The Pre-Purchase Home Inspection

When you purchase a home, it's a good idea to have a professional home inspector take a look at the place over before the transaction continues. Though it may cost a few hundred dollars, the peace of mind it can offer and the troubles it can prevent are worth it.

There are plenty of inspectors out there, so it is important to do some investigating first. Get referrals from your realtor, ask friends or family who have recently bought a home, and talk to inspectors you find yourself. Ask some questions before choosing one, including:

1. How long have they been in the home inspection business?

2. Do they specialize in residential or commercial property?

3. Do they belong to a professional organization, such as the National Association of Home Inspectors?

4. Can you be present when the inspection takes place?

5. How long does the inspection take?

Let’s pretend that you’ve chosen your home inspector. What exactly does he inspect? The report will include the following and maybe even more:

1. Quality and quantity of home insulation.

2. Condition of the home’s attic, roof, roof construction, shingles, flashing and gutters, etc.

3. Condition of its structural elements, such as beams, joists, rafters, girders, door and window frames, etc.

4. Overall construction of walls, ceilings, floors, roof and foundation.

5. Condition of the Toilets, showers, sinks, faucets, traps, pipes and plumbing systems. Identification of piping materials used for potable water, drains, waste, and vent pipes, including their overall condition.

6. Water heaters, furnaces, air conditioning, duct work, chimney, and fireplace.

7. Condition of the wiring systems, including the main electrical panel, circuit breakers, types of wiring, grounding, exhaust fans, receptacles, ceiling fans, and lighting fixtures.

8. Household appliances, such as dishwasher, range and oven, built-in microwaves, garbage disposal, smoke and carbon-monoxide detectors.

9. Evidence of any pest, moisture or mold problems.

10. The home’s exterior, such as siding, landscaping, sprinkler systems, grading, drainage, driveways, fences, sidewalks, trim, doors, windows, lights and exterior receptacles.

Afterwards, you will receive a home inspection report. These reports do not describe the condition of every component if it is in excellent shape. It will, however, note every item that is defective or needs service. The serious problems may include health and safety issues, roofs with a short life expectancy, furnace and central air troubles, foundation deficiencies, and moisture or drainage issues.

No home is perfect and nearly every home will have issues upon a home inspection, including new homes. After the inspection, you can make a more fully informed choice. Depending on what the report says, you can choose not to purchase the home, discuss repairs, or negotiate a price reduction from the seller. If you have a choice, it is best to hire your own contractors and supervise repairs yourself.

Some home buyers feel an inspection is unnecessary, especially if they are buying new construction. There are only so many aspects of a home that you can inspect yourself, however. It is the problems that aren't readily apparent, such as code violations, faulty wiring, a carbon monoxide emitting furnace, or a failing chimney which could be found in a newly constructed home. Spending some money up front can save you much more in the long-run.

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