Why a home inspection?
A home inspection is typically done when buying a new home. An inspection can reveal structural or systems problems and suggest courses of action to have them fixed and maintained properly in the future. Furthermore, it can help prepare a list of repair requests for the seller as a condition of purchase and arm you with practical advice to help you keep your new home in good shape once you're the owner.
What a home inspection provides
A home inspection does not determine the value of a home or tell you whether you should or should not buy it. It identifies problems and gives recommendations to remedy them. If the home inspector uncovers serious problems, you may be advised to bring in additional specialists for an exact diagnosis and repair recommendations. The home inspection may miss a problem the house has, and it does not protect you from future problems. You may therefore want to consider purchasing a home warranty to cover for these circumstances.
A good home inspector will check:
- Foundation for cracks or leaks
- Exterior for repair or maintenance needs
- Heating and cooling systems for proper functioning
- Plumbing for leaks, water pressure problems and proper functioning
- Kitchen appliances for proper functioning
- Electrical outlets and operations
- Gas fireplace for proper functioning
- Door and windows for tight seals and proper operation
- Floors and walls for sinking, buckling and cracks
- Basement for cracks or leaks
- Roof for condition and expected remaining lifespan
Additionally, your home inspector may include or charge extra for radon testing, mold testing and a termite inspection.
How to choose a home inspector
Get an objective opinion. Don't choose a home inspector that is recommended by the real estate agent. The agent's objective is to sell the house with as few problems as possible, which presents a conflict of interest.
Ask around. Ask friends. Ask neighbors. Ask coworkers. Check experience, certifications and insurance, and choose someone who does home inspections exclusively, not in addition to a repair business which could present a conflict of interest.
Check Kudzu.com. Check here for a list of home inspectors. Read reviews from Atlanta consumers like you.
Ask about price, time involved and what you'll get. A typical home inspection costs a few hundred dollars and takes 2-4 hours, depending on the size, age and condition of the house. You should receive a verbal report at the end of the inspection and a written report (not just a checklist) a day or two later.