What a Home Inspection Provides
Since a home is such a huge investment, it only makes sense to be concerned about its condition. A home inspection may just save you thousands of dollars. More than anything else, a home inspection by a licensed professional provides peace of mind.
The inspector will run the heating and cooling system and investigate the water heater. While in most cases an inspector doesn’t have access to the heat exchanger in the furnace, he can tell you the condition of the filter. He has no way of knowing the condition of the wiring behind the walls, but he can test the system for shorts.
The best home inspectors will recommend further inspection by an appropriate contractor. For instance, if he feels there may be a structural problem, he may recommend that you contact an engineer. If he notices evidence of wood-destroying pests, he may recommend that you have the home looked at by a pest inspector.
Should You Waive the Inspection Contingency?
In a multiple-offer situation, a buyer who waives the inspection contingency is most likely going to prevail. What seller wouldn’t relish the thought of a quicker close and fewer headaches, not to mention saving a ton of money if something happens to be wrong with the house?
But, by the same token, cash-strapped buyers need to know if the house they are about to buy has bad wiring, a leaky roof, a heating system on its last legs or anything else that may cost thousands of dollars to repair.
Buying a home without having it professionally inspected is the same as buying it as-is. If you’ve ever purchased a used car from a private party, you understand that you may be buying someone else’s headaches. Even knowing that, the feeling that you may end up on the side of the road with a broken-down car is hard to shake.
Transfer that feeling to what will probably be the largest investment you make in your lifetime, and it’s easy to understand why the home inspection has become a routine and vital part of the home-purchase process.
Make it Easy on the Inspector
As a buyer, you have no control over whether or not the seller will clear access to the areas of the home that the inspector needs to see. Ask your agent to add an addendum to the purchase agreement requesting that the seller provide the following:
Clear access to the attic – Inspectors are not allowed to touch or move personal items. If she can’t get to the attic access without moving things out of the way, the attic won’t be inspected.
An empty dishwasher – Home inspectors run through each cycle but will not do so unless the appliance is empty.
Access to the electric panel – Ask the seller to move boxes or anything else that may be blocking the electric panel.
Clear access to the furnace and water heater.
Plumbing – The water service should be left on. If it is turned off at the main, the inspector will need written permission to turn it on.
A home inspector can’t possibly tell you everything that might be wrong with the home you’re about to purchase, but you will be reassured that the major systems are in good working order. And that peace-of-mind is something you should never compromise on.