A friend of mine's daughter was talking to me the other day. She's about to graduate high school, and is in a bit of a panic because she has no idea what she wants to do with her life. The quite brilliant young lady has always loved architecture, but doesn't want to be a realtor like her Mom is. I suggested to her that she should look into becoming a home inspector, as they are a professional which society will always need. Buildings are always being bought, sold and built, and with these (and other) stages in a building's life, an inspection is always necessary.
Often, I find people are unaware of the specifics when it comes to home inspections. From questions about the cost to its importance to the process involved, the art of the home inspection is one whose secrets haven't made their way into mainstream society. This blog post will attempt to educate you a bit on what home inspectors do, so if you ever need to hire one, you've got a leg up for the transaction. Which will be a nice thing to have, as home inspections affect both home buyers and sellers.
Over twenty-one years ago, when I was getting into the real estate business, I initially got confused about the difference between a home inspection and a home appraisal. I mean, they'd have to inspect your home to appraise it, right? But where a home appraiser mainly looks at your home's value, a home inspector merely just sums up what is wrong with a property. They make note of what works, what doesn't, and how long they estimate everything, from structure to systems, to survive. Interestingly enough, a home inspector has no care what building code itself, and is concerned purely with stability and safety.
If I were to list everything that is covered by a home inspection, we'd be here for hours. The structure itself, the basement, framing, central heating and cooling, chimney, plumbing, electric, drainage, bathrooms, laundry room, foundation, fireplace, your entire kitchen and all the appliances in it, your attic, insulation, ventilation, roof and even your lawn are all inspected, but that really only scratches the surface of what a home inspector has to look out for. It may seem odd, but a home inspector can only report on damage and defects that he can see. Damage underneath a carpet, or behind a painting, aren't necessarily things the homeowner has to disclose. This can lead to some shady dealings sometimes unfortunately. Situations like these can be worsened by the fact that if a system is in its off season, like air conditioning in the winter, most likely will not be inspected.
Always check with your friends, family and even your realtor on recommendations for a good home inspector. If this turns up nothing, turn to Google, or the yellow pages for those who like to keep it old school. When making your selection for a home inspector, find one who can offer up strong references, and preferably one who is a member of local and/or national professional associations within their field. Quiz them about how long they've been in the business and where they went to school to ensure you are hiring the best possible inspector.
I always recommend being on site with the inspector during a home inspection. This way, you can see firsthand what the inspector is talking about in terms of damage and problems with the property, plus you can ask questions as well. Not only can you learn about the property you are buying or selling, but if you pay attention, you will learn a lot about home maintenance as well. Home inspectors are incredibly knowledgeable individuals so any opportunity you have to delve into the brain of one, jump on.
The home inspection report is not a list of repairs, improvements, maintenance or replacements the seller must partake in. Nay, it is more of a negotiating tool for the buyer, to barter down to a price more appealing to their bank account. On the flip side of things, if a seller takes care of any problems reported by a home inspector, they can justify a higher price for their property. Let it be known it is highly unethical and a conflict of interest for a home inspector to try and sell his services as a home repairman for anything mentioned in his report. If your home inspector tries to do this, cancel all business dealings with them immediately.
Home inspections will usually run you a few hundred bucks, usually five or six hundred max. They may take some time, especially if the home in question is larger and/or older. Obviously, newer and smaller houses take less time to go over, but regardless of the size and age of your home, let your home inspector take his time. The more accurate the report, the better off everyone involved in this transaction will be.
At the end of the day, a home inspection is a huge opportunity. You get a chance to have an expert thoroughly eyeball a property, and you can pick their brain while they do it. As someone who loves real estate, home improvement and learning in general, it always is a highlight of my day when I get to meet with a home inspector.