The real estate profession and the task of buying a new home has changed drastically over the past 25 years. It has evolved from a “let the buyer beware” mentality, to the current state of disclosing everything known that might adversely affect the buyers and the property they purchase. Enter the Home Inspector.
Are home inspections mandatory? No, they are optional. Is it a good idea to have an inspection done? You bet it is. Okay, if it is such a great idea, what do I need to know about my home inspection and the person who does it? Here are a few tips to consider.
First and foremost, home inspectors should be certified as well as being licensed by the State of TN. A home inspection done by a non-licensed person, regardless of the person’s experience and qualifications, carries little to no weight. While it may make the buyer feel more comfortable that his neighbor’s brother’s cousin has a construction background, inspections done by non-licensed individuals lack the “teeth” to be enforced, whether it be in getting repairs done or opting out of a contract.
Do I need to be there while my inspection is being done? That’s usually between you and the inspector. Inspections may take 3-4 hours and can involve going onto the roof and crawling under a house. Most inspectors don’t want the buyer hanging over his shoulder or carrying on a steady dialogue while doing their jobs. Can’t say as I blame them. It may be better to let the inspector do his job and then plan to meet at the property when he is finished so that any areas of concern can be pointed out and explained.
If my inspection reveals items that the inspector suggests should be addressed, does the seller have to do all of them? Absolutely not. Unless these items were mentioned in the purchase contract, they are now strictly negotiable. Both parties are provided with an “out” here if they can’t come to an agreement on who does what.
This brings up another point. Some buyers expect a seller to try and put a 20 year old house in brand new condition, even though it was priced as a 20 year old house. It doesn’t work that way. The older the house that is being purchased, the more normal wear and tear a buyer should expect. Just because the home inspector makes note of an item that may not be 100% (like a settling crack), that doesn’t mean you expect the seller to address that item. Sort of like buying a car with 85,000 miles, you expect it to run but it won’t run like a brand new one and the tires may have some wear on the treads.
Can I get an inspection on a brand new house? You sure can. Sometimes a builder or his sub-contractors may overlook something in the building process. This is the one place where a buyer can expect most anything on the inspection report to be corrected by the seller. After all, new means new and you aren’t expecting defects or flaws in a new house. (within reason, of course)
How much should I expect to pay? The inspector sets the fee and usually depends on the size of the house. The fee is normally paid as soon as the inspection report is completed directly to the inspector.
In short, get a home inspection when you buy. Choose someone who is licensed, someone who has a good reputation, be reasonable in your expectations, don’t forget to bring some common sense along with you and remember that there are no perfect houses.