Although paying for an independent home inspection as part of the home-buying process may, in some cases, seem unnecessary, today it is typically one of the standard clauses of any real estate offer. The inspection is normally conducted at buyer expense, so it is important to understand the reasons for an inspection and exactly what it entails.
The expectation, of course, is that a home inspection will identify any areas of concern, allowing the buyer and seller to address those issues and possibly negotiate solutions prior to finalizing a contract.
Time Frame and Cost
A written offer on a home always includes a definitive schedule that governs the timetable between the offer's acceptance and closing. Among other time constraints, most offers now include a requirement for a comprehensive home inspection, with ample time to assess the findings. Home inspectors understand the urgency and generally can be expected to deliver a written report promptly, often within 72 hours. The cost for a home inspection varies, but most Shawnee new home buyers consider it well worth the expense.
What an Inspection Entails
While many of a home's visual shortcomings—such things as chipping paint, a cracked sidewalk, stained carpeting or a dripping faucet—are obvious, a home inspector is charged with looking below the surface and beyond the obvious. Typically, an inspector will spend several hours in a home to test the operation of mechanical and electrical systems, to allow installed appliances to run through their cycles, and to examine the roof and underlying structure for faults. They may also search for any safety hazards in the home. A buyer may wish to be present, though a comprehensive report is usually created and sent to the home buyer within a day or two after the completion of the inspection.
Basis for Negotiation
Based on the written inspection, a home buyer then has the opportunity to ask that any deficiencies and faults be corrected. They may be minor, such as a need to install splash blocks at gutter drains or to fix a squeaky garage door, or major such as substandard electrical service or severe roof problems. Unless a dollar limit is specified or agreed upon, the cost of such repairs may be handled in various ways. The seller may pay to have work done prior to closing; the contract amount can be adjusted to compensate a seller for the estimated cost of repairs, or the parties may make other arrangements. If no agreement can be reached, then according to the inspection contingency, in most cases, the offer may become voided.
Peace of Mind
While there are several valid reasons for ordering a property inspection, one of the most important may be peace of mind. The information contained in the report offers a more detailed picture of the home's condition, and may become a checklist that new owners use to schedule ongoing maintenance and repairs. If an Inspector identifies major faults or costly shortcomings, a buyer is not only forewarned but able to take action, either by walking away, by negotiating a lower price or by insisting that repairs be made by the seller. Furthermore, dangerous issues such as lead in the home could come to light in older homes.
Using the inspection Report to Advantage
It is important to understand that home inspectors offer guidance, not guarantees. However, knowledgeable professional inspectors will diligently examine the home's structure, systems, fixtures and materials, and note any potential problems. Inspectors are usually prohibited from opening up any walls or doing any sort of construction work to discover any problems or issues. However, they can suggest that a prospective buyer seek qualified expert opinions and compare cost estimates for suggested work.
The home inspection should not be viewed as a report card, and there is no "passing grade." Instead it becomes part of the property's history, and offers new owners a path to follow to make the home as safe and perfect as possible.