Purchasing a home is one of the most important investments you will make, so you need to ensure that the home you’re interested in is in a condition you are comfortable with. Home inspections use a trained expert to evaluate a home’s condition. During the home inspection, the qualified inspector makes an in-depth, fair look at the property you’re considering purchasing.
An Inspector Should:
Evaluate the physical condition: the structure, construction and mechanical systems.
Find and list items that should be repaired or replaced.
Estimate the remaining useful life of major systems (such as electrical, plumbing, heating, air conditioning), equipment, structure and finishes.
The home inspector does not estimate the value of the house.
General Home Inspection Checklist Items:
Structural Elements: Construction of walls, ceilings, floors, roof and foundation.
Exterior Evaluation: Wall covering, landscaping, grading, elevation, drainage, driveways, fences, sidewalks, fascia, trim, doors, windows, lights and
Roof and Attic: Framing, ventilation, type of roof construction, flashing and gutters. It does not include a guarantee of roof condition nor a roof
Plumbing: Identification of pipe materials used for potable, drain, waste and vent pipes. including condition. Toilets, showers, sinks, faucets and traps.
It does not include a sewer inspection.
Systems and Components: Water heaters, furnaces, air conditioning, duct work, chimney, fireplace and sprinklers.
Electrical: Main panel, circuit breakers, types of wiring, grounding, exhaust fans, receptacles, ceiling fans and light fixtures.
Appliances: Dishwasher, range and oven, built-in microwaves, garbage disposal and, yes, even smoke detectors.
Garage: Slab, walls, ceiling, vents, entry, firewall, garage door, openers, lights, receptacles, exterior, windows and roof.
Remember, home inspection reports do not necessarliy describe the condition of every component if they’re in excellent shape, but the report should note items that are defective or in need of maintanence.
Serious Issues Include:
- Health and safety issues
- Moisture and drainage issues
- Roofs of a short life expectancy
- Foundation deficiencies
- Furnace and A/C problems
After the inspection is completed, you should expect a written report of the home inspector’s investigation within a few days.
Remember, a home inspection is NOT a home appraisal. A property or home appraisal provides an estimate of a property’s market value. Lenders require an appraisal of a home prior to approving a loan on the home because Lenders do not want to loan more than the worth of the home.
Appraisal vs Inspection
Generally, Home Appraisals benefit Lenders, Home Inspections benefit Buyers.
The Federal Housing Authority (FHA) requires a lender to obtain appraisals of homes and properties backing FHA-insured loans.
The FHA requires appraisals for three reasons:
To estimate the market value of your Montana property.
To ensure that a property meets FHA minimum property requirements and standards (health and safety).
To ensure that Montana properties can easily be resold.
The appraisal will note problems that are readily apparent with the property and non-compliance with HUD’s minimum property requirements and standards. These problems may not be the same as those items noted in a home inspection report.
The FHA does not guarantee the value or condition of the home you are interested in purchasing, and the FHA does not do home inspections. If you find problems with your new home after closing, the FHA can neither lend or give you money for any repairs nor can the FHA buy back the home from you. The FHA cannot help you with the seller or original builder or subcontractors involved in the home’s construction.
That’s why it is so important for you, the buyer, to ensure an independent home inspection is done. Request a qualified home inspector to thoroughly examine the physical condition of the home you’re interested in and supply you the information needed to make a prudent decision.
When you write an offer on a home, you should insist that the contract state the offer is contingent (dependent) on a home inspection by a qualified inspector. You will have to pay for the inspection, but an inspection could very well deter you from buying a home that may cost you far more in future repairs. If you are satisfied with the home inspection, you can proceed with your offer.
Obtain Qualified Inspectors
As the buyer, it is your responsibility to carefully select your qualified home inspector. The following sources may help you find a qualified home inspector:
State regulatory authorities: some states require home inspectors to be licensed.
Your Realtor: most real estate professionals have a list of home inspectors they recommend to clients.
Professional organizations: Professional organizations may require home inspectors to pass tests and meet minimum qualifications for membership.
Phone book or Internet: Look under “Building Inspection Services” or “Home Inspection Services.”
Radon gas testing: Radon is a natural occuring radioactive gas found in many homes across the country. Strong concentrations (amounts) can cause serious health
problems. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Surgeon General recommends all homes be tested for radon. For more information on radon
testing, call the National Radon Information Line at 1-800-SOS-Radon (1-800-767-7236). As with a home inspection, if you decide to test for radon, you can doit before or after signing a contract, as long as your contract states your purchase depends on (is contingent upon) your satisfaction with the radon test results.
Lead Paint Issues:
Many homes built before 1978 have lead paint, and some ingredients can threaten your health. To protect your family, you should be sure to get a lead-based inspection and/or risk assessment. For more information, contact the National Lead Information Clearinghouse at 1-800-424-LEAD (1-800-424-5323).
In conclusion, inspections are prudent investments in your future property.