Buying a House? Know What a Home Inspection Really Is

There have been a lot of articles written about home inspections and all types of information on the web and yet we still see a lot of clients that don’t understand what a home inspection really is, so I am going to write one more article trying to explain what a home inspection really is and what the expectations of the client should be when they have a home inspected.

Today with all the different TV shows about remodeling and flipping houses, Home Inspections and all different types of shows about Real estate and the many different types of home, these shows are informative and entertaining but remember it takes several weeks of work and a lot of money to make a 30 minute show and you don’t get to see all of the prep work and details it takes to renovate some of these houses.

The shortest description of a home inspection that I can come up with is; A home inspection is a very intense visual inspection of the home with written documentation of the condition of the property at the time of the inspection. With that said a home inspection really is like a snap shot in time, an average home inspection for me is about three hours from the time I drive up and look at the house and then depending on the size and condition of the house it will take me another hour to do the paperwork to generate the report, and a very important note here; you should receive your report in a very timely manner, it may not be of much use to you if you are a couple of days after the terms of your contract to receive your home inspection report.

There are state standards that all home inspectors in Tennessee have to adhere to and a copy is available on the TN.gov web site. A quick scan of the standards will let you know that the list of things home inspectors are required to look at isn’t much longer than the list of things that the inspector is not required to do. Here is another important thing about the home inspection process; the home inspector is limited to the things that they can visually look at and check the operating conditions of equipment and appliances and document that they are operating as intended and document the approximate age of the equipment. Any obvious problems will be listed and documented like wet areas inside the home, plumbing leaks, HVAC units that are not working properly, bad roofs and the list goes on. Of all the things we home inspectors write up in reports safety items are the most important, they may not be the most expensive repairs but for personal safety a few dollars should not be an issue.

A home inspector is limited to what they have access to and visually see, they cannot physically damage a home by cutting holes in walls or ceilings, if water stains or wet areas are discovered the report will state what was found and usually recommend a contractor or trade professional do an in-depth evaluation of the problem and make any necessary repairs. If a home inspector finds missing flashing or some low quality work done by an untrained person and is documented in the inspection report it should be investigated farther by a contractor because there may very well be issues already starting to cause a problem and failure to make repairs will almost always turn into a bigger problem if not addressed in a timely manner.

There is nothing wrong with buying a home that is “AS IS” meaning you are happy that you are getting a good deal on a piece of property and may hire a home inspector to evaluate it to help with the “Surprise Factor” whenever you move in. Most of the time these properties are foreclosures or estate sales where the seller has never lived in the home and there is no disclosure statement. We do a lot of these types of inspections and usually they are a lot of fun to do, but they can be very challenging. There are often many things that need attention and the reports tend to have a long list. Unless you are a do-it-yourselfer and just want to tackle the job it is best to have a contractor come in and give you a bid on repairs before closing to avoid the sticker shock of major repairs.

The Walk Through before closing is one of the most overlooked parts of the process. If you are unsure about anything now is the time to speak up, problems can be addressed at this time better than after closing. During your walk through pay close attention and look for anything that may have changed, and evaluate any repairs that were to have been done. There are a lot of things that can happen to a home between the time it is inspected and the time the new buyer moves in especially weather related concerns and theft.

I encourage anyone getting a home inspection to try to be present during the inspection. It will allow you to meet the inspector and ask questions and see just how the process takes place. When hiring a home inspector be sure of the type report you are getting and when it will be delivered.

Home Inspections are a very important part of a Real Estate Transaction and buying a house can be very scary, picking the right home inspector can also be very scary. A referral from a Realtor is probably the most common way of finding a Home Inspector be sure to call and talk with the office staff or the inspector that the home inspection company sounds like you would want to do business with them. The web is also a very good place to do research but picking someone that has the best place on the web is not necessarily the best practice; shop around before you choose the person you trust to inspect your home. To get more information about our home

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The Top Six Myths About Home Inspections

If you have bought or sold a home, you might have experienced an independent home inspection. This type of home inspection is designed to provide both buyers and sellers with critical information about the health of the home’s systems – heating and cooling, electrical, plumbing, water tightness, roof condition, and safety. This type of inspection is highly detailed and provides a wealth of information on the home. While this type of inspection is not required, it can help buyers avoid a “money pit” and can help sellers understand what things might turn buyers away.

A friend wrote me recently to say that they bought a house and had expected the home inspector to look for termites. After they moved in, they decided to remodel. They discovered that termites had completely eaten the wood structure in 3 walls.

I told them that one of the things home inspectors do not do is inspect for pests, since they are not qualified to identify them. Pest control professionals are qualified to find pest infestations, and should be called in before the purchase. Most of the time your real estate agent will suggest what inspections you should be getting to protect yourself.

This got me thinking about home inspection myths. Here are the top 6 myths.

Home inspectors inspect for termites. Myth! Unfortunately for the couple above who believed this, repairs were very expensive.

You should not attend the inspection on the home you are buying, because it will disturb the inspector. Myth! Inspectors appreciate their clients attending the inspection and know they can fully communicate the issues with them. Sometimes written reports do not explain everything fully. If the clients are out of town and cannot attend the inspection, they should hold a conference call to discuss report items as soon as practical after the report is completed.

The seller is responsible for fixing everything the inspector finds wrong. Myth! Repairs, even serious ones, are negotiable. The sellers may be able to back out of a deal, however, if the inspector discovers serious defects.

New construction requires an independent home inspection to get the Certificate of Occupancy. Myth! New construction does require progressive inspections by the municipal building inspector for safety and code enforcement. If you are moving into a newly constructed home, I personally would recommend an independent home inspection also, as it will catch many loose ends.

If the home’s appraisal is excellent, there can’t be anything wrong with the home and you don’t need another inspection. Myth! A home’s appraisal is based on many factors, including market conditions, location, and materials (HardiePlank and granite countertops, for example) but does not inspect for systems actually working or structural integrity.

A home inspection will take about 30 minutes. Myth! A thorough home inspection should take from 2-5 hours depending upon the size and complexity of the home. There are hundreds of inspection points on a home inspection, including walking the roof and crawling the crawlspace.
Now that you are the home inspection expert, you can try these questions on your friends and see how they do.

Lisa is an aerospace engineer and building contractor residing in Hayesville, North Carolina. Prior to her engineering position, Lisa inspected homes for home buyers, sellers, owners, and mortgage companies.

Lisa loves flying and building aircraft. Lisa is the first woman to build and fly a Pulsar XP 2-person experimental aircraft. She built 2 aircraft and the major portion of a helicopter between 1995 and 2008.

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