Home Inspections: One of the best investments you can make... by Kathy Scott
Whether you're purchasing a new or existing home, consider the benefits of a home inspection performed by a certified or licensed inspector. The purchase of a home is the biggest investment people make. It not only involves acquiring a significant asset, it may also mean taking on additional problems as well. While home inspectors are limited in their scope, they can offer peace of mind to a new homeowner by assessing some of a home's major componenets.
Only 27 states require that a home inspector be certified, licensed or registered with the secretary of state. Fortunately, the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) is a national organization that requires its members to pass various tests and submit proof of at least 250 fee-paid home inspections before being admitted. No other home inspection organization requires such experience as a condition of membership, which makes it a great resource for borrowers looking for a good inspector.
Even new homes need an objective look. Don't rely on your builder or a county inspector for a neutral review. Use a separate and new set of eyes to examine your home. A private standard home inspection typically costs less than $500 and could save you thousands.
Try to hire a home inspector who is a member of ASHI. Ask for a list of features in and around the home that will be inspected. The most common areas examined include the structure, exterior, roof, plumbing, electrical, heating, air conditioning, interior, ventilation and fireplace.
Your home structure sits on a foundation that, if cracked or sinking, could mean big repairs in the future. Inspectors are trained to look for signs of problems. They will review the exterior - siding, flashing, trim, doors, decks, balconies and porches, as well as examine the vegetation, surface grading, drainage and retaining walls that may adversely affect the structure.
Most mortgage companies require a roof inspection if the home is over 10 years old. Your home inspector should also take a look at the roof covering, drainage systems, skylights, chimneys and flashing in order to assure that it is properly constructed to protect the home.
A visual inspection of a home's plumbing can heed a great deal of information. For instance, most inspectors review the interior water supply, drainage, waste and distribution systems including all fixtures and faucets to insure they are working properly. Water heating equipment, plumbing vents, fuel storage and distribution systems are all included in the inspection as well as pumps if applicable.
An inspection of the electrical system throughout the home including service drops, conductors, cables, equipment, grounding and main disconnects could be vital. A home inspector should also be able to insure there are a representative number of lighting fixtures, switches, receptacles and ground fault circuit interrupters. Your home's heating and cooling system, including any fireplaces, will be inspected to insure each is working properly.
A home inspection's final report should offer a summary of the home from roof to foundation with major repair suggestions and a list of potential areas that may need attention in the future. The summary should also identify problems and offer suggestions for possible preventive measures. Since many new homes offer a one-year warranty, consider getting a second inspection with a different inspector prior to the end of the term to assess any issues that may have developed and could be covered under the warranty.