A home inspection is a visual examination of the physical structure and systems of a home.

What is a "Home Inspection"?

A home inspection is a visual examination of the physical structure and systems of a home. If you are thinking of buying a house, townhouse or condominium, you should have it properly inspected before the final purchase by an experienced and impartial professional home inspector.

Why do I need a home inspection?

The purchase of a home is probably the largest single investment you will ever make. You should know exactly what to expect--both indoors and out--in terms of repair and maintenance and their costs. A fresh coat of paint could be hiding serious structural problems. Water marks in the basement may indicate a chronic seepage problem or may be simply the result of a single incident. With priceless training and years of experience, an inspector will interpret these and other clues, then present a professional opinion as to the condition of the property before you buy, so you can avoid unpleasant surprises afterwards.

A home inspection will of course also point out the positive aspects of a home, as well as the type of maintenance that will be necessary to keep it in good shape. After the inspection, you will have a much clearer understanding of the condition of the home that you are about to purchase, and you will be able to make your decision confidently. If you have owned your home for a period of time, a home inspection can identify problems in the making and recommend preventive measures which might avoid future repairs.

Why can't I do it myself?

Even the most experienced homeowner lacks the knowledge and expertise of a professional home inspector who has inspected thousands of homes. Qualified inspectors are familiar with the many elements of home construction, proper installation and maintenance. They understand how the home's systems and components are intended to function together, as well as how and why they fail.

Above all, most buyers find it very difficult to remain completely objective and unemotional about the house they really want, and this may affect their judgment. For the most accurate information, it is best to obtain an impartial third-party opinion by an expert in the home inspection field.

When do I request an inspector?

The best time to consult the inspector is right after you've made an offer on your new home. The real estate contract usually allows for a grace period to inspect the property. Ask your professional agent to include this inspection clause in the contract, making your purchase obligation contingent upon the findings of a professional inspection.

Can a house "fail" inspection?

No. A professional home inspection is an examination of the current condition of your prospective home. It is not an appraisal, which determines market value, or a municipal inspection, which verifies local code compliance. A home inspector will not "pass" or "fail" a house, but will accurately describe its physical condition and indicate needed repairs and/or replacement.

What if the report reveals problems?

If the inspector finds fault in a home it doesn't necessarily mean you shouldn't buy it, only that you will know in advance what type of repairs to anticipate. A seller may be willing to renegotiate the purchase price because of significant problems discovered in an inspection. If your budget is very tight, or if you don't wish to become involved in future repair work, you may decide that this is not the house for you. The choice is yours.

If the report is good, did I really need an inspection?

Definitely. Now you can complete your home purchase with peace of mind about the condition of the property and all its equipment and systems. You may also have learned a few things about your new home from the inspector's report, and will want to keep that information for future reference. Above all, you can feel assured that you are making a well-informed purchase decision and that you will be able to enjoy your new home the way you want to.

What will the inspection cost?

Fees for a typical single-family house or commercial building inspection vary geographically, as does the cost of housing. Similarly, within a geographic area the inspection fees charged by different inspection services may vary depending upon the size of the building, particular features of the building, age, type of structure, etc. However, the cost should not be a factor in the decision whether or not to have a physical inspection. You might save many times the cost of the inspection if you are able to have the seller perform repairs based on significant problems revealed by the inspector. Consult your professional agent for guidance.

Should I attend the inspection?

It is not necessary for you to be present for the inspection, but it is a good idea. By following the inspector through the inspection, observing and asking questions, you will learn about the new building and get some tips on general maintenance. This information will be of great help to you after you move in. Do I have to repair everything wrong with the house? A listing inspection report is not intended to be a "to-do" or repair list for the home. Sellers are not obligated to repair conditions noted in the report, nor are they required to produce a flawless house.

With a pre-listing home inspection, potential repair items already known by both parties are subject to any negotiations. A home seller can make repairs as a matter of choice, not obligation; to foster good will or to facilitate the sale. Sellers maintain the legal right to refuse the repair demands, except where requirements are set forth by state law, local ordinance, or the real estate purchase contract.

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