A home inspection could be one of
the wisest investments a potential homebuyer can
make. The purchase of a home, whether a "starter-home,"
vacation cottage, or a stately mansion is likely
one of the largest investments a person will make
in his or her lifetime. In New York State, home
purchasing is to a great extent "buyer-beware."
Thus the home inspection is the buyer's best defense
against a possible costly mistake. It is also a
buyer's only way to find out the exact condition
of the house.
As a homebuyer, your focus is necessarily
on location, size, and price. A professional home
inspector is concerned with the condition of the
house and particularly with what problems are present.
The inspector takes a thorough,
in-depth look at the home and it's readily accessible
systems and components from foundation to roof,
inside and out. According to Fritz Gunther, Gunther
Home Inspections, the major areas checked are the
foundation and structure, electrical system, plumbing
system, furnace, air-conditioning unit, walls, ceilings,
floors, attic ventilation and insulation, roof and
siding. A comprehensive report is written for the
client listing all the problems and defects that
were found. At the end of the inspection a summary
is given to the client and all questions are answered.
The quality of the home inspection
depends on the experience, knowledge and ability
of the inspector. There are several ways the client
can insure quality and competence from their inspector.
First is to inquire if the inspector holds membership
in the one of the top trade associations in the
industry. For example membership in the American
Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) is difficult to
obtain. This professional trade association has
rigorous guidelines and requirements for membership
including testing, strict standards of practice
and code of ethics and continuing education. Checking
with the local Fair Business Council (FBC) will
reveal whether the company has had past problems
or complaints. The FBC typically keeps records for
about three years. Also "word of mouth" is a great
way to find out first hand if you are able to speak
to someone who has used a home inspector in the
Ask whether the inspector will
allow the client to participate in the inspection.
This will allow you, the client, to become very
familiar with the house and have a clear understanding
of any problems right away. This also allows potential
problem areas to be fully discussed as they are
found. Inquire as to whether the inspector invites
follow-up calls for further questions and consultations.
Home inspections can also be performed
for reasons other than home buying. Sometimes a
home seller will have an inspection completed prior
to putting their house on the market. This lets
the motivated seller get problems fixed beforehand,
saving time and money. Other homes, not on the market,
are inspected periodically simply to have a professional
assess the condition of the home and to make recommendations
as to repairs needed and when they should be done.
Some home inspectors are also able
to perform single-service jobs such as testing for
Radon, carbon monoxide, or lead present in a home.
Knowing that you are buying a sound
house is well worth the cost of an inspection. A
professional home inspection will educate you on
the existing condition of the house and what to
expect in the future from the house, and provide
information on how to deal with it, thus giving
you peace of mind.
For more information on home inspections,
talk with your REALTORŪ or a professional home inspector.