Buying or selling a home, particularly for first-timers, can be an eye-opening experience. If you’re shopping around for your dream house—arguably, the most fun part of the home buying process—you’re going to tour homes in great condition, lousy condition, and everywhere in between. You’re going to learn a lot about mortgages, from conventional private loans to special government-backed mortgages like FHA, USDA, and VA loans. Your knowledge base will expand to include different types of construction and insurance, too.
Nearly every home purchase and sale involves one critically important step: a home inspection. ASHI is dedicated to ensuring that home inspections are performed to the highest standard by highly qualified, licensed inspectors. Home inspections protect nearly everyone who touches the home buying process: buyers and sellers, mortgage lenders, and realtors alike. A thorough home inspection puts everyone on the same page and helps all parties complete a home sale/purchase with full knowledge of what they’re getting into. Different mortgages and mortgage lenders may have different home inspection regulations. For example, VA loans require a hybrid appraisal/inspection that may not be as detailed as other forms of inspection. The inspection portion of the process focused on general issues of habitability and safety, but may not clue buyers in to all of the issues a home presents. That’s why it pays to have the most thorough and professional inspection you can get on any home you’re considering for purchase.
What’s the Value of a Home Inspection?
Homebuyers can tell quite a bit about a home just by walking through it, of course. You can guess the age of kitchen appliances. Perhaps you’ll notice peeling paint or signs of a leaky basement. You can find out if the home is adequately protected by a home security system. All of these factors help you decide whether a home is worth the asking price. But problems such as these are relatively minor when compared to issues that may be invisible to the average naked eye. Qualified home inspectors, however, aren’t average. Their vision of a home is more precise and accurate. A thorough inspection offers greater insight—the kind of knowledge you need before deciding whether a home is affordable and otherwise right for you.
What Does a Professional Home Inspection Entail?
A home inspection puts a property under a microscope—sometimes even literally. It starts outdoors and peers as deep inside a home as the spaces between its walls. It goes as high as the chimney and as low as the basement. Let’s take a step-by-step look at what a careful home inspection often entails.
- An inspection of your lot and grounds. Your home inspector will examine your driveway and garage. He or she will check your walkways and any decks or porches attached to your home. Inspectors also measure the grading of your lot to be sure that it won’t contribute to any water problems with your home.
- Next comes a thorough inspection of your home’s exterior, including its paint, fascia boards, and all of your doors and windows. Your inspector will also check to see if your exterior lighting is in good shape.
- Your roof protects your home. Roof problems are among the most expensive to solve, so your inspector will evaluate every part of it, so long as it is safely accessible by the inspector. This will include your gutters and downspouts, plumbing vents, flashings, and your chimney.
- Home systems, like your electrical service and heating and air conditioning, will also be a subject of investigation. Your inspector will look for code violations, among other things, which are not uncommon in historic homes. He or she will turn on every light switch and check every outlet and report anything that’s amiss.
- Attics and basements can reveal underlying problems in your home so your inspector will look high and low. He or she can also tell you how well-insulated your home is, which will give you a better sense of how costly it will be to heat and cool. Figuring utility payments into your monthly expenses is important when budgeting for your new home purchase.
- Plumbing systems are complex and run through your entire home. A thorough home inspection will take into account your water and gas service lines, interior pipes, service caps, and other plumbing components and, again, make sure they are up to current code.
- Your home’s foundation, beams, and joists are what hold your home together. Your inspector will be able to tell you how solid your home’s overall structure is. Structural repairs are quite costly and can devastate a homeowner’s budget. You need to know if your home is going to need them.
- Our lives run on appliances. From your dishwasher to your clothes dryer, your home inspector will check all appliances to see if they are all in good working order and estimate how old they are. Appliances have a limited life span. Homebuyers should be able to anticipate when they’ll need to replace them and figure the cost into their long-term expense outlook.
- Fireplaces and wood stoves make a house more homy. But they also expose your home and family to greater risk if they’re not functioning properly. A home inspector will review how your fireplace is constructed, checking such parts as its insert, smoke chamber, damper, and flue to be sure it doesn’t represent a safety hazard.
- There are a host of sophisticated tests your inspector may order to make sure your home will not contribute to any health problems for you and your family. These include testing your drinking water and tests for mold and harmful bacteria, asbestos, radon, and lead. A lead inspection is especially important if you have young children. Lead paint laws are necessary and common, but the cost of lead abatement can run into many thousands of dollars.
How Much Does a Home Inspection Cost?
That depends on a few factors. The size of your home, how many specialized tests it may require, and your zip code will influence your total professional inspection bill. Everything is more expensive in large cities. Basic home inspections are typically priced between $300 and $600. But rather than focusing on the cost, it’s smarter to consider the value of the service. A licensed plumber may charge you $100 per hour to fix a faulty toilet. Even one small undiscovered problem can cost more to repair than having your home professionally inspected. ASHI can help you find a local, licensed inspector trained to uncover such issues and save you from having to bear expensive repairs down the road.