Buying a home is the biggest purchase you’ll make in your lifetime. Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or looking to buy your next place, there are many benefits of hiring a professional home inspector.
Walking through a home, you may notice a few things you want to fix or rooms you want to paint. The home inspector will assess important HVAC, plumbing, and electrical systems. Inspectors notice structural or insulation problems that you and your real estate agent probably missed. The inspector outlines all their findings in a report and walks you through the property to explain major issues.
If you decide to go through with the purchase, the home inspection report offers a roadmap for repairs you may need. The inspection report is also great leverage for contract negotiations with the seller. If there’s a major repair on the report, you can ask the seller to cover it or come down on the sale price.
Of course, the main benefit of hiring a home inspector is that they’ll help you avoid buying a home that needs more work than you’re willing to pay. As long as your offer is contingent on the home inspection, you’ll be able to walk away with your down payment and find the property that works best for your family and your budget.
Before you hire a home inspector, make sure they’re certified. Not all home inspectors are members of the American Society of Home Inspectors, so check that yours is. Members of AHSI adhere to a standard of ethics, continue their education, and have access to more resources.
Check to make sure your home inspector is insured. Home inspectors usually carry professional liability (aka errors and omissions) insurance and general liability to cover things like property damage claims.
As part of the home buying process, your local home inspector will have a certain number of days to examine the property. Then, you’ll walk through the house together so the inspector can point out any problems they may have found. In the end, the inspector will give you a report detailing everything you need to know.
When choosing an inspector, ask for previous inspection reports to see how thorough they are. Good reports are thorough and include photos. Reading reviews gives you a better idea of what to expect from the home inspector. If you’re choosing between a full-time inspector and a part-time one, hire the full-time inspector – they’ll have booked more hours and experience.
Of course, if you already have a good rapport with your real estate agent, ask who they would recommend. Real estate agents often deal with home inspectors, so they’ll know the best option for you in your area.
You’ve bought your dream home and noticed some water damage in the basement a month later. You hire a contractor to assess it, and they say this isn’t the first time the basement has seen water damage – the foundation wall is bowing from it. This issue should have been on the inspection report. Is the inspector liable?
They can be. That question is why it’s best to hire an inspector who carries errors and omissions insurance, as well as general liability insurance. The inspector will have to file a claim to cover the repairs, but they will be more likely to cover those costs.
As with any legal action, there’s no guarantee you’ll get your money back. Pursuing legal action against an uninsured home inspector will become an even bigger headache, and they may not have the funds available to cover the repairs you need.
You also have to prove that nothing happened to alter the home's condition after you completed the inspection report. For instance, if there aren’t any issues with the roof at the time of inspection, and you notice leaks a few months after a big storm, the home inspector would not be liable.
The cost of a home inspection depends on a few factors, including the location and size of the property. Generally, you should expect to pay a couple hundred dollars for one home inspection. A few things about local home inspectors could increase that price:
In some real estate markets, the seller may pay for an inspection ahead of time. Ask your real estate agent if they trust the company that performed the pre-inspection. This awareness can help you decide whether or not to invest in another inspection.
If you’re selling a home in a competitive market, investing in a pre-sale home inspection may be a good idea. As a seller, some pros include the following:
While it may seem beneficial to have a pre-sale inspection before you put your home on the market, there can also be downsides. Here are a few cons that impact homebuyers and sellers alike: