Home Inspections Avert Future Headaches

Suppose you bought a house and later discovered, to your dismay, that
the stucco exterior concealed a nasty case of dry rot. Or suppose that
when you fired up the furnace in the winter, you discovered a cracked
heat exchanger leaking gas into your home. The best way to avoid
unpleasant surprises like these is to arrange for a home inspection
before you buy.

Home Inspections Help You Avoid Unpleasant Surprises

A good home inspection is an objective, top-to-bottom examination of a
home and everything that comes with it. The standard inspection report
includes a review of the home's heating and air-conditioning systems;
plumbing and wiring; roof, attic, walls, ceilings, floors, windows,
doors, foundation and basement.

Getting a professional inspection is crucial for older homes because
age often takes its toll on the roof and other hard-to-reach areas.
Problems can also be the result of neglect or hazardous repair work,
such as a past owner's failed attempt to install lights and an outlet in
a linen closet.

A home inspection is also a wise investment when buying a new home.
In fact, new homes frequently have defects, whether caused by an
oversight during construction or simply human error.

Getting an Inspector

Real estate agents can usually recommend an experienced home
inspector. Make sure to get an unbiased inspector. You can find one
through word-of-mouth referrals, or look in the Yellow Pages or online
under "Building Inspection" or "Home Inspection."

Home inspections cost about a few hundred dollars, depending on the
size of the house and location. Inspection fees tend to be higher in
urban areas than in rural areas. You may find the cost of inspection
high, but it is money well spent. Think of it as an investment in your
investment – your future home.

Some builders may try to dissuade you from getting a home inspection
on a home they've built. They may not necessarily be trying to hide
anything because most builders guarantee their work and will fix any
problems in your new home before you move in. Some builders, in fact,
will offer to do their own inspections. But it’s best to have an
objective professional appraisal - insist on a third-party inspector.

An Inspection Will Educate You about Your House

Education is another good reason for getting an inspection. Most
buyers want to learn as much as they can about their purchase so they
can protect their investment. An examination by an impartial home
inspector helps in this learning process.

Ask if you can follow the home inspector on his or her rounds. Most
inspectors are glad to share their knowledge, and you'll be able to ask
plenty of questions.

Inspection Timing and Results

Homebuyers usually arrange for an inspection after signing a contract
or purchase agreement with the seller. The results may be available
immediately or within a few days. The home inspector will review his or
her findings with you and alert you to any costly or potentially
hazardous conditions. In some cases, you may be advised not to buy the
home unless such problems are remedied.

You could include a clause in your purchase agreement that makes your
purchase contingent upon satisfactory inspection results. If major
problems are found, you can back out of the deal. If costly repairs are
warranted, the seller may be willing to adjust the home's price or the
contract's terms. But when only minor repairs are needed, the buyer and
seller can usually work out an agreement that won't affect the sale