Buying a home probably represents the single largest investment you will ever make. Learning as much about the condition of the property you are planning to buy and the need for any major repairs before the purchase is just a smart way of protecting yourself and reducing the potential of problems in the future. Any contract or purchase offers you sign should contain an inspection clause making your purchase contingent on the findings of a professional home inspector.
Within the inspection clause the terms to which the buyer and seller are obligated should be defined. You can also add a provision to the inspection clause that allows you to withdraw when the cost of repairs exceeds a certain amount. Even though the seller may be willing to pay for the repair its sometimes more than you want to take on and your confidence in the house may no longer be the same, the added clause gives you an out while protecting your ernest money deposit.
Generally you need to contact an inspector and schedule the home inspection as soon as possible after you have a signed contract. The time allowed to conduct the inspection is usually specified within the inspection clause. You can find names of inspectors through friends, business associates, local directories and your real estate agent. The inspection is an important step and not a place to cut corners. Donít try to save money by attempting to do the inspection on your own or by using a friend or relative who isnít qualified.
Selecting an inspector should be based on professional qualifications, experience, standards of practice and ethics. I would personally recommend inspectors who are members of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). ASHI members meet high educational requirements and follow professional standards that prevent them from engaging in any conflict of interest activities that might affect their objectivity, such as using the inspection to gain repair jobs.
A qualified inspector will be able to perform an objective home inspection which is a visual examination of the physical structure and systems of a home, from the roof to the foundation. The standard inspection report will include an evaluation of the condition of the roof, heating and cooling systems (as outside temperature allows), interior plumbing and electrical systems; the attic, walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors; the foundation, basement or crawl space; visible insulation, additional visible parts of the structure like porches and decks; and other components that are visible. Most inspectors will check the built-in appliances and other appliances the sellers are conveying to you.