The reality of purchasing a home is within your reach. You have just had your purchase agreement accepted by the sellers and now you just have a few other obstacles to overcome before you are a happy home owner, not the least of which is the home inspection. Here are some tips designed to help set the proper expectations of your home inspection.
What exactly is a home inspection?
A home inspection is a complete evaluation of the visible and accessible systems and components of a home. It is intended to give the home buyer a better understanding of a homes overall general condition. A home inspection delivers vital information so that decisions about the purchase can be confirmed or questioned, and can uncover serious and/or expensive to repair defects that the seller/owner has neglected or may not be aware of. It is not an appraisal of the property value; nor does it address the cost of repairs. It does not guarantee that the home complies with local building codes or protect a client in the event an item inspected fails in the future. A home inspection should not be considered a technically exhaustive evaluation, but rather an evaluation of the property as it sits on the day it is inspected.
A home inspection by definition is not designed to be a warranty, guarantee, or cradle to grave insurance policy that nothing will ever break, fail, leak, or cease to function as originally intended. A home and all of the systems and components within are dynamic with a finite service life. Some systems and components will fail or need replacement at a predictable point in time, while other systems and components fail unpredictably and usually at the most inconvenient of times.
What should I expect during the inspection?
Expect your home inspection to last anywhere between 2-5 hours. The length of the inspection will greatly depend on the age, size, condition, and whether or not the home is occupied. Expect to be present during the inspection. While it is not mandatory that you be present, it is a good idea. By being present during the inspection, you can voice any concerns you may have about the home and ask questions to learn about your new home. You can also see what your inspector sees when he or she sees it. This is particularly important in the event the seller chooses to dispute an item that shows up in the report. You saw it too! This is your time, take advantage of it.
Expect your home inspector to be there before you. Good home inspectors always arrive early to get a feel for the home before they start. Many times, they will begin on the exterior of the home looking for clues that may lead them to certain defects inside the home.
Expect your home inspector to take plenty of digital photos during the inspection. Home inspectors use these photos in their report to fully document his or her findings. You know the old saying, a photo is worth a thousand words.
Expect the unexpected! Even the savviest of home buyers can get surprised during a home inspection. Home inspectors look at and inspect homes much differently than the average Joe. It is almost a certainty that your home inspector will uncover one or more things that you didn’t see or expect.
Expect your home inspector to look at and inspect all of the major systems within the home. Do not expect your home inspector to concern themselves with cosmetic issues such as marks on the wall or stained carpeting. Your home inspector should be following a standards of practice that encompasses the following items:
Exterior components: (siding, trim, windows, doors, decks, patios, driveway, concrete areas, grading)
Roof, gutters and downspouts
Foundation/structure of the home
Attics, basements and crawlspaces
Insulation and ventilation
Electrical systems and components
Plumbing systems and components
Heating and air conditioning systems and components
Kitchen including all permanent appliances and bathrooms
Additional items and systems unique to a particular home can also be inspected. This however will greatly depend on your home inspectors knowledge and experience.
What should I expect after the inspection?
Expect to receive your inspection report within 24 hours. Most home inspectors will email you your inspection report the same day as the inspection. The report should describe in relative detail the entire condition of the home inside and out. Any defects noted in the report should be detailed through written observation as well as photo documentation and have a clear recommendation from the inspector. Expect to go over your inspection report with your Realtor and express any concerns that you would like to have addressed.
Expect to have questions. Most home inspectors are more than willing to take any additional questions you may have after the initial home inspection takes place. Should something come up for instance, that needs more clarification from the inspector, you should be able to call your home inspector and ask any questions that you may have.
Expect bumps in the road. In some (not all) cases the home inspection derails a purchase agreement due to the homes condition. Some defects found during home inspections can easily scare a potential home buyer away from the home. It greatly depends on the severity of the issue, the cost involved and who will be the one paying for it. It is also important to be realistic in your home search and understand that unless you are building a new home, you are buying a “used” home and as such, none of them will be perfect.
It's the biggest con being played on homeowners, according to the Better Business Bureau's new Scam Tracker Annual Risk Report.
Some guy knocks on your door claiming to have extra roofing material left over from a nearby job, and offers to fix yours for bupkis.
And you know what you get for bupkis, right?
Invariably, the scammer -- who especially loves showing up in areas recovering from major storms -- takes the money and runs after doing little or no work.
"You always try to give people the benefit of the doubt," the Bureau's Felicia Thompson told a local CBS TV station in Arizona. "Not everybody's bad, but nowadays you just can't do that."
No, you can't. And now that you've been forewarned about this particular swindle, read on to learn how to choose the right (reputable) contractor to repair or replace your own roof.
* Make certain they're insured. If there's one thing that's non-negotiable it's that the contractor carry insurance for all employees and subcontractors -- and provide a copy of their certificate for your inspection.
"Actually call the insurance carrier to confirm that they are valid," Angie's List advises.
* Run if they suggest this. Did the contractor vying for your business really just claim to be able to handle a storm-related repair, say, without you paying your required insurance deductible? There's a name for that: insurance fraud, which you want no part of.
* Run even faster if they suggest this. While it's reasonable for contractors to request a modest down payment before work begins -- call it "earnest money" -- beware if the figure exceeds 20 percent of the bill's projected total cost. Should they start talking 50 or even 75 percent.
"The red flags of possible fraud are fluttering," the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud's James Quiggle has warned.
* Know your contractor. When it comes to peace of mind, hiring a contractor who's a member of a reputable roofing manufacturer's contractor program is helpful. But certification alone may not tell the whole story.
* Communication skills matter. A knowledgeable contractor will present a range of roofing shingle and accessory options by price, style and color. Balking at running through them with you is a bad sign.
Oh, and about that Scam Tracker Annual Risk Report. Guess who's "most susceptible," as the Bureau delicately put it, to home improvement scams in general? Men aged 55-64.
Now you're doubly forewarned.
Buying an older home: The home inspection and building codes
If you are one of the millions of home buyers that are enamored by older homes, there are a few things to understand before making that final plunge and buying one.
First let’s define the “older home”. For the sake of argument, we will define an older home as one being built between 1900-1930. Many home buyers are magnetically drawn to these older homes due to their old world charm and craftsmanship. The architecture of many of these homes can certainly be appealing to many people as the majority of older homes contain those fine hand crafted details that you simply cannot find in today’s newer homes.
You have no doubt heard the expression “They don’t build them like they used to”. This is a very true statement. Over the last 100 years, home building and the required building codes that go along with it have drastically changed. This is particularly important to know especially when it comes time for your home inspection. The importance of finding a home inspector who is cognizant of the year built and the codes that go along with it cannot be overstated.
When purchasing an older home it is important to be realistic in your expectations of the home itself as well as the home inspection. In most cases, there were very little to no building codes present at the time many of these homes were built while today’s newer homes have literally thousands of codes that must be adhered to. So what can you expect when it comes to your older home and building codes?
Unless the home has been extensively remodeled recently, odds are there will be many things that are not considered to be up to today’s building code requirements and should be considered “typical of year built”. There are many safety and health related items that still lurk in and plague older homes that are considered unacceptable today. Some of them include lead based paint, Asbestos materials, balloon framing and knob and tube wiring. These are all things that your home inspector should point out to you during your inspection to help you make a better informed buying decision, however, it would be considered unreasonable to expect the seller of that older home to bring everything up to today’s code requirements. It is called grandfathering. The term "grandfathered" however, ONLY applies to original and unaltered construction.
Now here comes the technical part which is considered a grey area among many real estate professionals. If the home was “extensively” remodeled, then everything that was remodeled in the home would need to be brought up to the codes that were present at the time of the remodeling. For instance, back in 1920, there was no such thing as GFCI outlets. If the home was remodeled in 1990 and that included a new electrical system, then that electrical system would have to meet the 1990 code requirements and that would include GFCI outlets.
While many listing descriptions state that a particular older home has been remodeled, in most cases, they are speaking of “cosmetics” (new carpet, tile, paint, stainless steel appliances and so on). If the home truly was remodeled, there should be a ton of receipts available from the work that was performed and the date on those receipts is crucial in determining if the proper code requirements were followed.
When purchasing an older home, practice your due diligence and find out if and when the home was remodeled. If the home was remodeled, obtain the receipts from any work performed by the seller. This will help you to determine if the remodeling was just cosmetic items or if it truly was an “extensive” remodel. If the home is original and has not been altered in any way, then you can reasonably expect that the home does not meet and is not required to meet today’s building code requirements.
Last but certainly not least, take the time to hire an experienced and reputable home inspector in your area who has the experience and knowledge inspecting older homes and understands the “grandfathering” term as it relates to building codes.
In 2016, The Travelers Companies, Inc. released information about the most common and expensive homeowners insurance claims in the United States, based on their claims from 2009 through 2015. Weather-related incidents were associated with over half of all claims. Wind, freezing and bursting pipes, roof and flashing leaks, and ice dams were all specifically listed by the insurance provider.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), no safe blood lead level in children has been identified and at least 4 million households in the United States have children living in them that are being exposed to high levels of lead.