Home Inspection 101

A little insight into home inspections.

You've located your next home. You love the neighborhood. Everything seems perfect.

But if you and your real estate agent are ready to submit an offer, take time to invest in another professional opinion.

Let a licensed home inspector also give a thumbs up. The move could save you some major headaches before you buy.

If purchasing a HUD, REO (real estate-owned) or bank-foreclosed home, an inspection may have already been performed. Ask the selling agent for a copy of the results.

If scheduling an inspection, know that they must be done within a certain amount of time per the real estate contract. Also, be sure the utilities are on so that all mechanicals may be tested.

Why Use a Home Inspector?
  • They may uncover an electical wiring problem that could be a fire hazard.
  • They may identify a code violation.

  • They will note problem areas focusing on asbestos, radon, methane, radiation, lead, mold and fungi or pests.

Benefits to the Buyer
  • May provide a chance to renegotiate.

  • May present an opportunity to opt out of purchase.

  • May reveal more about your new home.

Benefits to the Seller
  • May identify potential impediments to the sale.

Questions When Choosing a Home Inspector

  • What's your level of experience?
    • Ideally, you want someone with a home-building background who's been in the business for 15 years. Also, check if he's continuing his education so you'll know he's keeping up with the latest industry standards and practices.

  • How many inspections do you perform annually?
    • A full-time inspector performs about 250 inspections a year.

  • Do you have references?

    • If friends and family can't offer a home inspector, check reputations among the Kudzu reviews.

  • Do they carry Errors & Omissions insurance?

    • To err is human, but make sure any forgiveness doesn't cost you. This policy pays you for any problem the inspector didn't detect or omitted.

  • How long will the inspection take?

    • Depending on the size of the property, a thorough inspection should take between 2-to-5 hours. Try to schedule inspections early in the day.

  • May I attend the inspection?

    • If refused, find another inspector. Taking this informed tour with an expert is a great way to get acquainted with your new home. But know he'll be climbing in the attic and crawling under the house. It is best if you don't crawl around in those areas.

  • What type of report will I receive?

    • Most inspectors will provide a copy on-site. A more thorough computer-generated report is usually emailed within 24 hours. Avoid simple checklist reports. The more information you receive the better. Many provide the report in a binder.

    What to Expect
    • A home inspector should follow the standards and practices set forth by The American Society of Home Inspectors and/or the National Association of Home Inspectors. Although these standards vary somewhat, they cover what a home inspector is required to inspect and what areas are exempt from a normal visual inspection. If you don't see the limitations of the visual inspection, ask if there were any.

    • A written report should include the following:

        Overview: Detailed picture of house, itemizing major components and their condition.
        Maintenance items: Listing of items requiring normal upkeep.
        Major Repairs: Listing of defects with potential to create significant additional expenses in the near term.

    • Inspections range from $225 to $500.

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