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What is a home inspection and Why Should You Always Have One When Buying a Home?

Wooden house outline with checkmark boxes - Coldwell Banker ParadiseBuying a home for the first time or the 10th time has one common factor: It may be one of the most important transactions that you make in your lifetime. So what is a home inspection? It is a thorough evaluation of the home by a certified home inspector. This encompasses a non-invasive evaluation of the major components, but not limited to the major components of a home, such as the structure, roof, plumbing, electrical, appliances, heating and air conditioning systems, the exterior, and the basement. It may also include out buildings, the garage, and inspections for termite/wood destroying insects and radon.

certified home inspector would be hired to inspect the home and components to find if there are any material defects, items that need repair, services needed (heater evaluation, chimney inspection, etc.), and an evaluation of many of the components of the home and their life expectancy. The safety aspect of the components is also evaluated and recommendations are made by the home inspector. What a home inspection is not is an insurance policy or guarantee for the home. It is not intended to predict the future life expectancy of the home’s components, nor is it a report for cosmetic repair.

The home inspector visually inspects the home, writes a report and a defect summary accompanied by pictures of the defect. This is true for a home inspection and a termite report. In respect to radon inspections, a testing device is typically left at the home in a closed environment for a period of 48 hours. The results are evaluated against the standard that the EPA has set — an action level of 4 pCi/L. Anything at this level or above should be remediated. Inspections may also include water, if there is a well or septic. Usually these two inspections are performed by separate inspectors. A pool/hot tub inspection may also be requested by the buyers.

The buyer’s agent or attorney will review the inspector’s report(s) with the buyers and a request to repair items that are deemed defective are then negotiated within specified timeframes negotiated within the agreement of sale. The buyer may accept the property as is, request repairs, or in some cases, ask for a credit. The buyer may also elect to terminate the agreement based on the report. Credits are handled in methods that comply with the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), which protects consumers from abusive practices and higher settlement charges.

Every buyer should have inspections on the property that they are purchasing, even if it is new construction. For example, if a buyer is involved in a foreclosure, the property is usually “as is.” In this situation I would highly recommend the home be inspected to ensure that the buyer is protected from purchasing an extremely defective home or on the other hand, give them peace of mind that they are fully aware of repairs or remediation that may be necessary after the purchase. In the example of new construction, I would recommend at a minimum that the home be inspected just prior to drywall installation to evaluate the structure, electrical, plumbing, and ventilation prior to drywall. The objective here would be to determine if defects are present or perhaps installation of such items was improperly installed. In any instance, always consider having a home inspection prior to making a purchase!

Image Source: Flickr/Chris Potter/

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