By Joe Mishak, Aardvark Home Inspectors, Inc.
Fireplace? Check. Wood floors? Check. Finished basement? Yep. You’ve been searching for a
while, and now you think you’ve found your dream home. But how can you be sure there aren’t
hidden problems with the property that will require expensive repairs or upgrades after the
keys have been handed over to you? A home inspection by a qualified inspector can reveal
major issues with the property that you’ll want to know about before signing the contract.
Why is it important to have an inspection done before purchasing or selling a home? The same
reason you’d take a used car to a mechanic before buying it — to make sure you are getting a
good deal. Buying a home is a huge investment. It makes sense to know as much as you can
about what you are getting. Although most of us know how to live in a house, we aren’t experts
on how the mechanical systems of a home work. That’s why you call in an expert. Inspections
by professionals may reveal issues that are hidden from “untrained eyes.” Most buyers want to
know there are no major issues prior to closing.
What sort of things should be on the inspection checklist?
HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning), roof, electrical, plumbing (and) foundation are
fairly standard. Mold and radon inspections are becoming more common. Any system or
structure that the buyer has concerns about should be checked out prior to closing. You can get
individual systems inspected — like the electrical system, the roof or the furnace — or you can
get a whole house inspection where the inspector will go from the roof to the basement or
crawlspace and look at everything in-between. A sewer camera inspection is recommended
also. It can be costly and messy to find out after closing that there is a problem.
Who should conduct the inspection, and why?
Choose a reputable home inspector who is a member of a home inspection association that has
standards and a code of ethics. You want an inspector who is thorough and trustworthy, especially in the event there are issues that trigger more negotiations. Professionals versus “my
cousin who remodeled a home” are preferred. Not to say that your cousin isn’t knowledgeable,
but he/she may not be well-versed in all facets of uniform building codes.
Who pays for the inspection?
A seller may want to do a pre-listing inspection — usually a whole house and sewer. This way
sellers can identify and repair any big issues before pricing and putting their home on the
market. In this case, the seller pays. Most REALTOR® association contract forms require the
buyer to pay for the inspections the buyer wants, but the matter is subject to negotiation.
What are some other things people should know about home inspections?
While most home inspectors are trained professionals, they are not perfect. Inspections are not
invasive. For example, if access to a crawl space is blocked or furniture is placed over a hole in
the floor, the inspectors are not responsible for moving these items. At the end of the day,
most inspectors are reputable and bring value to the transaction process.
Inspections are not appraisals. Your lender will require an appraisal to get the value of the
home. An appraisal will not identify defects like an inspection will. An inspection is not a
guarantee, nor is it a warranty. It is a snapshot of the condition of the home at that time.
Inspections likely will disclose problems. No matter how new or well-maintained a home is,
there will be issues. The random reversed electrical outlet or loose tile — and those are
important to find — but the real purpose is to identify potentially costly repairs that the
average person probably wouldn’t be aware of, so don’t get freaked out if there is a big list of
little things. Concentrate on the big-ticket things.
You can find a list of our home inspectors and REALTOR® members at www.bcaar.com by
clicking on the yellow button, “Find a Member.” Our website also includes resources for
buyers/sellers, membership information, community resources and much more! For more
information about this article or BCAAR, please visit our website, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
or call 269.962.5193.