The emotional aspect of being involved in the the purchase of a home is one of the main reasons that home buyers should not do their own home inspection unless they are very experienced and familiar with standard construction practices. Even with lots of experience it is good to take along a more objective person such as a friend, brother, uncle or someone knowledgeable that you trust.
A good Home Inspector will spend a generous amount of time on the inspection. A home inspection can not be done in the time span typically spent on a walk through with the Realtor and the owner. A one to two hour inspection on a 1500 square foot house is not adequate and will likely result in a report that is incomplete and not worth the money spent. An inspector should look at and report on all aspects of a home from the yard and grounds and driveway to the foundation to the roof top. Condition of the plumbing, electrical system, and the HVAC is critical to the report. If there is a crawlspace or attic that is accessible then the inspector should grab his flashlight and inspect all of the areas that are humanly possible to gain access to. All roofs can be inspected, even the steep slippery ones. If the roof is unsafe to walk on an inspector can view the roof with binoculars, or from the top of a ladder or from windows within the home.
A good Home Inspector will look carefully at the foundation, concrete floors, wall structure and general condition of the home. He can comment on his observations concerning the structural integrity of the home but only a structural Engineer can certify that a foundation or framework is structurally sound.
Some of the most common problems for homes are caused by the weather and elements. We can not live without water but having water in the wrong places within a home causes a myriad of problems such as mold, rot, insect pests, and odors – all of which can lead to health problems for some people.
The first line of defense to keeping water out of a home is a sound roof with correct flashing and properly positioned gutters and downspouts. A thorough inspection will determine the overall condition of the roof and gutter system, chimney and flashing, and will give an estimate on the remaining years the roof is likely to stay water tight under normal conditions.
It is important to remember that a home inspection is a visual inspection of readily accessible areas of the home. It takes time to look at all accessible areas of a home. A Home Inspector should spend a significant amount of time in order to give you the client a high quality fact-filled report. The report should be filled with lots of details and should cover areas that the buyer and possibly even the seller may not be aware of. Conditions of the rafters in the attic, whether or not the roof has sufficient ventilation, and the appearance of the chimney brick and cap should be included. For a larger home six or eight hours could be required.
All homes have defects, even the brand new million dollar homes. The purpose of a Home Inspector is not to criticize or shoot down the home and the report is definitely not intended to talk the prospective buyer out of the purchase. A quality inspector is not a deal killer but is rather a fact finder. More facts enable a better decision!
House hunters should be cautious about inspectors that quote extremely low prices or say that they can be finished in a short amount of time. Another red flag should be noted if a Realtor says that he has used the same Home Inspector for a long time and the guy can do it cheap. Why pay a low price for a quick and possibly worthless home inspection from your realtors buddy. Either go with your own choice of Home Inspector and possibly pay a little more or don’t do an inspection at all.
A good experienced Home Inspector can potentially save the buyer thousands in future repairs and may be able to give the buyer some facts and information that he can use to negotiate a lower price or get the seller to make the repairs before the sale. Your home will likely be the biggest investment of your life. Take steps to insure that it won’t be a money pit!