When accumulating upfront funds when purchasing a home in Northern Utah, one expense that buyers might be tempted to forgo is the home inspection.
For most loans an actual home inspection is not an item that is required by your lender. So when you’re looking at all the additional costs at closing, it may be tempting to just let it slide since inspections cost a few hundred dollars depending on the size and features of the home. PLUS, if there are multiple offer situations, a home inspection can drastically decrease the appeal of your offer.
However, not having a home inspection go can cost you big time in the long-run.
Think of a home inspection sort of like test driving a car that you’re considering buying. You would never buy a car without driving it around for a minute would you? You want to make sure nothing is broken, smoking or not properly functioning before you make that big purchase. Buying a home is no different, just the signs of a problem with a home aren’t always simple to spot with the naked, untrained eye.
That’s where your home inspector comes in. While there are limitations to a home inspector’s capabilities to spot trouble (such as the inspector isn’t going to pull up the carpet in every room to make sure the foundation isn’t cracked) there’s a lot that they can point out you may never think to look for.
Home inspections will vary depending on the type of property you are purchasing. A large historic home, for example, will require a more specialized inspection than a small condominium. However, the following are the basic elements that a home inspector will check.
Use the following on-line hand-out provided by REALTOR.org to help you evaluate if you should hire a home inspector. Also, for more information, try the virtual home inspection at www.ASHI.org, the Web site of the American Society of Home Inspectors.
Why you should have your home inspected.
Structure: A home’s skeleton impacts how the property stands up to weather, gravity, and the earth. Structural components, including the foundation and the framing, should be inspected.
Exterior: The inspector should look at sidewalks, driveways, steps, windows, and doors. A home’s siding, trim, and surface drainage also are part of an exterior inspection.
- Doors and windows
- Siding (brick, stone, stucco, vinyl, wood, etc.)
- Attached porches, decks, and balconies
- Roofing: A well-maintained roof protects you from rain, snow, and other forces of nature. Take note of the roof’s age, conditions of flashing, roof draining systems (pooling water), buckled shingles, loose gutters and downspouts, skylight, and chimneys.
- Plumbing: Thoroughly examine the water supply and drainage systems, water heating equipment, and fuel storage systems. Drainage pumps and sump pumps also fall under this category. Poor water pressure, banging pipes, rust spots, or corrosion can indicate problems.
- Electrical: Safe electrical wiring is essential. Look for the condition of service entrance wires, service panels, breakers and fuses, and disconnects. Also take note of the number of outlets in each room.
- Heating: The home’s heating system, vent system, flues, and chimneys should be inspected. Look for age of water heater, whether the size is adequate for the house, speed of recovery, and energy rating.
- Air Conditioning: Your inspector should describe your home cooling system, its energy source, and inspect the central and through-wall cooling equipment. Consider the age and energy rating of the system.
- Interiors: An inspection of the inside of the home can reveal plumbing leaks, insect damage, rot, construction defects, and other issues. An inspector should take a close look at:
- Walls, ceilings and floors
- Steps, stairways, and railings
- Countertops and cabinets
- Garage doors and garage door systems
- Ventilation/insulation: To prevent energy loss, check for adequate insulation and ventilation in the attic and in unfinished areas such as crawlspaces. Also look for proper, secured insulation in walls. Insulation should be appropriate for the climate. Excess moisture in the home can lead to mold and water damage.
- Fireplaces: They’re charming, but they could be dangerous if not properly installed. Inspectors should examine the system, including the vent and flue, and describe solid fuel burning appliances.
Big problems spotted by your inspector during your due diligence period can save you thousands of dollars and prevent you from proceeding with the purchase of a majorly flawed home, a concept that is invaluable. While it may be tempting to save the money or let it slide in order to make yours the winning bid foregoing a home inspection is never a wise decision.
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