The Importance of an Unbiased Home Inspection
Is this the year you stop renting and buy your very first home, or have you outgrown your current home and are looking for an upgrade? If you’re in the market for some new digs, spring and summer are the busiest seasons for home sales, and home inspectors are working hard to keep up with the demand.
Yet, for all the value they can bring to the home buying process, home inspectors aren’t always beloved. From the seller’s perspective, the home inspector may be the one to discover major, expensive problems that must be fixed to make a home ready for sale. And from a buyer’s viewpoint, the inspector could uncover equally bad news about what might have seemed a dream home. But in either case, an honest and thorough home inspector offers something invaluable: the unvarnished truth.
Understand the Fundamentals
There’s a lot that can go wrong with a home over the years. Plumbing pipes can corrode, electrical systems can go haywire, and HVAC units can age prematurely due to insufficient maintenance. When you’re looking to buy a new home, your home inspector is often the only person who can help you identify these problems before you sign on the dotted line.
To make sure you’re getting the most out of your home inspection, follow these basic guidelines:
- Don’t automatically choose the home inspector recommended by your real estate agent. It’s common for agents to make this recommendation, but they also have a financial stake in every sale going as smoothly as possible. If you do your own research and choose your own inspector, you may have a better chance of catching major issues.
- Carefully vet your home inspection candidates before choosing. Read online reviews, inquire about experience, and check for membership in organizations like the American Society of Home Inspectors or the National Association of Home Inspectors.
- Find out what kind of insurance your home inspector carries. Many inspectors have “errors and omissions” coverage that can give you extra protection if they miss a significant problem.
- Stick around while your home inspector checks out any home you’re thinking about buying. After the thorough inspection, have the inspector lead you on a tour to point out any areas of concern. Be sure to take notes!
- If the inspector finds problematic areas, but you’re still interested in buying the home, consider hiring another specialist for a more targeted inspection. For instance, you might hire a plumber if the home inspector finds an issue with the home’s pipes, or you could consult an HVAC technician if there are problems with the air conditioning system.
- The more evidence, the better. Make sure your inspector documents the entire inspection process, ideally with supporting photographs. When the inspection is complete, get all the results and estimates in writing.
When in doubt about any home inspection findings, don’t hesitate to call in a knowledgeable plumber, electrician, or HVAC technician to take a closer look at the systems that make homes comfortable and livable.