American Residential Inspections, Inc.

   Since 1989


The Home Inspection Ė An Informational Overview

What Is It? Why Do I Need It?

    Itís all-too-easy to overlook problem areas when youíre caught up in the excitement of buying a house.  Your mind is more filled with where youíre going to put the furniture, than it is on whether or not the furnace is in good working order.  This is where a good home inspection can save you some trouble.  A trained professional inspector looks at the house with a cold, critical eye to discover existing, possibly obscured, defects or impending problems.  Many defects are not visible to the casual observer, such as a cracked foundation or worn-out plumbing.  This is why a thorough pre-purchase visual home inspection is such a good form of insurance for the buyer.


Leverage Power in Negotiations

    Without a home inspection, you have no recourse against the seller.  It is the only thing that stands between you and the seller in negotiating a fair price.  Without the home inspection, you could face hundreds or thousands of dollars in repairs that were not disclosed during the purchase process.  Ideally, the seller will offer to repair any problems so the deal will close, or at least agree to adjust the price to cover the repair costs.  This is why adding an inspection contingency clause in the contract is essential.


What Does a Home Inspection Include?

    A home inspection includes a whole house visual analysis. The inspector will look at the structure, fixtures and installed appliances. He/she will look for potential hazards and costly repairs. The inspector will often give advice to you about maintenance to reduce repairs in the future.  The inspection will take about 2 to 3 hours.  The inspector will perform a thorough visual inspection of the major systems and components of the structure, roof, interior and exterior surfaces, as well as the plumbing, heating, cooling and electrical systems.  He/she will examine the lot grading and look for water drainage issues and any signs of water damage or dampness in the basement.  The insulation and ventilation present in the attic and crawl space will also be reviewed.

    Your inspector will point out areas of concern and offer suggestions.  Always ask questions, that is what a home inspector is there for.  Although you may be most concerned with the architectural details, wall and floor coverings, modern conveniences and many other factors in your buying decision, the focus of the home inspection is on the structural/mechanical/electrical condition of the property.  The inspection is designed to give the real estate agent and buyer a concrete, unbiased way to detect readily accessible major flaws or deficiencies in the major components and systems of a home.  However, be aware that a home inspection isnít guaranteed to detect 100% of the flaws and problems that might exist in any given home - even the best inspectors are human too.


How Much Should I Expect Expect To Pay For An Inspection?

    Most home inspections cost between $250 and $500.  This is a small price to pay to find problems with your home.  According to statistics from the Federal Trade Commission, nearly 42% of homebuyers face unexpected repairs in their homes costing an average of $500 after moving in.  More than one in nine is forced to pay more than $1000 for repairs.  This puts the small fee for a home inspection into perspective.  Having a home inspection minimizes the chance for "surprises".  Generally, home inspection costs will vary depending on the size of the home, number of mechanical systems, and other items that take longer to evaluate.  The home inspection is one area that you do not want to find the cheapest service!  If you were to have a medical operation would you cut corners and try to find the cheapest doctor?  Having a so-called "affordable" or "quick" inspection  may end-up being no savings to you at all... or worse - the whole situation can leave you with hundreds or thousands of dollars in necessary or critical repairs that you were unaware of.  Many of the larger inspection companies are willing to cut corners to bring in the numbers of ďlow costĒ inspections to keep everybody busy; they are willing to play the odds on complaints.  Do not be fooled by a "great price", this will be the new "home" for either your family or your business - you don't want to cut corners by hiring a "cheap professional".


How Do I Find a Home Inspection Professional?

    Be wary of using an inspector recommended by the seller or sellerís agent.  You want someone who will be there representing you, not the seller.  It pays to look around.  As usual, you may want to start with recommendations from people who have used an inspector before.  By referral is always the best way to find the top performer in any profession.  An ideal way to locate a reputable inspection company is to ask your friends, colleagues, or relatives.  They will provide you with the best sources of inspectors.  Many times the Realtors can/will provide a short list of inspectors as suggestions.  Be advised though - some inspectors that are "too thorough" are not placed on the list either.  Referrals from a variety of sources is a great way to make the selection of your home inspector.

    Regardless of how you find an inspector, be sure to check credentials.  Some states currently require licensing for home inspectors, and others do not.  Make sure the inspectorís license is up-to-date and that the inspector is in good standing.  Look for professional certifications, which can add credibility.  Also look for membership in a professional organization like ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors) or NAHI (National Association of Home Inspectors)It is generally not a good idea to hire an inspector who also performs repairs and offers maintenance services on homes.  There is too much room for a potential conflict of interest on the part of the inspector in this situation.

Things to inquire about when hiring a Home Inspector:


Interview several candidates and ask a lot of questions... this is your future home/investment and your money!


Ask if the inspector is a current member of any national organizations. The two most recognized organizations are ASHI & NAHI.


Find out if the person is a fulltime inspector.  (not that critical depending on varying circumstances)


Ask what other home services they provide - this will help weed out the candidates with a conflict of interest.


Ask if the inspector carries errors and omissions insurance and general liabilities insurance.  Professional companies will have some type of liability insurance.  


Will concerns based on the sellers disclosure be addressed?


Ask what will be inspected and make sure it is a complete list.


Ask if an inspection agreement will be provided that defines the scope of the inspection.


How soon will the report be ready once the inspection is complete?


How much will it cost?  Prices vary from area to area, but usually range in the $250 to $500 range for typical homes.


Will the inspector provide a refund if you are not satisfied with the inspection itself, not the results?


Will the inspector recommend additional tests, such as termite, radon, etc.? And, if so, will he/she be able to recommend inspectors or arrange such tests? (this is not a conflict of interest)



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