Do I Need A House Inspection?
Before buying a home, it is important to get your future home checked out with a professional home inspector. Although many lenders do not require you to get a home inspection and leave it to you as an option, it is always recommended that you have an inspection done anyways. A home inspection can reveal whether buying a certain property is worth the investment or not, and today we will be diving into a few of the reasons as to why it's a smart idea.
What is a home inspection?
A home inspection is an examination of a property's safety and current conditions. They are used to provide an opportunity for a buyer to identify any major issues with a home prior to closing to determine whether the property is worth the investment.
What does a home inspection cover?
Inspectors vary in experience, ability, and thoroughness, but a good inspector should examine certain components of the home and then produce a report covering their findings. The typical home inspection will last approximately two or three hours and it's always recommended that the buyer is present during the inspection so you can get a firsthand explanation of any issues and can ask questions.
The inspector will complete a full inspection of the outside of the structure. This includes climbing into any crawlspace under the home and will inspect the roof, as well as other items.
- Exterior Walls
The inspector will check for damaged or missing siding, cracks, and whether the soil is excessively in close proximity with the bottom of the house (which can be inviting for termites). However, the home inspector is not responsible for checking for damage that may be caused by termites, for that you will need to hire a pest inspector. The home inspector will be able to let you know what problems are cosmetic and what is more serious.
A home inspector will not likely be able to examine the foundation if it's not visible, but there will be secondary evidence if there are foundation issues. Telltale signs can be floor cracks and sinking/settling of the foundation. If you're looking at the exterior of the property and it looks like one side is higher than the other, it can be an indicator that the foundation is sinking and may need to be lifted up so then repair piers can be installed. On average, foundation repairs can cost anywhere from $500-$10,000 depending on the severity of the issues.
Grading is just another way of saying "slope." Ideally, your land should slope away from the foundation. Water can get into the house and cause structural damage, so you will need to either change the slope of the yard or install a drainage system. The inspector will be able to tell you if the property has the correct grading or not.
- Garage or Carport
An inspector will test the garage door to see if it properly opens and closes, will check if the framing is visible, and will determine if the garage is properly ventilated. If there are any water stains on the floor, it can be an indication that water is getting under the door or through the cracks in the floor.
The inspector will check for areas where roof damage or poor installation could allow water to enter the home, such as loose, missing, or improperly secured shingles and cracked or damaged mastic around vents. They will also check the condition of the gutters.
The inspector will also need to complete a thorough inspection of the interior of the home. They will inspect everything from the ceiling to the cabinets under the sink.
All of the faucets and showers will be checked for any visible leaks and will have the water pressure tested. If any pipes are visible, they will also identify the kind of pipes used in the house. If the pipes are determined to be old, a secondary inspection is recommended to see if they might need to be replaced and what the final cost would look like. Then they will identify the location of the home's main water shut off valve.
The kind of wiring that the home has will be identified by the inspector once they test all of the outlets to make sure there are function ground fault circuit interrupters (which prevent you from electrocution, electric shock, and electrical burns). They will also check the electrical panel for any safety issues as well as that the electrical outlets do not present a fire hazard.
- HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning)
The inspector will look at your HVAC system to estimate the age of the furnace and air conditioner, determine if they function properly, and recommend repairs or maintenance. They can also give you an idea of the age of the home's ducting and if there is any asbestos insulation.
- Kitchen Appliances
This will not always be apart of the inspection, it just really depends on who your inspector is. If the house comes with kitchen appliances, you can ask to have them professionally checked out.
- Laundry Room
The laundry room will be checked for proper ventilation. A poorly maintained dryer-exhaust system can be a serious fire hazard.
- Fire Safety
If there is an attached garage, the inspector will make sure that the wall has the proper fire rating and that it hasn't been damaged in any way that would compromise its fire rating.
The bathrooms will be checked for any visible leaks, properly secured toilets, adequate ventilation, and any other issues. If the bathroom does not have a window or a ventilation fan, mold and mildew can become serious problems down the road.
A home inspection will cost you a little bit of time and money, but in the long run, you'll be glad you had it done. The inspection can reveal problems that may be able to get fixed by the current owners before you move in, or else it'll prevent you from inadvertently buying a money pit. Whatever the situation, addressing issues early through a home inspection can save you tens of thousands of dollars down the road.