Why a Home Inspection?
Americans love their homes. Whether it’s an old fixer–upper, new construction with all the amenities, or somewhere in between, most of us smile with pride when we talk about our homes. And why shouldn’t we? We spend more time at home than anywhere else and the time we spend at home is usually in the company of those we love the most. That’s why it is so important to go into your new home with your eyes wide open to all of its potential flaws and foibles. As we all know, knowledge is power and when we understand our homes we are certain to enjoy them more.
That’s why all home buyers (and even existing home owners interested in a “tune–up“ for their home) should have a professional home inspection.
A home inspection helps to identify problems in the house that may cost you money or be a safety hazard. Many of these problems will not be visible to you as you tour the house with your realtor. The inspector will take their flashlight and tools into the recesses of the house. Places you probably avoided on the tour like the attic and crawlspace and inside other accessible panels and covers. A professional home inspector has the knowledge and training to identify potential “money–pit” problems and point out the important maintenance items so you can also keep the home in good shape.
Another benefit of the knowledge gained through a home inspection is negotiation leverage. Armed with your inspection report, you may be able to negotiate a better price for the home. And, though fairly rare, sometimes a buyer will decide that the house’s flaws are just too many or too severe and will walk away from the deal. More often, there are no major problems and then the inspection simply provides some peace of mind for you as the deal moves forward.
Typically, a home inspector is hired immediately after the contract or purchase agreement has been signed. However, if you know you’ll soon be home shopping, I recommend you find an inspector before you sign so you have the time to find someone you trust. Realtors are always happy to make recommendations but I believe it is in your best interest to keep “church and state” separate in this process and find a home inspector that is not connected to your realtor. Be sure there is an inspection clause in the sales contract, making your final purchase obligation contingent on the findings of a professional home inspection. This clause should specify the terms and conditions to which both the buyer and seller are obligated.
When hiring an inspector there are some things to keep in mind. First and foremost is that you should expect the inspector to be your advocate and to have your interests be his (or her) primary concern. Be present at the inspection. You’ll get a lot more out of it if you’re there to see potential problems first hand. Your inspector should be accessible after the inspection and be able and willing to discuss the findings with you, put things in perspective, and offer advice. But don’t expect advice on whether or not you should buy the house; this is not allowed. In the end, the knowledge your inspector imparts is one factor in your purchase decision.
In Illinois, home inspectors are licensed by the state, so be sure that your inspector is licensed. And your inspector should belong to a professional society, such as the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), whose members are committed to the highest levels of professionalism as well as ongoing training to keep up with the latest in home inspection technology.
So, happy house hunting. I hope you find the home of your dreams!