What You Should Know About Home Inspections

Since obtaining a home inspection is one of the most important steps in purchasing a home, I thought I'd take the opportunity to provide some insight into the home inspection process.

A qualified inspector can point out potential costly problems with the home you are considering buying, and a good inspector will give maintenance advice and ultimately give you peace of mind about your home investment. All home buyers -- whether they are buying an older home or building a new one -- should have the home inspected by a professional after making an offer and before closing.

There are a few things you need to know before hiring a home inspector. First, the home inspection industry is becoming more professional and regulated. There are professional organizations with codes of ethics, like the National Association of Home Inspectors and the American Society of Home Inspectors, but membership is voluntary.

The average home inspection costs $300, which is paid on the day the inspector examines your home. Lower or higher fees do not necessarily reflect the expertise of the inspector. Finding an experienced home inspector who provides value for your money is most important.

The American Society of Home Inspectors (www.ashi.com) recommends interviewing at least three professional inspectors in order to find one you trust and with whom you communicate well. I can provide a list of local home inspectors for you to interview, and you should ask friends and family members for recommendations as well.

Ask inspectors about their qualifications. Do they have experience in the construction or engineering industry? Do they have special training or accreditation from a professional organization? How long have they been inspecting homes in the local area? Are they familiar with problems specific to our area like drainage issues, pests or building material failures?

Once you have found a qualified professional, it's important that you attend the inspection with me and your home inspector. Some buyers like to climb into the crawl space and attic with the inspector to look at the home's major systems. At a minimum, be on site to ask questions, examine the problem areas and learn about the ongoing maintenance your home will need.

The standard home inspector's report will review the condition of the home's heating, plumbing and electrical systems. The report will also include information about the structure including the foundation and basement, as well as the roof, attic, walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors. It may include photos of problem areas or recommendations for repairs.

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