Home Inspection: a Small Investment with a Big Payoff

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A light switch installed inside a shower. Furnace vents placed outside bedroom windows. Disconnected waste pipes.

Search online for “home inspection nightmares” and you will find some unbelievable and dangerous construction blunders. As a home inspector for the past 10 years, Bill Craig of Affordable Home Inspections and Services headquartered in Carrollton can tell some wild stories of his own. However, his main message is that whether you are buying or selling your home, a home inspection is a small price to pay for big peace of mind down the road.

Every home experiences normal wear and tear, Craig says. Unfortunately, sometimes seemingly minor issues can lead to major problems with the structural, electrical, or mechanical integrity of a house. While no one person can examine the condition of every nail, wire, or pipe in the home, a trained and licensed home inspector can provide an evaluation of the home on that day and catch potentially expensive or dangerous concerns.

If you are buying a home, you will benefit from an independent home inspection because you will be better informed about the current condition of the home you are considering. Common problems identified during a home inspection are water damage to the foundation and roof, exposed electrical wires, and aging water pipes.

“The Home Inspector is primarily concerned with pointing out adverse conditions and/or safety-related concerns, rather than small or cosmetic items, which are considered readily apparent to the buyers,” according to the National Association of Home Inspectors.

Catching concerns early can help you, the prospective homebuyer, and your REALTOR better assess the market value of the property and determine whether or not the home will be a safe, wise investment, Craig says.

An independent home inspection benefits you as a seller, too. If you are selling your home, you already have an idea of maintenance and upkeep issues. However, a home inspection can identify the most serious concerns before you place your home on the market. Craig recommends having a home inspection prior to listing a home with a REALTOR® so you can make the necessary repairs. Otherwise, you might have to lower the selling price of your home in order to compensate for the repairs a buyer will have to make later or worse, forfeit the sale altogether.

Craig says the typical home inspection takes from two to four hours. Several major areas of the home are examined during the inspection including:

Site: Grading and Drainage, Drives/Walks, Decks, Patios, and Retaining Walls
Exterior: Siding, Windows, Doors, Roof Surface, Gutters, and Flashing
Structural: Foundation/Basement, Crawl Space, Floor Systems and Framing, Roof Structure, and Attic
Mechanical and Electrical: Heating and Cooling Systems, Electrical Panel and Devices, Receptacles and Switches, Light Fixtures
Plumbing: Water Heaters, Bath Fixtures and Fittings, Water Drain Lines, Seals, and Valves
Interior: Doors and Windows, Fireplaces, Stairs, Cabinets, Flooring, Walls, Ceiling Surfaces

Though the homeowner does not have to be present during the inspection, many items in the inspection are best explained while the home inspector is on site, Craig says. Once the inspection is completed, the inspector will prepare a written report identifying problem areas. The home inspection does not estimate the cost to make repairs or assess the value of any aspect of the home. Nor does it recommend whether or not a buyer should purchase a home.

“If the inspection identifies that the home has problems, it does not mean that you shouldn’t purchase the property or that you won’t be able to sell your home. It means you will know in advance what to expect. In addition, you may negotiate with the seller or buyer for repairs that have or have not been made,” Craig said.

A home inspection generally costs around $250-$325 depending on the size of the house. Some homeowners or homebuyers might think they can do an inspection themselves to save money. However, the typical homeowner lacks the knowledge and expertise of a professional home inspector, according to the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI).

“An inspector is familiar with the elements of home construction, proper installation, maintenance, and home safety. He or she knows how the home’s systems and components are intended to function together, as well as why they fail,” according to the ASHI website.

“Above all, most buyers find it difficult to remain completely objective and unemotional about the house they really want, and this may have an effect on their judgment. For accurate information, it is best to obtain an impartial, third-party opinion by a professional in the field of home inspection.”
No house is perfect, but with a credible home inspection, homeowners and homebuyers can feel more confident about the condition of the home prior to entering into any contracts. The small cost of a home inspection is an investment in long-term peace of mind.

For more information about Affordable Home Inspections and Services, visit their website or contact Bill Craig at 404.626.7726.