The process of buying a home is full of highs and lows. It can be both exhilarating and highly stressful all at the same time. Once you’ve finally settled on the home and have an accepted purchase offer, your next hurdle is the home inspection.
You may be tempted to waive your home inspection, however, this is not a good idea. There are many advantages to order in a home inspection prior to closing.
Let’s look at 21 reasons why you should have a home inspection.
Problems You Can’t See
It’s easy to fall in love with a potential new home. You think you found the perfect property, one that fits all your family‘s needs. It has everything you’ve been looking for, a great kitchen, spacious living areas, and multiple bathrooms. The home may appear to be in great shape.
You need someone with a trained eye to inspect the home for structural problems, health and safety issues, problems with the roof, mechanical problems, and electrical or plumbing issues.
Having a home inspector that will walk on the roof, go into the crawlspace, and climb in the attic can protect you against problems that aren’t always visible.
Don’t let a facade fool you. Take the time to have a certified inspector look deeper to be sure you’re making a sound investment.
Save You Money
The typical home inspection fee average is about $350. However, if a home inspection notates needed repairs or potential problems with the home it could save you thousands of dollars.
Often times after the home inspection, you’re really into negotiations with the seller to address needed repairs. This often leads to a price reduction or a repair credit allowing you to fix the items listed in the home inspection report.
I’ve been inspecting homes since 2002 and on average a $350 home inspection can discover between $3000-$5000 worth of needed repairs. While this is not always the case, even one repair can help pay for itself.
Provide You an Exit Opportunity
A purchase offer is a binding real estate contract. It states that you agreed to pay the seller the agreed-upon price for the home. Most (but not all) purchase agreements are made “contingent on a home inspection”.
When you make a purchase offer your real estate agent should make your offer contingent on a home inspection. This contingency period will allow you typically 7-10 days to have a home inspection completed as part of your due diligence.
If you waive your home inspection you are in essence accepting the home “as is” including any underlying problems it may have.
The home inspection allows you the opportunity to collect as many facts as possible about the home and reconsider your position to purchase the home based on those findings. If you don’t like what you find out, you can exit the contract and often times get a refund of your earnest money.
Turn Negotiations in Your Favor
Having a home inspection performed could give you the power to negotiate a lower sales price. The major issues discovered during the home inspection can give you the bargaining power to get a lower sales price.
This can be particularly helpful if your budget is tight but you really like the house and need a little room to maneuver. If negotiations haven’t gone well thus far and the seller has been firm on price, having a home inspection could be the leverage you need to get the price you really wanted.
Typically, if major things are found in a home inspection that needs to be addressed the seller will offer to make repairs, provide a repair credit, or an outright price reduction.
Protection from the Money Pit
No one likes to be stuck with a lemon and a home with major problems can turn into a real money pit. After you’ve moved into a home is not the time to find out that there are major foundational, roofing, electrical or plumbing issues.
Major problems with the foundation, electrical, plumbing, or roof can cost you tens of thousands of dollars to repair and months of dealing with contractors and living in a home while it’s being renovated.
Having a certified inspector provide a thorough examination of the home before you sign on the dotted line can help you avoid buying the money pit.
Avoid Costly Structural Problems
Nothing can ruin a new home purchase like finding out after-the-fact that the home has structural problems. Foundation issues are major red flags that can be avoided by having a thorough home inspection done prior to purchase.
And new home construction is not exempt from having structural problems many new homes are built on land developments that were deforested or prior wetlands which can cause sinkholes and other settlement issues.
Structural problems are often not easy you unless you know the signs to look for. I have seen many houses that were advertised as renovated only to find out that structural problems or improper repairs we’re done in the crawlspace.
One example a few years back, I inspected a house where the interior had been completely renovated with an all-new kitchen, bathrooms, carpeting, paint, and many other amenities. Inside the house looked great but a nasty secret existed in the crawlspace. There were ventilation problems that caused significant wood rot behind the front porch which resulted in over $25,000 in structural repair work.
Roofing Age & Leaks
A new roof is one of the costliest building components to replace on a house. A new roof can cost in excess of $10,000 for even an average-size home. Larger homes with complicated roof designs can cost up to $25,000 or more to replace.
A home inspection is a great way to find out information about the roof on the house you’re looking to buy. A thorough home inspection can tell you approximately how old the roof is and maybe more importantly how much longer the roof my last.
Electrical systems in the home are often very deceiving. Just because the light functions properly doesn’t necessarily mean the electrical system is in good working order. The fact is, even the smallest electrical defects can cause a devastating fire.
If you are buying an older home, having a home inspection to examine the electrical system is important. As home inspectors will probably see more electrical defects than in all other categories combined.
Many people don’t realize that even your electrical system has a life expectancy. Electrical systems and components have various life spans from as little as 5 years to as many as 70 years. Items like GFCI and AFC breakers and outlets can last as little as five years. Electrical panels and wiring on can last 60 to 70 years.
To upgrade the electrical system in the house including re-wiring electrical panels outlets you can expect to pay upwards $15,000 for even a small home. Larger homes can cost upwards of $30,000 or more.
Plumbing problems can exist in both new homes and older homes. A leak in a plumbing pipe can cause structural problems and cost thousands of dollars to replace.
Some of the problems the plumbing systems include defective piping such as ABS waste piping or polybutylene supply piping, old piping like cast iron or galvanized supply pipes, or leaks supply and waste piping,
Mechanical problems can exist in any home regardless of age. I’ve witnessed mechanical problems in newly constructed homes from improper or faulty installations to condensation refrigerant lines resulting in water damage and mold growth.
Many mechanical systems such as heating and cooling units do not get the recommended annual maintenance they should. Dirty heating and cooling systems tend to run longer and wear out quicker than those that have been well-maintained.
Problems with mechanical systems can cost anywhere from hundreds of dollars to repair up to as much as $10,000 or more for a complete system replacement.
Pest and Insect Infestations
Pest and insect infestations such as beetles, bees, carpenter ants, and subterranean termites can wreak havoc only a house’s wood-frame structure.
The problem is, much of this damage it’s not visible to the untrained eye. Termites feed on wood materials in crawlspaces, attics and inside wall cavities.
While not always the case, the presence of termites generally accompanies another long-term problem like wet crawlspaces, perimeter drainage problems or poor ventilation.
Avoid Potential Health Issues
Potential health issues can arise in both new construction homes as well as 100-year-old homes. Potential health issues include radon gas, mold growth, asbestos, and lead-based paint.
Depending on the severity of the case, these potential health issues can lead to respiratory problems, debilitating illnesses and in some rare cases even death.
The presence of safety issues can range from an uneven payment and missing handrails on steps to environmental and electrical issues which could be very dangerous.
This is especially true for rural properties. Many of these areas or outside of the jurisdiction of building code enforcement officers or were done without proper building permits.
Often times as home inspectors we find these additions have multiple problems including improper foundation support, non-standard framing methods, improper electrical work, etc.
Prioritize Home Repairs
Having a home inspection allows you the opportunity to prioritize repairs needed based on the advice of an unbiased trained professional.
A home inspection will help you identify areas of importance you may have not seen or considered based on safety and building integrity.
For example, a home inspector can help you identify which systems in the house will most likely need replacement in the near future allowing you to prioritize and identify your repairs based on age and condition of major components or systems like water heaters, roofing, or electrical.
You are not a Home Inspector
This statement is not met to undermine your intelligence. However, you’re not a professional home inspector and sellers will likely not negotiate repairs with you without an independent home inspector’s professional report.
A professional home inspector can examine the property without emotional attachment. This allows them to form a professional opinion based on the observations and their years of experience.
It’s important to be sure the home inspector you’re hiring has the proper training, certifications, and licensing (in licensing states).
A home inspector can help you to identify what maintenance items have been neglected. This can help you form an estimated cost to get the home maintenance back on track.
A home inspector can help you identify maintenance items such as HVAC service, gutter cleaning, exterior painting, water heater maintenance, etc. that are needed right away.
Educate Yourself About the Home
Having a home inspection is an opportunity to educate yourself on the home you’re looking to purchase. If you attend the home inspection, most home inspectors will be happy to take the time and show you where things are located and discuss their findings with you.
The inspection can help you to identify the age and condition of mechanical devices, the location of fuel shut off valves, the location of water shut off valves, the condition of the roofing materials, the electrical disconnects and breaker panels, where to go to change your air filters, etc.
Also since most sellers are not present for the home inspection and the average inspection time is 2-3 hours, you get access to the property to fully examine the grounds, house, outbuildings, etc while the home inspector is providing their service.
Plan For Future Repairs
Many people when buying a house have plans to do renovations and other repairs. Having a home inspection can help you to plan for those future repairs.
Having a home inspection can help you gather the information needed, such as where water lines are located, are electrical updates needed, will the existing heating and cooling system be sufficient, etc.
When purchasing a home you will have to purchase a new homeowner’s insurance policy. If your home is over a certain age, your insurance agent would likely require a four-point inspection.
The four-point inspection gathers information on the condition of the roof, any electrical updates, any plumbing updates, and any mechanical updates. Sets home inspectors gather this information during their inspection, many home inspectors, for a fee, will complete this paperwork to turn into your insurance company.
This information is used by the underwriter at the insurance company to help underwrite your insurance policy and determine your insurance premium.
Peace of Mind
Lastly, and probably most importantly, a home inspection can help give you peace of mind that you’ve made a good buying decision. A good thorough home inspection as part of your buyer’s due diligence is just the all-around good decision.
Despite what some people may think, home inspectors do not take pleasure and delivering bad news to potential homebuyers. We understand that this is an important decision for you and your family. Sometimes we do have to deliver potentially bad news which may change your mind about purchasing a property.
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