Home Inspections

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Why You Need a Home Inspection

Buying a home is one of the most important purchases you will make in your lifetime, so you should be sure that the home you want to buy is in good condition. A home inspection is an evaluation of a home’s condition by a trained expert. During a home inspection, a qualified inspector takes an in-depth and impartial look at the property you plan to buy. The inspector will:

  • Evaluate the physical condition: the structure, construction and mechanical systems.
  • Identify items that should be repaired or replaced.
  • Estimate the remaining useful life of the major systems (such as electrical, plumbing, heating, air conditioning), equipment, structure and finishes.

Home Inspection vs. Appraisal

Although sometimes referred to as an inspection, an appraisal is not a home inspection. An appraisal is an estimate of value, determined by an appraiser through various approaches, including a comparison of the property being valued with others that have recently sold. The appraiser's function is to estimate the value of the real estate being secured by a mortgage, or sometimes for insurance, estate settlement or other purposes. An appraiser may conduct a brief inspection of the interior and exterior of the property to determine the number of rooms and overall quality and condition of the property. Appraisers may also note, as part of their report, certain repairs that need to be made, such as painting; but an appraiser does not inspect the systems to determine they are working properly. An appraisal report also should not be relied upon as a substitute for such procedures as a termite inspection or a survey.

About Home Inspections

When you make a written offer on a home, you should insist that the contract state that the offer is contingent on a home inspection conducted by a qualified inspector. You will have to pay for the inspection yourself, but it could keep you from buying a house that will cost you far more in repairs down the road. If you are satisfied with the results of the inspection, then your offer can proceed.

Finding a Qualified Home Inspector

A man dialing a telephone.As the home buyer, it is your responsibility to carefully select a qualified inspector and pay for the inspection.

The following sources may help you find a qualified home inspector:

  • State regulatory authorities. Some states require licensing of home inspectors.
  • Professional organizations. Professional organizations may require home inspectors to pass tests and meet minimum qualifications before becoming a member.
  • Phone book yellow pages. Look under “Building Inspection Service” or “Home Inspection Service.”
  • The Internet. Search for “Building Inspection Service” or “Home Inspection Service.”
  • Your Realtor. Most real estate professionals have a list of home inspectors they recommend.

After the inspection is complete, you will receive a written report of the findings from the home inspector, usually within five to seven days.

Radon Gas Testing

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Surgeon General of the United States have recommended that all houses should be tested for radon. For more information on radon testing, call the National Radon Information Line at 1-800-SOS-Radon or 1-800-767-7236. As with a home inspection, if you decide to test for radon, you may do so before signing your contract, or you may do so after signing the contract as long as your contract states the sale of the home depends on your satisfaction with the results of the radon test.