Home Safety: Why Home Inspection Is A Must!
Home Inspection Can Make Or Break A House Sale
Twenty-five years ago, the idea of professional home inspection was relatively unknown to all but the most cautious home buyers. Today roughly 45 percent of all homes sold in the United States are inspected prior to purchase. Rising prices, increased litigation and greater sophistication on the part of consumers have helped make home inspection an integral and growing part of the home-buying process. In addition, many real-estate contracts now stipulate that the sale is contingent upon the buyer's satisfaction with a home inspector's report.
A home inspection is the visual survey of the various components that make up a house and its immediate surroundings, including a brief check on mechanical equipment such as heating and air-conditioning systems and hot-water heater.
A Good Home Inspection Will Catch Most Of The Problems
I stress visual in the definition because sometimes clients have unrealistic expectations about what an inspector can detect. It's important to understand that the inspection covers only those portions of the building that can be seen and does not include portions that are concealed.
If an inspector can't see an item, he or she can only make an educated guess about its condition. Inspectors don't move furniture or equipment, lift carpeting or remove pictures from walls to observe covered, hidden or concealed conditions. They don't open walls or dig up septic systems or buried oil tanks. Neither does home inspection include checking for compliance with local municipal, state and federal building codes.
Nevertheless, hundreds of items within the house and on the exterior are routinely inspected and evaluated, giving prospective home buyers (and sellers) a clearer view of the dwelling in question.
A Thorough Home Inspection Answers Many Questions
Here are some, but certainly not all, of the questions a home inspector tries to answer for prospective home buyers:
- Are the electrical service and wiring adequate?
- Are aluminum wires used for branch circuits (a potential fire hazard)?
- Is the hot-water system adequate for the family's needs?
- Is there evidence of termite damage?
- Are the heating and central air-conditioning systems working properly?
- Are there any obvious fire hazards, such as lack of fire-code Sheetrock in appropriate areas?
- Does the plumbing system combine copper, brass and/or iron piping?
- Is the plumbing properly vented?
- Is the attic adequately insulated and ventilated?
- Does the roof need repair or replacement?
- Is there evidence of delaminating roof sheathing?
- Do foundation walls, girders, floor joists, columns and/or partitions show signs of structural problems?
- Is there evidence of water seepage in the basement or crawl space?
- Do faulty drainage conditions exist around the structure?
- Is there evidence of a septic problem?
Most home inspections are performed for prospective home buyers, who often use a home-inspection report to help them negotiate a better price. Buyers might argue, for instance, that since the inspector found inadequate electrical service that will cost $2,000 to remedy, they want to reduce their initial offer to account for the cost of that upgrade.
More and more, however, home sellers are beginning to avail themselves of the service in an effort to anticipate just such negotiating setbacks. If the seller has her house inspected before putting it on the market, she will be fully aware of the home's deficiencies and may either correct the problems or make it clear to potential buyers that the selling price reflects the issues detailed in the inspector's report. That way, the buyer can't really use his own home inspection to negotiate a lower price.
Check Out Your Home Inspection Provider Carefully!
Unfortunately, in most States just about anybody can hang out a home inspector's shingle. In a number of cases, they may not be qualified as home inspectors per se, although they may be quite competent in some single aspect of the building trades, be it in roofing, plumbing, carpentry or even as an engineer.
Good home inspectors are generalists. They know enough about all the components and systems that exist in residential structures to be able to recognize deficiencies, problems and potential problems. A tradesperson may be, say, a good plumber, but may lack a solid grasp of the problems caused by insufficient attic ventilation. And just because a person is an engineer does not mean that he or she is qualified as a home inspector, unless that engineer has been specializing in home inspection.
When selecting a home inspector, choose one who is a member of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) and/or the National Academy of Building Inspection Engineers (NABIE). Both organizations have a standard of practice, a code of ethics and rigid entrance requirements, whereby candidates must demonstrate proficiency in home inspection before being granted membership.
The Most Common Home Inspection Problems
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