Few of us would consider buying a used car without first having a mechanic look it over, or at least taking it out for a test drive. Yet that is exactly what many buyers do when buying a resale home. They often fail to have a professional home inspection performed on the home they are interested in, even though it is probably the largest and most important investment they will ever make.
Fortunately, there is a growing industry of home inspectors to fill this gap. Unless you are an expert, it is highly unlikely that you will catch a home's minor, or sometimes even major, problems during a typical house viewing. This is why it is important to obtain a professional unbiased second opinion before making such an important decision.
A good home inspector will give you an unbiased assessment of the structural and mechanical soundness of the home. He or she will identify any existing or potential problem areas, and give an overview of the condition of the foundation, basement, roof, windows, doors, walls, ceilings, floors, plumbing, electrical, heating & cooling systems. The best inspectors will also make suggestions on how to solve any problems they discover and give a general estimate of possible costs.
A Home Inspection is the best way to 'test drive' your new home. It allows you to make your purchase with confidence. It avoids nasty surprises once the deal has closed, and it offers the chance to rethink or renegotiate an offer if serious concerns do arise.
When hiring a home inspector, make sure of the following:
- That they are well established and have the required experience and credentials.
- That they are independent and unbiased - they have no affiliation with any firms that might create a conflict of interest.
- That they will provide a thorough written report of their findings.
- That they stand behind their work. What warranties do they provide?
- That they are members of a professional association, such as ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors), NANB (National Association of Home Builders) or ICBO (International Conference of Building Officials).