What’s the purpose of a home inspection?

As simple as this questions seems you’ll get many different answers from people you ask – you’ll even get different answers from home inspectors.  But as is often the case, sometimes you can work towards an answer by asking another question.  And here’s that question:  You’re paying for the inspection, dear client; what do YOU want to get out of the inspection?

That’s an important thing to consider.  What do you, as a home buyer, hope to get out of the inspection?

From my perspective the purpose of a home inspection is for me to teach my client about the house.

  • how it works
  • what kind of maintenance is necessary
  • what condition it’s in
  • what’s wrong with it and should be fixed
  • what’s wrong with it but can wait for repairs
  • how bad, serious, and expensive these defects are
  • how old the major systems and appliances of the house are
  • what’s right with it
  • how it’s been updated and cared for over the years
  • how it compares to other houses of this vintage and in this area

Once you learn these things you can more easily make an informed decision about buying the house.  Do you want to back out of the deal?  Do you want to ask the seller for repairs or credits?  Do you need more time to have things looked at by a specialist?  Learning everything you can about the house makes these decisions easier.

The part of the inspection that focuses on what’s wrong with the house is what most people focus on, and that’s certainly a very big part of the process.  It’s the part of the process that might save you a lot of money and might keep you safe.  But it’s not the only part.  Understanding what kind of maintenance to do to your house can also be a very important part of the process and it might help you keep your house operating properly for many years, saving you money in the long run.

And it’s important for you to understand how the inspection house compares to other houses in the area, something only an experienced home inspector who’s seen lots and lots and lots of houses can really do.  I inspect a lot of very old houses, and some of them still have the original galvanized steel water pipes.  These old pipes are highly prone to leaking and are usually ready to be replaced.  It’s important for the buyer to understand not just the need for new pipes but how common this problem is.  That way a buyer can more easily compare this house to others that they might want to buy.  This helps a buyer decide if they should move ahead with the purchase or keep looking.  After all, if you think you’re paying top-dollar for a house then shouldn’t it be among the best in the area?

Let’s get back to the question:  What do you, as a home buyer, hope to get out of the inspection?  I encourage you to think about this question and understand what you want so that you can get the most out of the inspection process.  Keep in mind that you want to learn about the house, and my advice is to consider these issues to be most important:

  • How do I maintain my home?
  • What’s wrong with the home and how serious are these defects?
  • How does this home compare to others in the area?

Once you’ve learned these things about the house you’ll be ready to make an informed decision.

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