Let’s continue on the road to home ownership. Last week we covered the offer and getting the home under contract. This week let’s cover what happens next.
As part of your contract for your new home you should include a home inspection.
Suppose you bought a house and later discovered, to your dismay, that the stucco exterior concealed a nasty case of dry rot. Or suppose that winter when you fired up the furnace, you discovered a cracked heat exchanger leaking gas into your home.
The best way to avoid unpleasant surprises like these is to arrange for a home inspection before you buy. A good home inspection is an objective, top-to-bottom examination of the home and everything that comes with it. The standard inspection report includes a review of the home’s heating and air-conditioning systems, its plumbing and wiring, the roof, attic, walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors, the foundation and the basement.
Getting a professional inspection is crucial for older homes because age often takes its toll on the roof and other hard-to-reach areas. Problems can also be the result of neglect or hazardous repair work, such as a past owner’s failed attempt to install lights and an outlet in a linen closet.
But a home inspection is also a wise investment when buying a new home. In fact, new homes frequently have defects, whether caused by an oversight during construction or simply human error.
Reasonable Fixes: Home inspections cost about $250 to $700, depending on the size of the house and where the home is located. Inspection fees tend to be higher in urban areas and cities than in rural areas. Real estate agents can usually recommend an experienced home inspector. Ask your agent for a list of inspectors. Your agent should be able to give you 5 or 6 to look for. Call each one and ask what they check, why are they qualified, and how much they charge. You can also find one through a friend or the Yellow Pages under “Building Inspection” or “Home Inspection.” The American Society of Home Inspectors, a professional trade group, also has a database of qualified inspectors on its Web site.
Some states, such as New Hampshire, they are licensed. Make sure you ask if they are licensed and what their license number is.
Self-Education: Education is another good reason for getting an inspection. Most buyers want to learn as much as they can about their purchase so they can protect their investment. An examination by an impartial home inspector helps this learning process. Follow the home inspector on his or her rounds. Most inspectors are glad to share their knowledge, and you’ll be able to ask plenty of questions. As part of the home inspection you will want a water test if there is a well and a radon test.
You should also check with your lender to see if they require any special inspections. Some may require a pest inspection report or a water flow report to make sure there is enough water in the well. If the property has a septic system you will also want a septic inspection. The home inspector rarely offers a septic inspection so you will need a separate inspector for that.
Next we will cover what to do after you get the inspection report!