Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is a home inspection?
A: The goal: The goal of a home inspection is to give the client a much better understanding of the physical condition of the structure than would otherwise be known. To achieve this an inspector conducts a visual inspection of the house and its systems.
Preliminaries: Typical homes take about 3 hours to inspect. When the client arrives the inspector often presents a pre-inspection agreement to be signed followed by payment. A good inspector then gives the client an overview of the inspection process and invites the client to accompany him.
The inspections include, but are not limited to: The roof, the roof support system in the attic, load bearing walls, doors, chimney, walls ceilings, floors, windows, foundation, water penetration, yard drainage, and over structural integrity. The inspections also include: Built-in appliances (oven, stovetop, disposal, trash compactor, vent hood, microwave); also, garage door opener, dishwasher, ceiling fans, electrical, plumbing, air conditioning, heating, water heater, pools, hot tubs, lawn sprinkling systems
Completion: Upon completion of the inspection the inspector should give the client a summary of what was discovered and an opportunity to ask questions. The client then receives a signed written report of the findings. The report is the client's property; no other party is entitled to see it.
Ethics: The inspector's job is to inform the client of the condition of the home. He can describe any problems discovered, explain how and why they occurred, and even make repair recommendations. The inspector should not recommend contractors, estimate repair costs (unless the inspector is an active contractor in the particular field), recommend whether or not the client should purchase the home, comment on its market value, or benefit in any way from the repair or sale of the home.
Disclaimer: The inspection is limited to the condition of the house at the time of inspection and what is visually accessible. it is important to understand that an inspection is not a warranty and that it is limited. Due to industry pressures, an inspection is expected to take no more than 2-3 hours. It is impossible for an inspector to inspect every one of the thousands of components that make up a home in this 2-3 hours. He must rely on his experience to optimize the time available and focus on the most important items. No two inspectors will make exactly the same report.
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Q: How much should a home inspection cost?
A: This is often the first question prospective home buyers ask a home inspector. (Asking the inspector about their qualifications, experience and how they get most of their business, should be the first questions.) In home inspection, one size does not fit all. The level of experience and talent of home inspectors varies. The size and age of the home varies. Some homes / condos can be inspected in 2 to 3 hours. Older, larger homes can take 4 or more hours. Some inspection reports might take an hour or two to complete, while others might take 4 hours or more. Some so called "informational" websites state that home inspection fees run from $150 to $275, however, these "low" fees are usually based on an inspector doing 3 or 4 inspections per day. If a thorough inspection takes around 2 to 3 hours with an additional 2 to 3 hours to write the report, how "thorough" is the inspector who does 4 inspections & reports in one day?
Every inspector quotes inspection fees using different criteria or methods. While some charge a flat rate, others charge by the square foot of living area. Some charge by square foot of area under the roof, some charge by price of the house and others charge by the amount of time spent (which is reflection of not only size but condition.) Some consider detached garages as part of the main house and do not charge for them (but may include the square footage into the overall size calculation) while others consider detached garages as outbuildings and charge extra for them.
Some charge for all the optional items, others charge for some of them, others will not inspect for certain items such as swimming pools or septic systems. Most inspectors have a minimum charge for their services. In some parts of the country the "general rule" of $100.00 per hour applies. Some charge for mileage from their location to the inspection site. Some inspectors maintain websites where a prospective client can submit information about the property and receive a quote by e-mail.
Money: Let's put home inspection fees in perspective: If you're buying a $400,000 house and the inspection fee is $700, that's less than .2% of the cost of the house! Most real estate agencies charge 3% to 6% to sell a home, that would be $12,000 to $24,000 for a $400,000 house! The cost of a home inspection is a bargain, even if you paid $1500 of the inspection, and most are less than half that!
Aside from the time invested, the value of the inspection and report can be measured by its usefulness. If the inspection turns up a little wrong with the house, you've bought some relatively inexpensive peace of mind. If the inspection finds serious problems, it could end up saving you many thousands of dollars
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Q: Do I need to be there during the Inspection?
A: No, you aren't required to be there for the home inspection. But I highly recommend that you be present. Its a valuable learning experience for most people and will help you get the most benefit from the inspection. By following the inspector you can ask questions directly and the inspector can explain maintenance tips for specific areas. I can also explain to you much better in person if I find a problem in the house than in a few lines in the report. I feel you'll be able to best understand the finished report and get the most benefit from it by having been there during the inspection.
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Q: Why can't I do the inspection myself?
A: Chances are that even if you are very familiar with home construction, you still don't have the knowledge, training and experience of a professional Home Inspector. We've inspected thousands of homes. We are not only familiar with all of the systems of a home, and how they work and need to be maintained, but we also know what to look for to tell us that they are getting ready to fail. But beyond the technical expertise and experience a professional inspector brings, it is important to remember that the inspector remains an impartial third party. If you are involved in buying or selling a house, its impossible for you to remain completely unemotional about the house, and this may cloud your judgment. The professional inspector will provide an objective outside reporting of the facts.
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Q: What if the inspection uncovers problems?
A: Our report will tell you the condition of the house, including needed repairs and expenses. No house is going to be perfect. It is up to you to decide how any problems the inspection uncovers might affect your decision to purchase. If major problems are discovered, you may want to try negotiating with the seller to have them repaired before closing the deal. Or perhaps the seller will lower the price, or offer more favorable contract terms. In the end, the decision rests with you, but knowing about potential problems, before you buy, gives you the power to negotiate and make the best decisions.
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Q: Will you fix the problems you find during the inspection?
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My Promise to You
Choosing the right home inspector can be difficult. Unlike most professionals, you probably will not get to meet me until after you hire me. Furthermore, different inspectors have varying qualifications, equipment, experience, reporting methods, and yes, different pricing. One thing for sure is that a home inspection requires work, a lot of work. Ultimately a thorough inspection depends heavily on the individual inspector’s own effort. If you honor me by permitting me to inspect your home, I guarantee that I will give you my very best effort. This I promise you