Why you need to conduct a home inspection

by Dan Krell © 2005
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A home is the largest investment most of us will make in our lifetime. It seems, then, unwise to spend so much money without having a professional opinion of the status of the investment. For example, would you purchase company stock without looking at the status of the company? Wouldn’t you at the very least look at the recent performance, cash on hand, leadership, etc.-and possibly discuss the purchase with a professional investment counselor? So too it is with a home. A home inspection can reveal much about the home you are about to buy.

A typical home inspector will check the status and condition of the home structure including the foundation, basement, roof, gutters, attic, chimney, siding, windows, doors, ceilings, walls, floors. The inspector will also check the operation and condition of the mechanical systems in the home, which includes the heating system (furnace), central air conditioning, ventilation, hot water heater, plumbing and pluming fixtures, electrical system (including electrical outlets). Additionally, the inspector will check all appliances that will convey as well as checking the condition of cabinets and countertops. Other factors checked include the exterior grading around the home, excess moisture in and around the home, any additional structure or system that conveys with the home.

A good home inspector will be able to give you a list of concerns that need to be addressed. Additionally, the inspector may be able to give you an idea of price for any necessary repair or replacement. Recently, it has become popular for home inspectors to provide home maintenance manuals. The manual provide repair and replacement timetables for various items around the house, as well as general Mr. Fix-it tips if you need to make a minor repair.

When choosing a home inspector, you should interview them and make sure they have credentials. Although the state of Maryland does not license home inspectors, there are several bodies that do provide training and certification. The most popular organization that provides training and certification is the American Society of Home Inspectors or ASHI. ASHI has been around for twenty-eight years, and was the first to provide home inspectors with a code of ethics and standards of practice. You can search on the ASHI website for ASHI certified home inspectors as well as getting additional information about the home inspection process. AHIS’s website is www.ashi.org.

Up until the past few years, it was almost a given that a homebuyer would have a home inspector conduct a standard inspection on the home they were going to purchase. However, because of the recent seller’s market providing much competition among buyers, many people have waived their right to have a home inspection.

At what cost are you willing to pay for future structural repairs and/or systems replacement to get into that home? It is not uncommon for defects in mechanical systems to show themselves within the first couple of years of ownership. The furnace or air-conditioning compressor is the first to go on older homes. Whether you are a first time homebuyer or a seasoned homeowner, you might want to think twice before waiving that home inspection.

This column is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. This column was originally published in the Montgomery County Sentinel 5-23-2005.
Copyright Dan Krell 2005.