Is an inspection necessary?
You have the right to request an inspection of any property you are thinking of purchasing by a professional inspector of your choice. You should always exercise your option to have the physical condition of the property and its inclusions inspected. Many of the more severe and expensive problems such as mechanical, electrical, structural and plumbing, are not noticeable to the untrained eye. If repairs are needed, Roger can negotiate these in your contract. A professionally conducted home inspection followed by a written evaluation is becoming standard procedure in home buying because of increased buyer awareness and savvy.
What should your require from an inspector?
The increase in buyers requesting property inspections has caused a rapid increase in the number of people entering the inspection field. Look for designation by the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI).
The American Society of Home Inspectors
The best thing is to ask if the inspector is a member of the American Society of Home Inspectors. ASHI is a non-profit professional organization with strict standards and qualification criteria for membership. To become a member an inspector must demonstrate, through extensive testing, a proven knowledge of residential construction. They must have experience and expertise to recognize defects and problem situations. They are required to have the ability to convey their finding in a meaningful report. And, they are required to meet continuing education requirements. ASHI’s Standards of Practice and stringent Code of Ethics serve as a professional performance guide which all members follow.
ASHI estimates the number of home inspectors in the U.S. to be about 10,000. While membership in ASHI grows daily, only about 1,200 to date have met ASHI’s strict membership requirements. ASHI is recognized by government agencies and professional groups (including the National Association of REALTORS®) as the nation’s leading home inspection organization. ASHI sets standards for professional practice and qualification which are recognized throughout the country.
What does an inspection entail?
A qualified inspector will follow ASHI’s Standards of Practice in conducting their inspection. The inspection consists of a physical inspection of the home with the purchaser present, followed by a written report detailing their findings. They report on the general condition of the home’s electrical, heating and air systems, interior plumbing, roof, visible insulation, walls, ceilings, floors, windows, doors, foundation, basement, and visible structure. The inspection is not designed to criticize every minor problem or defect in the home. No home is perfect. It is intended to report on major damage or serious problems that require repair for the well-being of the home, and that might require significant expense.
Buyer education is necessary
The primary purpose of the inspection is to educate the buyer to enable them to make an informed purchasing decision. The inspector should allow and even encourage the buyer to attend the home inspection. A good home inspector knows how the home’s many systems and components work together and how to minimize the damaging effects of sun, water, and the passage of time. Attending the inspection provides an important opportunity for the buyer to learn, first hand, how their prospective new home works, and about possible repair costs and maintenance routines. This is valuable information which could increase the life span, and perhaps the future selling price of the home.
Continuing education is important for inspectors
A competent home inspector is familiar with the latest construction materials, home building techniques, and professional equipment. Consumers should research whether prospective home inspectors actively monitor the changes in construction and real estate in order to keep their business practices current and professional. Members of ASHI must meet annual continuing education requirements for this purpose.
Time and fee guidelines for the inspection
The time necessary to properly inspect a home, as well as the fee charged by an inspector, varies according to market location, the size and age of the home, and the individual inspection company. However, you can expect that it will take an average of two to three hours to competently inspect a typical one-family, three-bedroom home, with an average cost of $200 to $300.
Beware of false claims
Consumers must be cautious in evaluating some of the claims made by people hoping to fill the growing demand for home inspection services. Many new companies request only an application fee. Some claim to offer certification but do not require exams or proven credentials. Still others boast engineering licenses as assurance of competence, even though the engineering license has nothing to do with home inspecting.
Some inspectors may be qualified to provide other types of services with their inspection that go beyond the scope of the ASHI standards. In certain states, ASHI members say that radon testing is the most common extra service requested.