Homebuyers: What to Expect at the Home Inspection
Buying a home often is one of the largest investments you make in life. A significant amount of planning goes into this purchase, and the actual buying process has several steps that need to be followed. During this process it’s essential to learn as much about the house as possible — even if it’s a new or newer construction. Homebuyers looking to purchase a single-family home, town home, or condominium need to schedule a home inspection.
The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) defines a home inspection as, “… an objective visual examination of the physical structure and systems of a house, from the roof to the foundation.”
A quality home inspection helps identify any need for repairs or maintenance. Having a home inspected by a professional and certified home inspector ensures issues with the home are identified before the final paperwork is completed and signed. When buying a fixer-upper, a home inspection can help determine if the work needed on the house is worth the time, money, and effort or if there are any unexpected problems hidden away.
Areas included in the professional home inspection include but are not limited to are the home’s:
- Exterior, including roof
- Foundation, structure, and basement
- Interior, including attic, ceilings, floors, walls, doors, and windows
- HVAC, electrical, and plumbing systems
- Visible insulation
The home inspector won’t evaluate any specialty systems like a home alarm or satellite TV, or amenities like a swimming pool, hot tub, or tennis court.
Common Questions Asked About Home Inspections
Even if you’re not a first time homebuyer, it may be five, ten, or more years since your last property purchase. Asking the right questions about the home inspection can help eliminate worries and confusion.
- Am I, the homebuyer, responsible for hiring the home inspector?
- How much will it cost?
- Do I, the homebuyer, have to be there for the inspection?
- Can the house fail?
Typically, the homebuyer is responsible for hiring and paying for the home inspection. Prices vary depending on the region, but on average expect it to cost between $200 and $500. The greater the square footage of the home, the more it may cost. The home buyer isn’t required to be present at the home inspection, but it’s allowed and often recommended. A full, written report will be prepared and presented to the homebuyer after the inspection. There is no pass or fail with a home inspection; however, the report will detail any issues and their level of severity.
A buyer’s repair addendum lets the seller know which issues from the home inspection need attention. The repair addendum allows the homebuyer to make any special repair/maintenance request like replacing a broken window or reattaching a missing downspout. Repair addendums may also include larger issues like mold remediation or a leaking roof. The homebuyer may opt to renegotiate the asking price based on the repairs needed or even choose to not buy the house.
When adding any items to the repair addendum, first ask if the issue is something you can fix on your own — something that falls more into the maintenance category. An example would be a kitchen drawer that doesn’t close properly or missing cabinet hardware. These items usually are left off a repair addendum. Focus more on any big issues like a furnace that doesn’t work properly.
Remember, a home inspection isn’t something to cause you worry or stress. It’s part of the home buying process and it’s there to help give you the complete picture of your home. Because buying a home is one of the biggest purchases of lifetime, it’s essential to know exactly what the home has to offer. Most homes do have some flaws, but don’t let those imperfections scare you away from what could be the home of your dreams.