Understanding The Home Inspection Process
Like the old saying goes, you should never judge a book by its cover, especially when that book is a new home. Just because a home looks to be in perfect condition from the outside, it can be hiding a number of buried secrets that will haunt you in years to come, which is why getting a home inspection before you close is so important. A professional inspector can help you to identify any potential issues with your new home that you can address (or at least be made aware of) before you invest in your new property. Although each home inspection is different, here's a breakdown of what to expect when you're inspecting.
Is a home inspection really important?
In a word: yes. We recommend making sure your offer is contingent on your inspection, as it's possible for your inspection to uncover some hefty issues--like roof leaks, cracking foundation, or HVAC problems. While these might not be deterrents in your home purchase, it's best to have the most accurate assessment of the home before you close so that you can be aware of any expensive issues you'll have to make later on. You can also try to work in having the current owner complete any needed repairs as part of the closing agreement (and sometimes they might have a legal obligation to complete certain repairs).
Start with a trusted professional
It's important to start with a knowledgeable, experienced, and licensed professional to conduct your home inspection. While you can get recommendations from your real estate agent, family members, or trusted friends, it's important that you do some research on your own to ensure that you're hiring the most qualified person for the job. South Carolina and Florida both require that home inspectors be certified, so make sure that the person you're hiring is current on their certifications. Ask questions like "how long have you been in business?" "how much do you charge?" "what do and don't you check specifically?" and "how soon after the inspection will I receive my report?"
What do inspectors inspect exactly?
While they don't inspect every single thing, they will generally take a look at the house from top to bottom. They generally inspect things like the electrical systems, plumbing, walls, ceiling, windows, flooring, roofing, heating and cooling systems, foundation, attic, basement, insulation, and major appliances, among others.
What doesn't get inspected?
In general it's difficult for an inspector to identify things that would require doing damage to the home, things like pests, septic tanks, and mold to name a few--but some inspectors do offer these services (often for an additional charge).
What to do during your inspection
Inspections generally take 2-4 hours, depending on the size of the home, and although you're not required to be there for the inspection, it's recommended that you try to be there if possible. This will allow you to walk around with the inspector, asking questions and getting clarification about things. They can help answer any questions you might have about anything in or outside the home, weatherization during other times of the year, and to make sure you're prepared for the findings of the inspectors report.
What's in an inspection report?
While each report is different depending on the inspector and the home itself, the report is generally a detailed checklist and evaluation of everything in the home. There will generally be a number of issues highlighted in the report, and the inspector will include the severity of each issue, so that you can prioritize the most important issues first.
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