When you are walking through a potential home and you notice that the bathroom faucet is dripping or a light fixture is cracked, should you be worried? Just like any other major purchase, a home requires lots of routine maintenance. While it is not a certainty, small problems might be an indicator of neglect and can possibly be masking major issues. How can you know for certain? Hire a home inspector.
The home inspector’s job is to thoroughly examine a home’s exterior, interior, roof, foundation, plumbing, electrical, HVAC systems, and possibly insulation and ventilation. The home inspector can catch problems such as mould, termites, and water damage. A good home inspector should take the time to explain to you potential problems and help you access the severity of the situation so it’s a good idea to ask to be present for the inspection.
As with any testing, it is important to get a qualified inspector to perform the inspection. Make sure you get a list from them of the items they will be examining as well as a past assessment that they have done. The National Association of Home Inspectors is a good starting point for finding an inspector. Your real estate agent can also recommend one, but just beware that they may be more interested in helping the agent make a sale than in helping you find problems in the house.
The home inspection is really not that costly when you consider the possible problems and expense that might become evident after you purchase a house. Wouldn’t it be nice to know if your basement was filled with termites before you moved in? Or if the inspector gives you a good report, to have the happy serenity of knowing you are making a good purchase in the house you chose.
One excellent question to ask your home inspector is how old the appliances in the house are and how much longer they will likely last. HVAC units, septic fields, or well-pumps are expensive pieces of equipment that if you needed to replace should be budgeted for or negotiated into the cost of the house.
Hiring a home inspector is much like purchasing insurance on an expensive package you are mailing. It is a small amount of money spent to protect a larger amount of money. Buying a home is a huge commitment. Any reassurance you can get beforehand that this commitment is a good one is definitely worth it.