When you need a home inspection, you want to make sure you get a good one here in the South Alabama area. First, you need to know what a good home inspection is. Then you need to know how to find a home inspector who can, and will, give you the home inspection that serves you well. And last, you want to know how much you should pay for this quality home inspection by a good home inspector.
Seller's Home Inspection
This is a really good and important question. Many home buyers (and even agents) don't know exactly what a home inspector does. So let me clear the smoke right now.
There are basically 3 aspects to every home inspection:
1st - A home inspection is a visual, non-intrusive, & fair effort to discover the real material condition of the home during the time and day that the inspection takes place.
2nd - A home inspection isn't really about the home inspector telling you what's wrong with the home more than it is a discovery session for you to make sure you understand what you're buying so that you can decide if it falls within your expectations and is a good fit for your situation.
You see, my job is to make sure I align the reality of the home's condition with your expectations. If I can successfully do that, then I've done my job.
3rd - The home inspection report. The report is designed to summarize and convey the findings in a way that is clear, simple, complete, and easy-to-understand. If a home inspection is a snapshot in time of the condition of a home, then the report is the photo, itself (and a good report will have lots of photos). Without the report there is no real home inspection. It allows you to go back through the inspection as many times as you like in order to decide if the house is a good fit for you and your circumstances.
By nature, it's limited in scope to what can be seen, touched and tested, which particularly applies to vacant homes where a home inspector is forced to play detective and do the best they can during the short period of time they're at the home to find everything (good and bad) that you'll need to know in order to make an educated decision about the home.
If your schedule allows, you should also be encouraged to take advantage of the rare opportunity to follow a professional home inspector around your home who will invite your questions, concerns, and impart key information and advice that will certainly help you while you live in and maintain your home for years to come.
Some key points to remember about home inspections:
1. No house is perfect. Not even a brand new home. There will always be something worth noting in the report.
2. Not all home inspectors are created equal. Just like auto mechanics, some are better than others. Price should not be the most important consideration when comparing home inspection firms. Use word-of-mouth referrals, past client reviews, time in business, background, and expertise. This is especially true since you're making such a large and important investment.
3. A home inspection is an investment in the quality of your new home. View it as one. Personally, I always have a goal that the items I find in a home will at least cover the cost of the inspection when they are negotiated for repair. Of course, that doesn't always happens. Than again, sometimes my fee is tiny in comparison to what I find.
4. Old homes are like old people, the older they get the more attention they need (my sons laugh when I say that). Be sure to see older homes (50+) as they're supposed to be seen and try to avoid bringing the same set of expectations you had when you looked at that 10 year old home earlier in the day. It will not look or perform the same way. The 3 biggest concerns in every old home? The plumbing, electrical system, and foundation.
Home Inspections - A Question and Answer Guide
A thorough home inspection is a vital part of buying any home, condo, or other type of dwelling. This inspection can protect you from expensive financial costs later on, because of defects that were not noticed and that you were not aware of. A home inspector has training and an education in factors that show hidden defects, such as signs of hidden water damage or electrical problems. A home inspection is a visual inspection of all areas and components of the home, both inside and out, that are accessible to the inspector. This includes the roof, the attic, the interior and exterior walls, all the windows and doors, all systems including heating, plumbing, and electrical, and much more. A knowledgeable and experienced home inspector can provide valuable information about a home that can prevent you from making a costly mistake if conditions are too bad. Not all home problems and flaws are readily visible to the inexperienced eye, and this is where a quality and thorough home inspection can help.
There are some things that may not be covered under a home inspection, and each state and inspection firm may have rules that vary. Some inspections do not cover mold testing, air quality testing, radon testing, wood eating insect testing, water testing, and other types of testing. Some home inspection businesses will perform some of these testing services for free or a charge, while others do not. Most home inspections cover the basic visual components of the home and the operation, condition, and function of the systems. Almost all the licensed home inspection companies can have these testing services performed for you through a third party, but these tests may not be considered routine.
A home inspection, is not a pass or fail type of test, but rather a complete and detailed overview of the condition of every possible aspect of the home that can be visually inspected. The inspector will check the door and window conditions and operation, look at the foundation and any slabs, check all the systems in the home, and basically go over the home from the bottom up, both inside and out. Even gutters, eaves, flashing, and the yard should be looked at. The fees charged for a home inspection will vary, depending on several factors. The size of the home, the location and state where the home is, any additional testing that is desired or needed, the age of the home, and the home inspection service used. A normal range for this inspection can usually run between five hundred dollars and up depending upon size, age and location of the property. This may seem like a big expense, but when you consider that a complete and thorough home inspection may reveal thousands of dollars in repairs and maintenance needed it is quite reasonable.
A home inspection can usually take between two and four hours, depending on the size and complexity of the home, but this can vary. The inspector may bring a checklist for the inspection that will cover every possible aspect of any home, plus there is usually room for handwritten observations as well. The home inspection checklist can consist of many pages, and each page may deal with a specific aspect or room, such as the master bathroom, or exterior walls. Each system involved, will normally have their own section also. Once the inspection is complete you will receive a complete typewritten report from the inspector, outlining both the negative and positive aspects of the home. This can also help you determine what maintenance is needed and when it must be done. Not all parts of a home inspection are negative, and every home may have a few problems. Sometimes a homeowner may have an inspection done just to ensure there are no hidden maintenance problems with their home.
It is a good idea for you to be present during the home inspection for many reasons. First, by being present you will have a chance to ask any questions you may have about the home or certain aspects. Following the inspector during the inspection will also give you a much clearer idea of what is involved with the different systems, and will help you understand the final home inspection report a lot better. Sometimes a buyer may feel confident and think that if they do a good visual inspection it is not necessary to have a home inspector come in and do an inspection. This is a common mistake. Sure you can see bare wires hanging out of the wall, but do you know the signs of hidden mold or previous flooding damage? Most of us do not know the hidden signs of home damage and problems, and this can lead to a serious problem being overlooked, and becoming a big financial burden once you have bought the home. You should always insist on a quality professional home inspection before buying any home, to avoid making a big mistake that can cost you later on.
Finding a qualified home inspector to do the home inspection is not difficult. You can look in the yellow pages of your local phone book, or ask around for references from friends and family. Talk to a few different companies, and then choose the one that seems right for you. Ask about professional ethics, qualifications, any licensing, and experience. Check with your local better business bureau for complaints against the company or the home inspector before making a final decision on which company to use. The best time to call for a home inspector is as soon as the purchase agreement is signed. Normally a home inspection can be done within a week, but sometimes this may not be the case. Calling as soon as possible will ensure that your purchase is not held up waiting on the inspection to occur. A home inspection is the best way to protect yourself and know about the true condition of any home before you buy it. This will be one of the biggest investments you will ever make, and you owe it to yourself to make sure the investment is a good one.
Importance of Home Inspection
When you need a home inspection, you want to make sure you get a good one. First, you need to know what a good home inspection is. Then you need to know how to find a home inspector who can, and will, give you the home inspection that serves you well. And last, you want to know how much you should pay for this quality home inspection by a good home inspector.
What Is a Home Inspection?
Let's start with what a home inspection is - and isn't. A home inspection is a professional and objective evaluation of the current condition of a house. It is not the same as an appraisal which attempts to place a value on a house and which may be required by a lending institution. Nor is it the same as a building code compliance inspection which may be required by local building regulations.
Who Needs a Home Inspection?
Home inspections are typically part of the home buying process, most often performed at the request of the buyer. It can protect the buyer from unseen issues and may sometimes even be required by the buyer's bank to protect it from risky investments. In the event problems are found, a seller may be asked to effect repairs, to pay for the repairs or to renegotiate the sale price.
Sometimes the service is requested by a home seller so that problems with a house may be addressed prior to putting it on the market.
Homeowners not involved with a real estate transaction often have an inspection just as a way of learning more about their house. Home inspection, in this case, can be a valuable tool for helping to plan and budget maintenance, repairs or renovations.
What Makes a Good Home Inspector?
Not all states license home inspectors. The ones that do, generally follow guidelines enacted by the four main home inspection organizations: the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI), the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), the National Association of Home Inspectors (NAHI) and the National Academy of Building Inspection Engineers (NABIE). If your state does not currently license home inspectors, membership by your home inspector in one of these organizations is regarded as a trusted alternative.
The best home inspector is likely to have acquired considerable knowledge of common home repairs and of their costs. He may have great value for his clients as a source of general information - as one who can help them make sense of conditions the inspection has unearthed. However, objectivity demands that he not be an agent for repair contractors who might be trying to sell services.
The most valuable thing about a professional home inspection is that it is knowledgeable and unbiased.
What Is Included in a Good Home Inspection?
A quality home inspection performed according to industry accepted standards is non-invasive. An inspector will not drill holes or remove wall surfaces. He will view accessible areas of the house and will inspect:Roof
general shingle condition, flashings, gutters and downspouts, and the general structure of the roof that can be readily accessed for viewingExterior
defects in siding, flashings, brick, or other wall coverings; doors and windows for fit, locks, etc.; porches and steps for proper rails and general conditions including rot; general vegetation and surface drainage as it may affect the structure of the houseFoundation
signs of shifting - cracks, out of square door frames, etc.; signs of water penetration; improperly cut or notched framing membersHeating and Cooling
type, age, energy rating if applicable, and testing for normal operationPlumbing
determine type of supply, i. e., public or private; look for poor water pressure; look for poor drainage from sinks, tubs, etc.; inspect supplies - faucets and other fixtures; inspect toilets; inspect water heating equipment, including its type, capacity, ventingElectrical
inspection of the service drop, meter enclosure, disconnects and service panel - breakers or fuse box, verify GFCIs, smoke detectors and test representative number of switches, fixtures and outletsAttic, Ventilation and Insulation
inspect insulation in unfinished, i.e., accessible, areas; inspect ventilation of attics and mechanical ventilationInterior
inspect for loose plaster, drywall, moldings; inspect stairs and railings; test a representative number of doors and windowsMiscellaneous
garage, garage door operation, cracks in floor, viewable structure; inspect general conditions of drivewayHow Much Should It Cost and Is It Worth It?
Given the value added by the reliability and certainty of a professional quality home inspection, its cost is well worth it and a minor part of the overall cost of a real estate transaction. The cost of no knowing can be considerable - you just never know.
A home inspector will have looked at hundreds of items. The inspection report will identify problems with the home. It will describe the findings in clear and easy to understand language, often accompanied by photographs. The home inspector may visit the home with the client to point out the various findings in person.
The cost of a professional quality home inspection is usually in a range between $250-$500, and varies according to the size and the age of the house. Some inspectors offer special deals at a lower cost but it is important for the prospective client to determine if the special deal follows all industry accepted standards.
Many home inspectors also offer ancillary services that are not considered to be a part of the standard inspection. These can relate to the client's specific concerns about ensuring a safe and healthy environment for themselves and their families. These ancillary services may include tests for radon, asbestos, mold, lead and water or air quality. Another useful form of testing is thermal imaging which evaluates heat loss from the house and aids the client in minimizing heating bills. Consultation with the home inspector can help determine if these additional tests should be included.
A quality home inspection can mean great value to the client - depending on the need.
* If you are a seller, an inspection can help you market your house more effectively. You may be able to make some minor repairs which will pay off in getting a better price.
* If you are a buyer, an inspection may warn you of unnoticed and potentially costly repairs which will be needed for the house. They may be deal breakers. And if not, then having the inspector's evaluation can help you get the very best deal.
* If you're a homeowner -- neither buying nor selling at the present time, an inspection can simply help you to be sure that your home is a safe and healthy environment for you and your family. It can aid you in planning smart maintenance and repairs, renovations or refinancing.
In all cases, a quality home inspection provides way more value than cost because it can be that difference that helps you become a smarter homeowner, buyer or seller.