“While the inspection can be a formality, it’s a chance to have your home inspected by an expert so you can go into an expensive purchase with your eyes wide open,” says Kerry Sherin, consumer advocate at Ownerly, a home appraisal company. “You’re investing a few hundred dollars to potentially save thousands.” Here are some answers to common questions about what to expect from a home inspection.
Who does the examiner work for? You. Unlike real estate agents, “we have no vested interest in the property. Whether you buy it or not doesn’t matter. I’m being paid a fee,” says Eric Mohlenhoff, owner of Remedy Inspections in Rockaway, NJ. Although most home inspections are intended for buyers, pre-listing (or seller) inspections are also an option so sellers can make the necessary repairs before listing their home.
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How much does it cost? The fee depends on where you live, the size and age of your home, and the services included. Expect to pay an average of about $500 for a basic inspection, which increases to about $800 when you add mold, termite, and radon testing. high-tech services such as B. Thermal imaging to detect water ingress can also incur additional costs. Ownerly has a searchable database of inspection costs for around 950 cities.
Should I be guided by the price? You shouldn’t be looking for the cheapest home inspector. Someone who charges next to nothing is probably doing it for a reason: They’re either inexperienced or have business problems, says Sherin. Rather than shop for the lowest price, compare the qualifications and services offered by multiple inspectors to see where you’re getting the best bang for your buck.
How do I find an examiner? Ask friends or family if they’ve used one in the same area. Associations such as the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) or the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) also have online databases. You can always ask your real estate agent for a recommendation, but remember that making a sale is their job, says Sherin. “In the worst case scenario, a home inspector who is a friend of your agent could give a home the all-clear to go through with the deal, despite problems. Bringing your own vetted home inspector to the table can help ensure objectivity.”
What questions should I ask before hiring? How long have you been in business? How many houses have you inspected? Are you licensed? Are you certified? Some states, like Pennsylvania, do not require a state license; Instead, inspectors must be members of a non-profit home inspectors association. The certification standards for InterNACHI or ASHI are high. An InterNACHI master inspector, for example, must complete 1,000 fee-based inspections and/or training and further education hours together. Other states, like Florida, require a training course and exam. Home inspectors in Florida must complete 120 hours of training and pass an exam with a score of at least 80 percent to be licensed, says Benjamin Martin, an inspector and president of Florida Certified Home Inspections in Seminole, Fla.
How do I know they’re a good fit? The way an inspector treats you before you hire them is a good indicator of how they will treat you once you are hired. Do they call you back and answer questions promptly? Make sure the inspector gives you a list of what he’s going to inspect, says Martin. A good customer will call you ahead of time to review any concerns identified during your buyer’s tour. “It can be nothing, or it can be serious,” he says.
What technology are they using? Gone are the days of paper and pen. Many inspectors use a drone to look at roofs, thermal imaging cameras to “see” inside walls, and molding machines, says Martin, who takes about 400 to 600 images per inspection. The pros typically enter everything into a tablet — checklists, photos of defects, notes, and sometimes even the serial number, make and model of appliances and HVAC equipment — to create a report.
What is controlled? An inspector will typically examine structural elements (foundation, frames, drainage systems), roofs, exterior surfaces, property (driveway, fences, sidewalks), the attic, interior plumbing, the electrical system, appliances, heating and cooling systems, the basement, garage, insulation, and Ventilation and security systems (fire and carbon monoxide detectors). “I can even tell if a dip in the front yard is a tripping hazard,” says Martin, who carries out an average of nine inspections a week.
Are there any restrictions? They can only inspect what they see and what is accessible. “I do not move furniture or touch personal property. If a house is crammed full of stuff, there will be a note on my report saying I couldn’t inspect “due to personal debris,” says Martin. They do not typically inspect swimming pools (which require a different certification), sheds or outbuildings. And while inspection can detect structural damage caused by pests like termites, it will not detect active infestations by insects, rodents, or other pests.
Is there an end product? A home inspection can take anywhere from two to four hours, depending on the size and age of your property. Upon completion, you will receive a full report. Mohlenhoffs are typically 60 to 80 pages long, with pictures and accompanying text. Ask your inspector how long the report will take; It may take two to three days although some arrive within 12 hours.
If they make mistakes, do I have recourse? The inspectors are only liable for defects that they could identify at the time of the inspection. So if your roof gets a thumbs up and starts leaking two weeks after moving in, you may have a case as long as there hasn’t been a damaging hail or storm in the meantime. But when you pull up old carpet and discover rotten flooring, you probably aren’t. And you must provide strong evidence to support your claim. According to Martin, inspectors should have general liability insurance for at least $1 million in the event they are found guilty.
Is it worth? “A certified inspector’s fee can cost less than the repairs that can be negotiated between a buyer and seller after a home inspection report,” says Sherin. “If the seller ends up paying for the repairs, hiring a certified inspector won’t cost you any money; it makes you money.”
Denver-based author Laura Daily specializes in consumer protection and travel strategies. Find them under dailywriter.net.