Potential homebuyers can save time, money, and heartache by first having a qualified home inspector check the property.
Everyone knows that home ownership is almost every person dream. That dream can quickly become a nightmare, however, for uninformed buyers. Even newly constructed homes can harbor costly mistakes—mistakes that may not be visible to the untrained eye.
Many homebuyers assume that they do not need a home inspection. They simply rely on their eye and their intuition to check a property’s quality and safety. That can be a costly, and dangerous, mistake. An inspection by a qualified home inspector can save potential homebuyers time, money, and heartache. Inspections generally cost from one to four thousand dirhams —a relatively small price to pay to protect such a large investment.
Before You Begin
When you put in an offer on a house, make sure to leave room for a home inspection. In some areas this will be called an “option period.” Others will simply call it a contingency. Whatever name is used, there needs to be a clause in the real estate contract allowing the potential homebuyers to either back out or renegotiate in case of uncovered problems.
What Does an Inspection Cover?
A home inspector provides a visual, non-invasive inspection of various structures of a property. They do not drill into walls, move structures, or in any way damage the property to perform tests. The purpose of the inspection is to determine if the components are in working order at the time of the inspection. A typical home inspection includes a visual inspection and operational check of the following:
- Structural Systems—foundations, floors, walls, etc.
- Electrical Systems—wiring, main service panels, conductors, switches, receptacles, etc.
- Air Conditioning Systems—cooling and air handling equipment, controls, and ducting.
- Plumbing Systems—piping, fixtures, faucets, water heating, fuel storage system, etc.
- Ventilation and Insulation—attics, basements, walls, floors, foundations, kitchen, bathrooms, etc.
- Roofing—coverings, flashings, etc.
- Exterior—siding, windows, decks, garage doors, drainage, retaining walls, etc.
- Interior—partitions, ceilings, floors, doors, windows, built-in appliances, etc.
- These optional structure are also checked, though sometimes at an additional charge:
- Hot Tubs
- Lawn Sprinklers
- Outdoor Cooking Equipment
- Security Systems
- Swimming Pools
After the inspection, the inspector will provide a comprehensive report explaining his findings.
What Doesn’t an Inspection Cover?
Value—A home inspector is not a home appraiser, and he cannot appraise the value of the property. Guarantees for the future— An inspector checks the function of the home at the time of the inspection only. Though he may try to report any potential problem areas, there are no guarantees either expressed or implied for future performance.
I Have My Inspection Report—Now What?
The inspection report should be carefully analyzed. The information it contains is an important tool for the homebuyer, as it can be used in a variety of ways:
- Renegotiate—If the inspection uncovers needed repairs, the potential homebuyers can use it to renegotiate the contract terms. They can either ask the sellers to make the needed repairs or they can ask for money back at closing. Sometimes sellers will simply reduce the selling price to accommodate needed repairs.
- Retract—In the case of major problems, such as mold or structural damage, a buyer may choose to terminate the contract. Under these circumstances, the homebuyer has avoided a potentially costly and dangerous situation.
- Planning—Sometimes an inspection report will uncover minor issues that could eventually become major problems. This enables a buyer to make informed decisions about the long-term investment.
The Inspector Found a Problem—Is it a Deal-Breaker?
At first glance, many inspection reports can be a bit overwhelming. Some are so detailed that it may appear the property will soon be falling down! Fortunately, though, in most cases the issues uncovered by the inspector are minor. On the other hand, major problems are sometimes discovered. Here is a rundown of some common issues… and some potential deal breakers:
- Cosmetic Issues—Chipped or peeling vinyl flooring, chipped paint, paint splatters, small holes in sheetrock, etc. are cosmetic and are usually inexpensive to repair.
- Foundation “settling”—Hairline cracks in the ceiling or concrete are usually a sign of normal settling or shrinkage, and not a sign of structural damage. In desired, this can usually be fixed with putty or paint.
Potential Red Flags
- Water damage—Improperly treated water damage can cause the growth of mold and mildew.
- Radon—This odorless gas, found mostly in rocky areas, can cause cancer.
- Mold—Toxic mold can cause serious health problems, or even death, especially to infants and those with weak immune systems.
- Defective Roofing—This can be a costly problem to repair.
- Major Foundation Problems
- Mixed Plumbing
- Undersized electrical system—Found mainly in older homes, this can result in a shortage of household circuits and outlets.
- Windows that do not seal
- Major drainage problems
- Even these red flag items are not always deal-breakers. If these items are found in the property, contact the appropriate specialists. Find out if the issues can be resolved, and at what price.
- Weigh out the overall cost, in both time and money, to find out if it is a worthwhile investment.