What You Need to Know About Home Inspections

Having your home inspected before purchase is the best way to minimize unpleasant surprises and unexpected difficulties. A home inspection can help you identify the need for repairs, maintenance, and possibly preventative measures to avoid future problems.

Standard Inspection

The standard home inspection report typically covers the condition of the home’s heating and central air conditioning system; interior plumbing and electrical systems; the roof, attic and visible insulation; walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors; the foundation, basement and structural components. Regulations vary from state to state, so be sure to know the requirements. For more information regarding inspection standards, visit American Society of Home Inspectors.

The fee for inspection varies depending on the size and age of your home, its location, and the addition of optional services like septic, well, and radon testing. Expect to spend at least a several hundred dollars for an adequate inspection. Other additional inspections include, lead (required for homes built before 1978), environmental hazards (asbestos, formaldehyde, and petroleum), and soil (condition of soil around foundation and retaining walls).

Be aware that a home inspection is not a pass/fail examination. It is not an appraisal or a municipal inspection to verify code compliance. Your home cannot “fail” an inspection, but rather it describes its physical condition and indicates what needs to be repaired.

Typically, a home inspection is done soon after the purchase agreement is signed. However, before you sign you should be sure that there is an inspection clause in the contract. This can be done on a contingency with the final purchase based on a professional home inspection and should specify the terms to which the buyer and seller are obligated.

Common Home Defects

Some of the most common defects and repair issues that home inspectors see are:

Poor drainage due to poor gutters and downspouts; faulty wiring due to an out-of-date electrical system; leaky roofs; unsafe heating systems; minor structural damage; plumbing issues; inadequate ventilation; and environmental hazards.

What to Do in Case of Defects

Some defects are serious, while others can be slight and an inspector can help you decide whether or not you need to act on the defects. Disclosure laws vary from state to state and can range from voluntary seller disclosure to mandatory seller disclosure questionnaires. At least thirty states require the seller provide information to the buyer about the condition of the home. To determine disclosure laws in your state.

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