Whether you’re selling your first home or a buyer who is purchasing your fifth home, it is a huge event in anyone’s life. Before you buy or sell, a thorough home inspection from a qualified and certified inspector is key. Home inspections are typically required before purchase, but remember, an inspection is no guarantee, nor will it replace a warranty.
Here are some simple guidelines to help you through the inspection process.
- Cost: Home inspections typically cost between $200 and $400, depending on the square footage of your home.
- Who pays: Buyers are responsible for the inspection. In order to get to the settlement table, they must hire the inspector, have the inspections completed within a reasonable amount of time, and take on the cost.
- How long does it take: An inspection usually lasts between three and four hours.
- Repairs After Inspections Are Negotiable: Unlike paying for the inspections themselves, who pays for the necessary repairs is up for discussion. There are three typical outcomes to these negotiations: the seller can perform the repairs before settlement, the seller can credit the buyer money for the repairs, or they can become your responsibility themselves.
- What Do Home Inspections Cover: Since every property is different, the specifics of what is checked during your home’s inspection may very slightly. But, the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) suggests that qualified inspectors will check the following areas:
- Foundation and basement
- Any additional structural components
- Interior plumbing systems
- Interior electrical systems
- Heating and cooling systems
- Condition of windows
- Condition of doors and door frames
- Condition of floors, walls, and ceilings
- The attic and any visible insulation
- The Inspector Must Be Certified: A home inspector and a contractor are not the same thing. While a contractor may have know-how to fix existing home maintenance problems, home inspectors are specifically trained on how to identify problems, even if they are slight enough to be easily missed by others.
- How to Prepare for Inspection: Since the inspection period is a common culprit as to why real estate deals fall apart, it is important to take steps to prepare for the inspection and avoid issues that are quick and inexpensive to fix.
- Check your lighting (replace light bulbs, check light fixtures, and repair and replace as needed)
- Check out your home mechanics (roof damage, operating furnace, HVAC, hot water heater, electrical wiring and panel)
- Check the exterior (gutters, siding and exterior paint, fascia and soffits, driveway cracks, doorbell, trees and shrubs)
- Check your windows (are they all functional, do they have screens)
- Check your plumbing (working faucets, showers and tubs, working toilets, water pressure, septic systems)
- Check detectors (smoke detector, carbon monoxide detector, water leak detector)
- Check appliances (dishwasher, washing machine, dryer, oven, refrigerator, freezer)
After the inspection, read the report and talk with the inspector about any questions or concerns you may have. To avoid a conflict of interest, home inspectors are not allowed to perform repairs to the home or provide a quote for the cost of repairs. They’re also not allowed to speculate on the value of a home or whether or not to purchase it. However, they can provide valuable advice about the condition of the home of the seller and buyer alike.
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