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Home Inspection Advice from Consumer Reports

Home inspection advice from Consumer ReportsAn issue of Consumer Reports® has a relevant investigation of defects in homes. Importantly, the article gives excellent advice regarding how home buyers can take steps to avoid trouble.

The Consumer Reports® article states “Be proactive. Consumers should never buy a house without first hiring a real-estate attorney and a home-inspection engineer.”

It is important for home buyers to understand that the credentials of home inspectors vary widely, some are licensed engineers, some are non-engineers, some claim to be professional home inspectors, some claim to be certified, some claim membership in a home inspector group. Some certifications can be obtained by almost anybody, a high school diploma is not a requirement and certifications can even be obtained by joining a trade group.

The Consumer Reports® article states “Hire a qualified home inspector. Preferably, the inspector should be an engineer or architect.”

If you have questions about why you should hire a qualified home inspector, contact us. We’ll provide you with complete details.

Inspecting a Home’s Attic

attic insulation helps lower energy billsInadequate insulation means that 10 to 50 percent of energy is lost through walls, ceilings and floors. Proper insulation helps lower energy bills by resisting heat loss. Where the interior of walls and ceilings is easily accessible, adding additional insulation can be a relatively inexpensive way to get a big return on energy savings.

The first place to look for missing insulation is in the attic. Attics, in general, are fairly accessible, but in many homes, even newer homes, insulation is often times inadequate. As part of a general home inspection, the inspector will examine the type of insulation present and its approximate thickness or “R-value.”

The inspector will also examine (if the attic is accessible) the attic interior, including: roofing, framing, sheathing, insulation, ventilation and chimneys. Any visible signs of moisture intrusion will be noted. The attic is a key element in the home’s ventilation system. Moist air from inside the home must be properly vented to the outside in order to protect roofing materials and prevent the growth of mold and mildew.

The inspector will also look for areas of safety concerns to ensure proper rating and installation of canned or recessed lighting in order to prevent overheating and possible fires.

In most cases, home inspectors will allow you to accompany him or her during an inspection. We, in fact, encourage this practice.

Home and Building Inspectors: What to Look For

Having a home or building inspection performed is, quite commonly, one of the crucial steps in purchasing a property. Buyers and developers want to make sure they are not going to end up buying a property that may have structural problems or which needs costly repairs or updates. This is especially true if they are looking for development opportunities that will allow them to make a fairly quick profit.

Home and Building Inspectors: What to Look ForIf you are planning on demolishing an existing structure and performing a complete rebuild, you do not need to worry as much about structural issues. The same is true of parcels of land which are currently undeveloped. That does not mean there will not be some sort of surveying or inspection carried out in these cases, it is just that the condition of the building itself is not as much of an issue.

There are many companies that offer home or building inspection services. Some are quite competent and you can trust them to give you an unbiased and clear view of what exactly may be wrong with a property that seems to be in good condition. Other companies and individuals may not be as trustworthy. Horror stories abound of individuals who trusted their home inspector and found out too late they should have avoided a particular property.

Ask Questions Before Hiring an Inspector

It is important that you speak with an inspector prior to hiring them. If you are able to meet with them before the home inspection in order to feel them out this may help you choose one who is more honest about what is going on behind the walls of a home or other building. If you are meeting them for the first time at the property for the inspection itself it is too late for you to choose another provider without the real estate deal potentially falling through.

Find out how long they have been working in the home or building inspection industry. Find out how long their inspections usually take and whether they know how to perform specialized tests such as radon testing. You need to find out whether they can identify known toxins and carcinogens in the building in question such as the presence of asbestos tile.

Find out what they did before they became a home inspector. Did they have experience working in the construction or contracting industries? If so, why did they change trades? You may be able to weed out individuals who have a lack of industry knowledge before they come to inspect your home.

Make Sure They Have Experience With Your Type of Building

It is important for you to ensure that the inspector you are using has experience looking at the kind of building you are thinking of buying. A commercial building, for example, will likely have different issues than a home or other type of residential building would have.

What to Expect From the Inspection

You should expect your home or building inspector will take a substantial amount of time going over a property. A large property should take more time to inspect than a smaller one. Make sure they look at the roof, the foundation and areas such as insulation. You want to make sure they note any structural issues or defects in the building.

A good inspector will furnish you with a report covering all of the issues they noticed. If you are new to the world of property development, getting estimates for having work done can also be helpful. You want to make sure you can also get a copy of the report for the individuals who are financing your purchase as well.

5 Questions to Ask Your Home Inspector

So you’ve found a home and need to take the next big step, seeing if there is anything hidden you need to know about.

Many home inspectors seem to be speaking a different language when using terms like “serviceable condition” and “conducive to deterioration.” Here are 5 things you need to ask and understand about your new home so you can make a smart decision whether to go forward or not.

1-How bad is it – really?

Sometimes it’s hard to know whether something a home inspector finds is a big deal or not. This is information you really need to know so you can decide whether to move forward with the deal, whether to renegotiate, and what to plan ahead for if you do go through with your purchase.

If you attend the inspection, simply ask whether or not something they say needs fixing is a big deal. Nine times out of ten they will verbally give you the information you need to understand the seriousness of something they found.

2-Who would I have fix that?

Many things a home inspector finds and lists on his report can be fixed by a do-it-yourselfer. even on the larger repairs, your home inspector might be able to give you a few referrals to the plumbers, electricians or roofers you’ll need to get bids from during your contingency period, which you may be able to use to negotiate with your home’s seller, and to get the work done after you own the place.

The same goes for any further inspections they may recommend – if neither you nor your agent knows a specialist, ask the general home inspector for a few referrals. They usually know experts they can refer you to.

3- If this was your house, what would you fix, and when?

Your home inspector’s job is to point out everything, within the scope of the inspection, that might need repair, replacement, maintenance or further inspection. But they are also experienced enough to know that no home is perfect, and can tell you what you should fix, versus just what you need to be aware of watch it.

This question positions your home inspector to help you:

  • understand what does and doesn’t need to be repaired,
  • prioritize the work you plan to do to your home (and budget or negotiate with the seller accordingly),
  • get used to the constant maintenance that is part and parcel of homeownership, and
  • understand the importance of having a home warranty plan

4-Can you point that out to me?

At the end of the inspection, while you’re all still in the property, just ask the inspector to take 10 or 15 minutes and walk you through the place, pointing out all the items they’ve noted need repair, maintenance or further inspection. When you get the report, then, you’ll know what and where the various items belong.

5-Can you show me how to work that?

Many home inspectors are delighted to show you how to operate various mechanical or other systems in your home, and will walk you through the steps of operating everything from your thermostat, to your water heater, to your stove and dishwasher – and especially the emergency shutoffs for your gas, water and electrical utilities. This one question alone can be worth the cost of your home inspection.

Buying a home is stressful enough. Take advantage of your home inspectors’ knowledge to lessen the fears you may have when you read his/her report by making sure you ask these questions. You’ll be glad you did.

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