Home Inspections - A One Time Investment You Want to Get Right!
You’ve finally saved up that down payment, found a realtor, and made an offer on a beautiful home. But now they want you to spend $500 on an inspection? Seriously? Yes, very seriously.
What is the inspection?
Your inspection is your opportunity to learn what is lurking inside the walls of your home. It will alert you to future costs and problems that you can anticipate, as well as red flags for this big investment. The inspection becomes your negotiation tool AFTER you have made the offer. You can use the report to bring the total sale to a lower cost or to ask the current owners to make investments into your future home for you.
As Alok mentioned in his home-buying article, inspections (plural) need to be part of your budget. Since this is such an important step, you’ll need to ensure you hire the right person.
How do I find a good inspector?
So glad you asked. Finding a good inspector and carefully interpreting the inspection results are essential. You can find a certified home inspector by visiting the American Society for Home Inspectors and running a search based on location. We recommend selecting an inspector who has a certified inspector badge, and cross checking them on sites such as Home Advisor and Angie's List where you can find reviews.
Whether you find your inspector online or through a referral, be sure to check your inspector’s credentials. You should ask them for their license and insurance documents.
What else should I consider?
When you interview the inspector, be sure to ask if you can join them for the inspection. And then do it. Take time off from work, and join them for the inspection. This will allow you to ask questions as they make observations and really learn the details of your home. If an inspector is hesitant about letting you join them, you should be hesitant about hiring them.
Why should I budget for multiple inspections?
The standard home inspector’s report will cover the condition of the home’s heating system; central air conditioning system (temperature permitting); interior plumbing and electrical systems; the roof, attic and visible insulation; walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors; the foundation, basement and structural components. Some additional inspections you should consider, often depending on what the initial inspection turns up, include: chimney, termite, radon, mold, and indoor air quality.
Pro Tip: Do not only consider hiring the inspector your real estate agent recommends. There could be a conflict of interest. This isn't always the case, but in mine, it was.
I can tell you from personal experience that not hiring a good inspector or not understanding the inspection report can turn an exciting life event into a devastating disaster. This is not an area to skimp! In the grand scheme of things, paying $500 - 1,000 to potentially negotiate thousands off of the sale price of the home and save you some serious long term headache is well worth the cost.