Why Home Inspections Are Important
Most home buyers would agree, looking for a bargain and ways to save money on their purchase transaction are important. That is a good attitude to have, and you should think of your home purchase as a business transaction. There are good ways to save money: Begin planning early, shop and compare the terms and loans offered by several lenders, consult with an agent about home values and sales numbers. But, there are also some attempts many home buyers make to save money that actually end up costing them much more. Some think they save money by skipping a home inspection. A thorough home inspection by a qualified third-party is vital for you to make an informed purchase decision. Here are a few things to know about home inspections and what you can expect.
Should you hire a home inspector for a new construction?
For many families, new construction is the best choice. Building materials and techniques utilized today produce highly energy-efficient homes that require little maintenance. With new HVAC systems and appliances, it is reasonable to anticipate many worry-free years of home ownership. For this reason, a lot of people buying a newly-constructed home rely solely on the building codes inspector, builder's reputation, and their own visual inspection of the work quality.
It is important to remember that the building codes inspector is looking for minimal compliance. This inspector is not looking for issues that may cause you problems years ahead. Oftentimes, these inspectors are very busy and may develop relationships with builders that can compromise the integrity of their reports.
The builder's warranty is typically for just one year. Many moisture problems are not apparent during the first few years of ownership. The ongoing grading and landscaping that takes place around new homes often leads to moisture issues for the basement or crawl space. To prevent moisture from wicking into the seals and floor joist, landscaping should always be at least six inches below the framing. The workers for many landscape companies just want it to look good. They may not know about or follow that standard.
When builders get a home under contract, they hurriedly finish the project so they can move on to the next. Even small, independent builders will have more than one house under construction simultaneously. This can lead to less knowledgeable and less experienced workers doing much of the work without a licensed builder's supervision.
A smoother transaction
It is much easier to get builders to make corrections prior to closing. Many of the defects are simply minor cosmetic issues. Regardless of your relationship with the builder or their reputation, their bottom line is always a top priority. They will be reluctant to pull workers from the next house to go back and make minor corrections on one that has already closed. No reputable builder should object to you hiring a certified home inspector to perform a thorough inspection on your home. Even the best builders are not perfect.
Many buyers start by looking for a Real Estate Owned by banks or lenders (REO) homes that may suit their family's needs. Many agents specialize in the buying and selling of foreclosures. Purchasing a foreclosure can be a challenging and long process. Because the current owner never occupied the home, they cannot provide a Seller's Disclosure Statement. REO properties are sold AS-IS. Buyers and potential buyers are given a timeframe in which to have inspections conducted. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) often provides a copy of their own home inspection to potential buyers. But you should never purchase a foreclosure without your own thorough third-party inspection by a certified inspector and hiring your own attorney for a title search.
Private sellers of existing homes
All states require home sellers who have occupied the property to provide a Seller's Disclosure Statement. The actual form varies by state. California has the most in-depth version. Most are simple forms with several questions requiring a "Yes" or "No" response to any known issues. It is rare that anyone would intentionally mislead potential buyers about the condition of their home. It is also extremely rare that the seller actually knows the conditions that exist in the home's attic and crawl space. Few home owners ever inspect the condition of shingles or test the operation of their HVAC.
What to expect from the home inspection
Home buyers should attend the home inspection. It will take a few hours, depending on the size of the house. The fee is typically based on square footage of the home. A standard inspection includes the following:
- HVAC system and ductwork
- A visual inspection of plumbing and pressure test
- Interior inspection and test of the electrical system and its components
- The roof, exterior siding, and foundation
- The interior walls, ceilings, and floors
- A test of the built-in kitchen appliances
The home inspector will focus on the condition and structure. They will point out any possible safety concerns and issues that may cause problems in the future. The process is primarily a visual inspection by a knowledgeable third-party with years of experience. They are not able to test areas that are inaccessible. They take their time and use some equipment to test systems. They do not do any destructive testing. They provide the client with a detailed report and photos of any defects mentioned.
In addition to the standard items covered by a typical home inspection, most companies offer several optional inspection services like radon testing, lead paint screening, pools, mold testing, water quality, and more. Consult with your agent about any concerns you have and to learn more about the availability of other optional inspections. If the need arises, they will help you use the home inspection report to re-negotiate the purchase contract. Your agent is with you for every step of the transaction to ensure you have all the information you need to purchase the home you want at the best possible price.