Home inspections, sometimes referred to as "Whole House Inspections", can be valuable tools for both the buyer and seller in a real estate transaction.
For the buyers, a well performed professional inspection will help them understand the home they are buying. While no inspection can be expected to reveal everything, a great deal of useful information will be provided to the buyer. This information may uncover problems or potential problems or it may put the buyers' minds at ease regarding issues that are of major concern to them.
At the present time, there are no regulations concerning home inspections nor uniform definitions of what a home inspection covers. Further, since there is no specific licensing procedure required to perform home inspections, there is in effect no accountability or liability for those services. For this reason we at STAR ONE encourage buyers to interview a minimum of two or three inspection firms in order to fully understand their qualifications and the method of reporting they will utilize. A full written report prepared specifically for a particular property is highly recommended.
Home inspections are not intended as a guarantee or warranty by either the inspector, the home owner, or the Realtor. A properly functioning and maintained ten year old gas forced air furnace may have another fifteen to twenty years of useful life remaining or a major repair or replacement may be required in two to five years. The inspector can only report on the furnace's present condition and can only predict its future serviceability or remaining service life.
Likewise, an inspector may report that certain components of a home are outdated, functionally obsolete, or not to current code. For example, a thirty-five year old water heating unit may be in good operating condition but is inefficient compared with today's high efficiency units. The electrical service may be safe but not to current code since electrical codes are updated and changed on a regular basis. Knob and tube or Romex wiring still exists in many older homes today and provides dependable, safe service although it is "Not to Code."
A home inspection also should not be considered a "punch list" of repairs required of the seller that were clearly visible to the buyer at the time of his/her personal inspection. Cracked driveways, poor or worn paint conditions, squeaky doors, and other obvious observable defects/conditions should be contractually addressed prior to the inspection or discussed directly with the seller or the Realtor.
If there is doubt on anyone's part as to the validity of a home inspection or any part thereof, buyers and sellers should consider a "second opinion" from either another home inspector or an individual specializing in the area of concern, i.e., an electrician, furnace man, roofer, etc.