Are you in the midst of buying a home and considering whether to spend the extra $300-$500 to hire a home inspector? This could be one of the most important things you do through the entire home buying process. Protect what could be your largest investment from being a potential money pit. Sellers are not in the market to do high value repairs so it’s up to you to find a competent home inspector to uncover what has been painted over and concealed. Here are a few tips to assist in your search for the best home inspector.
First, look for an inspector who is affiliated with a professional inspection organization such as NAHI, the National Institute of Building Inspectors, and the American Society of Home Inspectors. “These are some of the most reputable inspector associations. Inspectors who are fully certified by ASHI, the nation’s oldest such group, are required to have completed at least 250 paid professional home inspections and passed two written exams, ” says Christopher Solomon of MSN Real Estate.
Once you’ve narrowed potential inspectors down, ask for a sample report they provide the homeowner and exclude any with only a few pages. A certified home inspector should produce a 20-50 page detailed report with pictures of the house’s condition from top to bottom. According to Bob Vila, the comprehensive report should include “windows, doors, trim, siding, roof and chimneys. The report should also include an assessment of the building’s structure and mention any signs of settling or instability. It should cover the siting of the house on the lot and tell you if there are any drainage issues you should be worried about.” It will also give you an idea of the age and safety of all the mechanical systems in the house such as the heating and central air conditioning systems. They will also check plumbing, electrical systems, attic, visible insulation, walls, ceilings, floors, foundations and whether anything is unsafe or needs to be replaced.
Next, ask for references. Contact references and ask two very important questions; whether they discovered any major defects after the closing that the inspector missed, and whether they’d use him again.
The average time it takes for a single inspector to thoroughly go through a home is two to three hours. If possible, it’s best for the potential homeowner to attend the home inspection. It’s a “valuable educational opportunity for you to learn about how things work around what could be your new home, and the inspector may point out things that don’t quite merit a mention in the report but which you should keep an eye on. An inspector’s refusal to allow you to be present should raise a red flag,“ according to the ASHI.
Finally, once the inspection is complete and you have your report, negotiate with the seller based on the findings to either reduce the sale price of the home or determine how the problem will be fixed. “When you make an offer it’s wise to have a contingency clause based on the home inspection. In other words, if the inspector finds $10,000 worth of problems and the seller doesn’t want to provide the fix, you can rescind your offer,” according to Michele Dawson or Realtor.com.
Hiring a certified home inspector to evaluate your potential home may not only save you a tremendous amount of stress but a substantial amount of money in costly repairs in the long run. Remember, one home repair alone could well exceed the cost of a home inspector.