Hiring a Home Inspector

Baker Fred "Gene", Reichel, Claudette Hanks  |  5/24/2007 10:31:58 PM

Lenders usually require a termite inspection and mechanical equipment inspection. A more complete inspection is a good idea. Getting a thorough inspection before you buy a home can save you thousands of dollars.

If you plan to hire an inspector, be sure your purchase agreement says the sale is subject to your approval of the results of a professional inspection. Knowing about your home’s flaws also could help you negotiate a better price on the house if you to decide to buy it anyway or get the seller to pay for the repairs.

A reliable home inspector should thoroughly examine the home and give you an evaluation of its condition, describe structural problems and check all the mechanical systems (plumbing, heating, air conditioning, electrical, well-water, septic).

Sometimes home warranties are used instead of a house inspection. While a warranty may be a worthwhile form of insurance for buyers who couldn’t easily afford major repair expenses, it’s wiser to know up front if there are any problems so that you’re not caught by surprise. Most real estate companies sell such a warranty. Sometimes sellers pay for the warranty to make their home more attractive to buyers.

Look for an inspector who is a member of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). If the structure is complex, you may want an inspector with Professional Engineer (PE) credentials.

It also is important to remember a home inspector and a building inspector are not the same. A home inspector is an independent professional who is hired (usually by a homebuyer or homeowner) to conduct an objective visual examination of the physical structure and systems of a house, from the roof to the foundation, and provide a report of findings. The standard home inspector’s report covers the condition of a home’s heating system; central air conditioning system; interior plumbing and electrical systems; the roof, attic and visible insulation; walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors; the foundation, basement and structural components. In Louisiana, professional home inspectors must be licensed and have special training and continuing education.

A building inspector is an employee or agent of a governmental authority empowered to inspect building projects and insure that they are constructed according to code.

Also, remember an inspection by a company that also makes repairs poses a conflict of interest. A reputable inspector would never offer to perform needed repairs and should not refer you to a contractor.

Your contract for an inspection should state that the detailed report be written and list:

  • Major problems and estimated costs to correct them.
  • Minor problems and estimated costs to repair them.
  • Estimates of the expected life of various items such as roof, furnace, electrical system, air conditioning and appliances.
  • Costs of maintenance.

If possible, go with the inspector on his or her rounds so you can learn first-hand the condition of the house, as well as maintenance tips. The inspection may take 2 to 3 hours and cost $150-$300, depending on the complexity of the house and credentials of the inspector.

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