As a homebuyer, conducting a home inspection is one of the most critical steps a homebuyer must take when buying a house. As a home seller, conducting a prelist inspection is equally as critical (and can even save you thousands of dollars!) The reason is that an inspection ensures that the house is in its best condition possible, or at least in the condition warranted by the seller. Although not required by the lender, an inspection is highly encouraged, and every homebuyer should conduct their own as well as hire a professional inspection.
Benefits of home inspections
A home inspection helps reveal any property defects that can affect its safety, livability, and resale value. A professional home inspector digs deeper and goes beyond the obvious cosmetic physical appearance of the house. They look for major deficiencies in a house by pointing out key areas that can pose a danger to occupants if not carefully addressed.
Another benefit is that when homebuyers identify issues that need repair, they may save money by negotiating with the seller on the final home price. They can ask the seller for a discount or ask the seller to repair the damage discovered during the home inspection.
When to get a home inspection
Prospective homebuyers should never wait until they make an offer for a particular house for them to start searching for a home inspector. In most cases, the purchase contract outlines the timeline in which a home inspection exercise should be carried out, mostly 7 to 14 days.
Most homebuyers do not manage to hire a reputable home inspector of their choice with such short notice. That’s why homebuyers need to engage certified home inspectors in advance to avoid settling on someone who is not their preferred candidate or failing to meet the set home inspection deadline.
If a homebuyer fails to meet the home inspection deadline, the home seller may be at liberty to accept or refuse to make any repairs that the home inspection report might suggest.
Types of home inspections
There are at least three types of home inspections. Any, some, or none of these can be conducted before closing escrow. The home inspection types include:
Do it yourself (DIY) home inspection
Homebuyers can also conduct a quick personal pre-inspection when they visit a home for sale. If the house has too many obvious deficiencies, homebuyers usually notice them at first sight. A personal inspection saves home buyers both time and money, as they will not waste their resources bidding on a defective or sub-par home.
Some of the warning signs that homebuyers check for include: cracks on the foundation, dampness in the basement, quality of general workmanship, and the exteriors. However, a homebuyer’s inspection should never replace a professional house inspection done by a certified home inspector. These are important for several reasons, as described below.
Professional home inspection
Hiring a professional home inspector for a certified home inspection is highly advisable. Their services go beyond what homebuyers see on the surface. That’s what they do best, and because of their vast experience in home inspection services, they do a thorough inspection, and they can easily unearth hidden potential areas that need repair.
Some of the key areas that professional home inspectors check their status include the roof, driveways, foundation, electrical works, HVAC, exteriors, framing, and plumbing works. They give unbiased reports about the house’s current condition and advise the homebuyer if the house has cracks or other structural problems that might be risky to future dwellers.
Government (VA or FHA Loan) home inspection
Veteran Affairs (VA) and Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans are government assistance programs that help homebuyers purchase their dream home. A home inspection from an independent company or inspector is not required when a buyer applies for a government-assisted loan. Nonetheless, an inspection is highly encouraged, as it protects the home buyer from hidden (or blatant) damage.
But whereas inspections are not required, a VA home appraisal is mandatory by the lender. It is conducted to determine the property’s value to help ensure the loan is not larger than the value of the property.
How much does a home inspection cost?
Homebuyers have to hire reputable home inspectors who offer certified home inspection services in their area. Although the home inspection cost varies depending on the location and home size, a standard home inspection service should range from $200-$500. However, most home inspectors charge a fixed rate for homes of up to 2,000 square feet, and you can negotiate with them for any extra size if your house is bigger.
Common problems found during a home inspection
Some of the common house problems that are found during a home inspection exercise include:
- Cracks on the floor foundation of the house which could be a result of ground shifting or structural problems
- The roof and ceiling condition to determine if there are any leakages
- Dampness in the basement and poor insulation
- Poorly done attic, which is evident by the status of the interior roofing structure
- Low-quality general workmanship for the whole structure which might not meet homebuyers preferred standards
- Faulty electrical appliances and fixtures which are energy-efficient models
- Faulty or poorly maintained heating and cooling system
- Leaking water due to poor plumbing works
- Poorly maintained home exteriors, driveways, and lawn
- Old kitchen appliances and plumbing works
- Bathrooms not being up to standard. Small size, fixtures, and poor floor condition
Requesting repairs after home inspections
After a home inspection is completed, the homebuyer can request the seller fix a list of suggested repairs and improvements before both parties proceed to the next phase. If the home seller cannot make the necessary repairs, the homebuyer may request a credit or a concession, which is equivalent to the cost of repairs. It’s also not uncommon for homebuyers to simply walk away from a failed inspection!
Home inspections provide valuable insights to homebuyers as they assure them of both quality and safety. When a homebuyer hires a professional home inspector to conduct a certified home inspection exercise, they will have a clear understanding of their future home condition before committing to a home closing. Buying a home requires a huge investment, and home inspections ensure that homebuyers get value for their money.