A thorough home inspection when you’re buying a house can save you thousands of dollars in unexpected repairs — or from unwittingly buying a money pit.
A home inspection is a lot like a test-driving a new car, only better. Instead of just punching the accelerator and a few dash buttons to see what they do, during a home inspection you’ll have a knowledgeable professional along with you, pointing out details and potential problems you might not notice otherwise.
What a home inspector does
A home inspector will take two to three hours or more completing a detailed walk-through of the home you’re looking to buy. It’s a top-to-bottom review of the physical structure, as well as its mechanical and electrical systems — including roof, ceilings, walls, floors, windows and doors. The inspector will check that major appliances are functional, scrutinize the heating and air-conditioning system, examine the plumbing and electrical systems and crawl up into the attic and down into the basement.
All the while, the inspector will be taking notes and pictures and, if you’re tagging along, commenting on what he sees. Most importantly, the inspector will provide an objective opinion on the home’s condition.
What a home inspector doesn’t do
Although inspectors should have a keen eye for detail, they won’t be able to detect the unseen. That means hidden pests, asbestos, and mold or other potentially hazardous substances might go unnoticed (Note that we include mold with our home inspections, unlike others). Those sort of issues can require specialized evaluations, perhaps even a geologist or structural engineer. An inspector might have a thought or two on child safety issues found in the home, but again, that depends on the inspector’s experience and competencies. And a home inspector doesn’t necessarily determine whether your home is compliant with local building codes.
The goal of the inspection is to uncover issues with the home itself. Inspectors won’t tell you if you’re getting a good deal on the home or offer an opinion on the sale price. An inspection is not a pass/fail exam. But you’ll learn much about your potential new home and gain confidence in the decision to move into your new address — or find out enough to pass on the purchase.