When buying a new home, it is wise to make a well-informed purchase and most people choose to pay for a home inspection and some mortgage companies require one. There is a big difference between an appraisal and a home inspection. An appraisal simply entails a representative working for a lender to place an appraised value on the home. Often times, an appraisal magically coincides with the proposed purchase price. To the contrary, a home inspection should be a thorough inspection of the property and its structural and mechanical conditions.
When an inspection is performed, a home inspection form is filled out and usually provided to both the buyer and the seller. There are many different levels of quality in the home inspection field. Some inspections are considerably more thorough than others and buyers should be cautious when choosing a company or individual. Ask to see the home inspection forms they use when checking the company out.
Their home inspection forms should include the following areas at minimum.
Exterior Walls and Foundation
A complete visual inspection of the home's exterior should be included. How is the siding holding up, is there peeling paint, cracks in the foundation, are brick surfaces and mortar in tact? If none of these areas are checked, it isn't a thorough inspection.
Roofing, Gutters and Downspouts
If your inspector shows up with a stack of home inspection forms and no ladder, question the quality. For a roof to be thoroughly inspected, it needs to be visually examined at eye level not from the ground. Further, the gutters and downspouts should be checked for sound attachment and leaks.
A thorough home inspector will conduct a general survey of the interior quality of the home. Some areas such as worn or stained carpet, cracked drywall or peeling paint may be plainly visible to everyone, but should still be indicated. Further, a quality inspection will include looking for damage to walls hidden by pictures or inside of closets.
Windows should be checked for proper opening and closing and signs of water damage. Interior doors and knobs, lighting, fireplaces, and presence of working smoke alarms should all be checked as well.
You should be informed regarding the presence and general operating ability of heating, air conditioning, plumbing and electrical components. Quality inspectors will check several, if not all, electrical outlets, will flush toilets, turn on dishwashers, ovens, and other appliances including the furnace and air conditioner. Their job is not to estimate the life expectancy or efficiency of the systems, just to determine if they are in proper working order at the time.
When you receive the completed home inspection form, each of these areas should be addressed where applicable and the condition of each area properly noted. Typically, each specific area will be noted as either excellent, good, fair, or poor condition. Fair or poor condition does not necessarily denote failure of an appliance or functionality of a door or window, it may simply indicate something is very old and in poor condition compared to new. An explanation of items noted as poor should be provided where necessary. If you hire a home inspector who does not provide forms with detailed information, demand a quality inspection or a refund.
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