When closing on a home costs can quickly add up – from closing fees to mortgage insurance, and everything in between. It can be tempting to skip a home inspection altogether and save yourself a bit of money along the way. However, getting a home inspection is much like checking under the hood of a car. You wouldn’t buy a car without having a look, and you definitely shouldn’t close on a home without at least a basic inspection by a professional home inspector. The several hundred dollars you will spend on the inspection can save you thousands down the road in unexpected repairs.
Even if you plan to purchase a home in a state with legally-mandated disclosure, the only way to be sure that you are getting the full picture if you hire your own home inspector. Your closing contract should always have a contingency that includes a home inspection and the option to renegotiate (or back out of the deal) should any major flaws be discovered. A home inspection ranges between $200-$500, depending on the location and size of the house.
How To Get A Home Inspection
You can find a good home inspector through recommendations from your real estate agent or family and friends, or you can look for one directly through the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). Keep in mind that you may need to get specialist inspectors for specific areas of your property, such as a landscape inspector, or a separate inspector that specialized in natural disasters in your area (hurricanes, earthquakes, etc.). Generally, an inspector will check for any flaws in the foundation, issues with drainage, safety hazards such as mold and radon, ensure that the home is up to code, and various other issues that may not be immediately apparent to the untrained eye. Make sure you know ahead of time what your home inspector is able to check, and get additional specialist inspectors if necessary.
If possible, try to arrange a walkthrough with your inspector. This will allow you the opportunity to ask questions before you are handed the final report, and clarify which issues must immediately be addressed and which can be left without causing further damage or posing a safety hazard. You can also take this opportunity to get a rough estimate of the age of various systems in the house, such as plumbing and heating, and get a better idea of when they will need to be replaced (even if they are currently functional).
Once your home inspector has gone through the property they will provide you with a written report of the findings, as well as recommendations on how to proceed. With this information you can determine if you would like to bear the costs of these repairs, renegotiate with the seller to deduct the cost of the repairs from the purchase price (or, alternatively, agree complete these repairs before the sale), or decide that you would rather back out of the deal altogether.