YOU: Should I get a home inspection?
ME: Yes. It’s your last chance to look at the home before possession day.
YOU: If I’m buying a condo, should I still get an inspection?
ME: Probably, but not necessarily. Depending on the size and style, there’s usually less to inspect in a condo, but you still need to be comfortable. If you feel good about the present condition, you can leave the inspection out of your offer.
YOU: How do home inspections work?
ME: I let the home inspector in, and he looks at the home for around three hours. We all meet at the house when he’s finished and review his report. You’ll get a copy of his report to keep as a PDF or in a binder.
YOU: Are home inspections expensive?
ME: They run around $425.
YOU: Shouldn’t the seller pay for the inspection? It’s his house.
ME: No. I get asked that from time to time. The home inspection is for you, and you should pay for it.
YOU: What does the home inspector look for?
ME: Defects. Your inspector will climb into the attic, go on the roof, slip into a crawl space, test the appliances and report on the present condition of all of the systems, including plumbing, wiring, structure, and foundation.
YOU: So, my inspector will tell me if it’s a good house?
ME: No, the inspector won’t recommend a house—they just tell you what condition it’s in. It’s up to you to decide if it’s a good house. Also, they won’t comment on workmanship unless it’s a structure or safety issue. The homeowner doing a lousy job installing laminate flooring (common) isn’t something a home inspector will comment on.
YOU: Do I have to hire a professional inspector?
ME: No. If Uncle Wilf knows a lot about houses and works for beer, give him the job. As long as you trust the person, it’s good enough.
YOU: Is there anything a home inspector doesn’t do?
ME: Be aware that home inspectors are not usually electricians or plumbers by trade. Still, they know enough about a home’s systems to alert you if further investigation is required. Unless there is a clear reason for concern, rely on your home inspector to look at the home and give you his report. If he feels you need to get a certified trade in for a look, then request further inspections from the seller.
YOU: What if the inspection result is terrible?
ME: You don’t have to buy the house. Keep in mind, though, that every house has problems, even new houses. A house starts dying the day it is born. You have to balance the price range with the home’s overall condition. If you have $250,000 to spend, you’ll have to deal with a few things. That doesn’t mean you can’t find a safe, sexy house—you just need to decide what you can live with and without.