With a purchase as sizable as a home, you’ll want to make sure there are no surprises … and no headaches. That’s why it’s important to have the house inspected.
Inspections — several of them — are a common part of real estate transactions. They include checks for termites, surveys to ensure property boundaries, appraisals to determine value for lenders, title reviews and structural inspections.
The structural inspection may be the most important component for a homebuyer. During this process, an inspector travels to the property to determine if there are physical defects and whether extensive and expensive repairs are likely to be needed in the next few years.
A typical inspection of a single-family home lasts for two to three hours, and the buyer should attend. It represents a chance for the buyer to closely examine the purchase, ask questions and learn more about the property.
Home inspections generally cost between $250 and $350. The cost depends on the size of the house and where the home is located. Real estate agents usually can recommend an experienced home inspector. They can also be found in the Yellow Pages under "Building Inspection" or "Home Inspection." The American Society of Home Inspectors also has a database of qualified inspectors on its Web site, http://www.ashi.com/.
Homebuyers usually seek an inspection after signing a contract or purchase agreement with the seller. The results of the inspection may be available within a few days. The inspector will review the findings and let the potential buyer know about any costly or potentially hazardous conditions.
It is recommended that a home inspection be included in the contingencies of a purchase offer. This allows the buyer to back out of a deal if a major problem is found. Additionally, if costly repairs are required, the seller might adjust the price of the home or terms of the contract.
A home inspection should include environmental inspections. The water should be tested because safe drinking water is necessary for a healthy lifestyle. Test for radon, a radioactive gas that has been found in homes across the United States. Test for lead, because lead-based residential paint was not banned in the U.S. until 1978.
You should receive a written report that is detailed at the conclusion of the inspection. Make sure you receive more than a checklist. The following points should be fully covered during any home inspection: structural integrity, plumbing, heating air conditioning and electrical systems. The inspection should include a check for termites as well as a check for asbestos-containing materials.
At the conclusion of the inspection, a buyer should know all positive and negative aspects of the home about to be purchased as well as any repairs that might be needed, the urgency of those repairs and the cost of the repairs. The buyer should also be aware of any safety issues that need attention.Problems in any of the following areas should raise a red flag for a homebuyer:
- Heating system
- Air conditioning system
- Electrical wiring
- Integrity of the roof
- Integrity of the walls, attic, ceilings, floors, windows and doors
- Integrity of the foundation
- Integrity of the basement