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Our Newsletter: November, 2014

Get the best Inspection you can get, some great tips

By Richard Patrick of LazrWeb Services | November 19th, 2014

Make sure that you get the most from your home inspection

Make sure your real estate contract includes an inspection clause

Contracts allow homebuyers usually only 10 or so days after signing to have the property inspected. That is not always the case, so it's important that the contract include a home-inspection clause. The results of the inspection can be used to ask the seller to fix trouble / problem spots, or to adjust the selling price to cover the cost of the necessary repairs.

Get several references

Because state laws regulating the licensing of inspectors are generally lenient, certifications from certified trade associations are often a much better barometer of an inspector's experience and skill set.

Word of mouth is still the most common way to find an inspector. But even if the recommendation comes from a friend or real estate agent, it's a good idea to check their website for certification(s), call their references, and consult the local Better Business Bureau to make sure previous jobs have been without incident.

Demand a quality and thorough inspection

Only about one-half of the states have laws stipulating exactly what must be covered during an inspection. A thorough job should include a complete assessment of the interior and exterior of the house, from roof to foundation, as well as a performance / condition analysis of the heating, plumbing, air-conditioning and electrical systems.

Some crawl spaces will be too small or too dangerous for inspectors to get into; expect to be told about some parts of the house that were not examined.

For a three-bedroom, two-bath home on up to an acre of land, a complete inspection should last about three hours and cost between $300 and $500, depending on the region of the country, the size of the house and property, and other on-site structures. Do not forget to inquire about air quality, water quality, radon gas, and termite inspections, if available.

Cost is a very good indicator of how comprehensive the inspection is going to be.

A professional inspector cannot afford to do a quality inspection for $85.00 – $99.00

One simple reason: expensive equipment and training. A diligent home inspector will carry a toolset that includes carbon monoxide and natural gas detectors, moisture meters, outlet testers, voltage meters, and an array of measuring devices.

The professional inspector generally attends on-going training in home detection and inspection issues.

The discount inspectors try to get away with not much more than a flashlight, ladder, and screwdriver. That simply is not enough.

Get the results in writing

The inspection report is an excellent gauge of how exhaustive the work is, and a window to the overall condition (worth to you) of your potential home and it's systems.

Before hiring an inspector, take a good look of their sample inspection report. If it's just a basic checklist, it is completely insufficient.

A complete report should be anywhere from 20 to 100 pages long. It should include color photographs, describing in layman's terms, what was observed and any problems that were discovered. If there are major structural issues, or any problems the inspector can't see or diagnose, the report should recommend further examination by a structural engineer or other such specialist.

Some inspectors will include estimates of the cost of repairs –– but it's illegal in most states (and considered a conflict of interest under ASHI and other trade-group rules) for inspectors to solicit repair business based solely on their findings.

Make sure that your home inspector agrees to spend an hour or so with you to go over the details of the inspection and answer all of your questions.

Hold the inspector liable for omissions or missed problems

Inspection contracts tend to be unassuming documents, but they contain one critical piece of information: the inspector's liability if he fails to discover an existing problem with your house or property. In many cases, their liability is limited to the cost of the inspection only.

So if you paid $300 for the service, that's what the inspector is obliged to reimburse you, even if you turn up a $3,000 problem the day after you move in.

Faced with this, you can protect yourself by hiring an inspector who carries insurance that covers not only damage to the property during the inspection but also losses due to "errors and omissions".

Don't skip an inspection just because the house is new construction

New homebuyers are more likely to think that a home inspection is unnecessary and will forgo an inspection and purchase the home. This is a huge mistake; a professional quality inspection should be a requirement of any new construction contract.

Because most new homes come with a one-year warranty, an inspection can unearth construction flaws covered under this agreement that might otherwise go unnoticed for a few years.

That way, you can find and fix any problems that might hinder the sale. If a seller needs a smooth and fast transaction, they should have a complete home inspection done before putting the property on the market.

Home inspectors acknowledge that whether a house is new or old, there are certain potential trouble spots that can be nearly impossible to distinguish, like water intrusion that has been plastered over, cracks in concrete slabs that are hidden by floor coverings, or damaged walls that are concealed behind a careful paint job.

What a good inspector should be looking for, and what he builds his reputation upon, are the things that will cost buyers $10,000, $20,000, $30,000 after they move in.

If you use a skilled, professional inspector, he will find those things.

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