In my opinion residential home inspections can really help a person in the purchase of a new home. A home inspection can give you some insight into any current or future questions or problems that this new property my have. For a the relatively small cost of having a home inspection it could save you from buying a money pit.
The only problem with home inspections is that they can only pick up on the things they can see and not the hidden or covered up problems that may hide beneath a wall or floor, but lets face it nobody is going to let you come into their home and let you start cutting holes in floors and walls to have a look at hidden things like mold, plumbing, electrical, insulation, structural act. The only other problem is that home inspectors are human and they do miss the odd thing or do not interpret what they do see correctly, their report is their opinion based on the pros or cons of what they can see in that particular home. Remember every house will have some issues, you will have to decide from the information that the home inspection gives you whether the home you are looking at will suit your needs and not suck up your life savings to fix.
I would recommend a few things that will make the home inspectors job and your decision easier. First of all be present during the inspection and ask questions! Follow this person around the property, see what they see. After all when buying a home most people do not spend enough time in it before they buy, in my estimate a lot of people buy a home after being in it less than 30 minutes. Second, prepare a list of questions on areas that you are concerned about like the furnace, crawl space, cracked basement foundation, or any other area that you noticed and did not have a answer for. No question is too stupid, what do you have to lose? Remember this may be the biggest investment you may make in your life!
Now that the inspection is complete and you have the report in your hands it is time to make sense of it. Most reports are multiple pages and will not only highlight problems but also point out strong points as well. Some will even give suggestions on possible remedies to problems or urgency level of things that should be addressed if you are to buy this property. You now need to make sense of all this information. I have include a home inspection checklist that you can print out and use to help summarize and get all the info from the report onto one page and make it easier to look through.
At this point in a house transaction you have likely already made an “offer to purchase” the home subject to the home inspection. So now you have a decision to make – #1 purchase the home the way the offer was made, #2 change your offer based on the cost of the repairs that my be needed and highlighted in the inspection report, #3 pull your offer from the table all together and start looking at different homes on the market.
To summarize, I recommend you make a home inspection part of your “offer to purchase” any property. And I recommend that you are present during the inspection. Also do not be surprised that your dream home may have multiple problems that the home inspection brings to light, all homes have problems, most can be fixed. You just need to make your offer on the property based on as much insight as you can.
Use this handy home inspection checklist to summarize the main points from the home inspection report provided to you by the home inspector. This helps you put everything on one easy to read sheet. The form is in PDF format, so you’ll need a reader such as foxit reader to open the document.