for a pre-inspection, even though they cost as little as $200. While many homeowners see the cost of a pre-inspection as money out of pocket that they could use to repair their property, what most fail to realize is that a professional inspector is better able to point out what needs to be fixed and what doesn’t than a layman. As a result, some homeowners put money into repairing or replacing items which a home inspector would give a passing grade. More importantly, a home inspector can provide a wealth of information regarding a home that can relieve the suspense that will inevitably come when a potential buyer has the property inspected.
What items are included in a home inspection?
Regardless of whether you hire an inspector or not, sooner or later a professional is going to take a good hard look at your property. Here are the top-10 areas the inspector is going to focus on:
1. The Grounds – Before a home inspector sets foot inside your domicile, he or she will walk around your property to see if there is any standing water that can indicate drainage or septic issues. They’ll also inspect your trees to see if they touch the roof. If your driveway and/or sidewalk is in disrepair, expect this to be addressed on the report.
2. The Exterior – The inspector will check everything from a home’s foundation to the condition of siding or stucco to caulking and weatherstripping, not to mention doors and windows. He or she will also take a good hard look at the foundation to make sure that your home isn’t leaning, sagging or subsiding. Then it’s up on the roof to check shingles, flashing and chimney.
3. Beds, Bath & Living Space – A home inspector will not only do a walk-through of a property to make sure there aren’t any signs of undue wear or tear, they’re likely to test every knob and faucet, open every cupboard, drawer and fixture to make sure they all work correctly
4. What’s Cooking? – Expect your kitchen to get a great deal of scrutiny. That’s because it’s one of the most complicated parts of your home. Everything from the stove and oven to the exhaust fan and electrical outlets will be studied in great detail to make sure they’re in good working order.
5. The garage is another place that will draw the interest of a home inspector, especially if the area houses such things as a washer, dryer and perhaps a built-in work bench. If you have a power door opener, expect that to be opened, closed and scrutinized, as will your home’s water heater, if that’s where it’s housed.
6. The shocking truth about your home’s electrical system is that it may not be up to code, particularly if you live in a home that was constructed more than 20-years ago. Even if it is up to code, don’t for a moment think that any inspector is going to overlook any DIY electrical connections or non-permitted upgrades that you’ve made to your home’s power grid.
7. A Cold Day in Hell – Another thing home inspectors home in on is a home’s HVAC system and fireplace. If your central air unit looks like something Rube Goldberg would have been proud of, or if your fireplace is full of cracks, you can expect to read about it in the inspector’s final report.
8. Bats in the Belfry – Don’t for a moment think that an inspector is going to neglect to crawl in and around your attic and crawlspaces. Everything from the condition of any insulation to obvious signs of water intrusion and vermin infestation will be spotted and noted.
9. Look Up – While most homeowners expect an inspector to look down at carpeting, wood and tile flooring, many don’t realize that they spend just as much time looking up to spot water stains, loose material and cracks, some of which are all but undetectable to the layman.
10. Be Proactive – Last but not least, if you really want to get the most out of a pre-inspection, don’t make the inspector discover each and every defect. Come clean before the inspection starts by pointing out defects of which you are aware. The inspector will be glad to tell you what to do to rectify the situation.
Diane Tait owns and operates A&B Insurance. To find out more about how you can save money on insurance, go to her site or fill out the form at right.