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What Buyers Should Know About Home Inspections

Written by on Wednesday, 28 January 2015 1:37 pm
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For many first-time buyers, buying a home can be a scary experience. They know they'll be maintaining or improving a home with little to no maintenance experience, so the solution is to buy a home in perfect condition. So they hire a home inspector to point out all the flaws.

The problem is -- no perfect home exists. Air conditioners break, plumbing pipes leak, and roof tiles blow off in the wind.

If you're buying a home, start with a reasonable expectation of what home inspectors can do. Their job is to inform you about the integrity and condition of what you're buying, good and bad.

A home inspection should take several hours, long enough to cover all built-in appliances, all mechanical, electrical, gas and plumbing systems, the roof, foundation, gutters, exterior skins, windows and doors.

An inspector doesn't test for pests or sample the septic tank. For those, you need industry-specific inspectors.

Here's what else you need to do.

1. Make sure the inspector you hire is licensed. The responsibilities of home inspectors vary according to state law and their areas of expertise.

2. Ask what the inspection covers. Some inspection companies have extensive divisions that can provide environmental for radon and lead paint. Be prepared to hire and schedule several inspectors according to your lender's requirements and to pay several hundred dollars for each type of inspection.

3. Some inspection reports only cover the main house, not other buildings on the property. For specialty inspections such as termites, make sure the inspection covers all buildings on the property including guest houses, detached garages, storage buildings, etc.

4. Attend the inspection and follow along with the inspectors. Seeing problems for yourself will help you understand what's serious, what needs replacement now or later, and what's not important.

5. Don't expect the seller to repair or replace every negative found on the report. If you're getting a VA or FHA-guaranteed loan, some items aren't negotiable. The seller must address them, but otherwise, pick your battles with the seller carefully.

A home inspection points out problems, they also point out what's working well. It can help you make your final decision about the home - to ask the seller to make repairs or to offer a little less, to buy as is or not to buy at all.

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  About the author, Blanche Evans

4 comments

  • Comment Link Susan Hirst Tuesday, 26 May 2015 2:07 pm posted by Susan Hirst

    Thank you very much for this advice. Like you said, home buying can be a scary experience. My husband and I want to be sure that we are buying a good home, so we want to hire a building inspector to inspect potential homes. Your advice about making sure that the inspector we hire is licensed was very helpful. We'll be sure to do that.

    http://www.homeinspectionassoc-ma.com

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  • Comment Link Deanna R. Jones Tuesday, 28 April 2015 6:48 pm posted by Deanna R. Jones

    Thanks for the tips! It's a good idea for homeowners to know what to expect when hiring inspectors. The information in tip #3 seems especially important for me to know. I have a couple of sheds that aren't part of the main house. It's good to know that there are some inspection reports that will only cover the main house. I'll be sure to ask for a specialty inspection to check for termites in my house and my storage sheds.

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  • Comment Link Murielle Mathurin Wednesday, 15 April 2015 9:18 am posted by Murielle Mathurin

    I totally agree with everything the writer of the article mentioned. It is a lot to think about, or sometimes, one never thought of by thinking that people are loyal. They would fix every problem in the house before asking a million for it. They become selfish by only thinking about how much money they are going to make.

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  • Comment Link Bill Carmichael Monday, 02 February 2015 10:51 am posted by Bill Carmichael

    Unfortunately, Iowa does not have a license requirement. Anyone who can take a course can be a home inspector, good bad or whatever - be smart hire a licensed plumber, electrician, heating contractor, if you need you can hire a engineer or architect. Far better inspection and for about same or less than you pay an unlicensed person in Iowa.

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