When you need a home inspection, you want to make sure you get a good one here in the Mountain Shadows area. First, you need to know what a good home inspection is. Then you need to know how to find a home inspector who can, and will, give you the home inspection that serves you well. And last, you want to know how much you should pay for this quality home inspection by a good home inspector.

How To Find A Good Home Inspector

Quality Home Inspection: Does It Matter? What Should It Cost?

A thorough home inspection is a vital part of buying any home, condo, or other type of dwelling. This inspection can protect you from expensive financial costs later on, because of defects that were not noticed and that you were not aware of. A home inspector has training and an education in factors that show hidden defects, such as signs of hidden water damage or electrical problems. A home inspection is a visual inspection of all areas and components of the home, both inside and out, that are accessible to the inspector. This includes the roof, the attic, the interior and exterior walls, all the windows and doors, all systems including heating, plumbing, and electrical, and much more. A knowledgeable and experienced home inspector can provide valuable information about a home that can prevent you from making a costly mistake if conditions are too bad. Not all home problems and flaws are readily visible to the inexperienced eye, and this is where a quality and thorough home inspection can help.

There are some things that may not be covered under a home inspection, and each state and inspection firm may have rules that vary. Some inspections do not cover mold testing, air quality testing, radon testing, wood eating insect testing, water testing, and other types of testing. Some home inspection businesses will perform some of these testing services for free or a charge, while others do not. Most home inspections cover the basic visual components of the home and the operation, condition, and function of the systems. Almost all the licensed home inspection companies can have these testing services performed for you through a third party, but these tests may not be considered routine.

A home inspection, is not a pass or fail type of test, but rather a complete and detailed overview of the condition of every possible aspect of the home that can be visually inspected. The inspector will check the door and window conditions and operation, look at the foundation and any slabs, check all the systems in the home, and basically go over the home from the bottom up, both inside and out. Even gutters, eaves, flashing, and the yard should be looked at. The fees charged for a home inspection will vary, depending on several factors. The size of the home, the location and state where the home is, any additional testing that is desired or needed, the age of the home, and the home inspection service used. A normal range for this inspection can usually run between five hundred dollars and up depending upon size, age and location of the property. This may seem like a big expense, but when you consider that a complete and thorough home inspection may reveal thousands of dollars in repairs and maintenance needed it is quite reasonable.

A home inspection can usually take between two and four hours, depending on the size and complexity of the home, but this can vary. The inspector may bring a checklist for the inspection that will cover every possible aspect of any home, plus there is usually room for handwritten observations as well. The home inspection checklist can consist of many pages, and each page may deal with a specific aspect or room, such as the master bathroom, or exterior walls. Each system involved, will normally have their own section also. Once the inspection is complete you will receive a complete typewritten report from the inspector, outlining both the negative and positive aspects of the home. This can also help you determine what maintenance is needed and when it must be done. Not all parts of a home inspection are negative, and every home may have a few problems. Sometimes a homeowner may have an inspection done just to ensure there are no hidden maintenance problems with their home.

It is a good idea for you to be present during the home inspection for many reasons. First, by being present you will have a chance to ask any questions you may have about the home or certain aspects. Following the inspector during the inspection will also give you a much clearer idea of what is involved with the different systems, and will help you understand the final home inspection report a lot better. Sometimes a buyer may feel confident and think that if they do a good visual inspection it is not necessary to have a home inspector come in and do an inspection. This is a common mistake. Sure you can see bare wires hanging out of the wall, but do you know the signs of hidden mold or previous flooding damage? Most of us do not know the hidden signs of home damage and problems, and this can lead to a serious problem being overlooked, and becoming a big financial burden once you have bought the home. You should always insist on a quality professional home inspection before buying any home, to avoid making a big mistake that can cost you later on.

Finding a qualified home inspector to do the home inspection is not difficult. You can look in the yellow pages of your local phone book, or ask around for references from friends and family. Talk to a few different companies, and then choose the one that seems right for you. Ask about professional ethics, qualifications, any licensing, and experience. Check with your local better business bureau for complaints against the company or the home inspector before making a final decision on which company to use. The best time to call for a home inspector is as soon as the purchase agreement is signed. Normally a home inspection can be done within a week, but sometimes this may not be the case. Calling as soon as possible will ensure that your purchase is not held up waiting on the inspection to occur. A home inspection is the best way to protect yourself and know about the true condition of any home before you buy it. This will be one of the biggest investments you will ever make, and you owe it to yourself to make sure the investment is a good one.

Commercial Real Estate Inspector

Importance of Home Inspection

This is a really good and important question. Many home buyers (and even agents) don't know exactly what a home inspector does. So let me clear the smoke right now.

There are basically 3 aspects to every home inspection:

1st - A home inspection is a visual, non-intrusive, & fair effort to discover the real material condition of the home during the time and day that the inspection takes place.

2nd - A home inspection isn't really about the home inspector telling you what's wrong with the home more than it is a discovery session for you to make sure you understand what you're buying so that you can decide if it falls within your expectations and is a good fit for your situation.

You see, my job is to make sure I align the reality of the home's condition with your expectations. If I can successfully do that, then I've done my job.

3rd - The home inspection report. The report is designed to summarize and convey the findings in a way that is clear, simple, complete, and easy-to-understand. If a home inspection is a snapshot in time of the condition of a home, then the report is the photo, itself (and a good report will have lots of photos). Without the report there is no real home inspection. It allows you to go back through the inspection as many times as you like in order to decide if the house is a good fit for you and your circumstances.

By nature, it's limited in scope to what can be seen, touched and tested, which particularly applies to vacant homes where a home inspector is forced to play detective and do the best they can during the short period of time they're at the home to find everything (good and bad) that you'll need to know in order to make an educated decision about the home.

If your schedule allows, you should also be encouraged to take advantage of the rare opportunity to follow a professional home inspector around your home who will invite your questions, concerns, and impart key information and advice that will certainly help you while you live in and maintain your home for years to come.

Some key points to remember about home inspections:

1. No house is perfect. Not even a brand new home. There will always be something worth noting in the report.

2. Not all home inspectors are created equal. Just like auto mechanics, some are better than others. Price should not be the most important consideration when comparing home inspection firms. Use word-of-mouth referrals, past client reviews, time in business, background, and expertise. This is especially true since you're making such a large and important investment.

3. A home inspection is an investment in the quality of your new home. View it as one. Personally, I always have a goal that the items I find in a home will at least cover the cost of the inspection when they are negotiated for repair. Of course, that doesn't always happens. Than again, sometimes my fee is tiny in comparison to what I find.

4. Old homes are like old people, the older they get the more attention they need (my sons laugh when I say that). Be sure to see older homes (50+) as they're supposed to be seen and try to avoid bringing the same set of expectations you had when you looked at that 10 year old home earlier in the day. It will not look or perform the same way. The 3 biggest concerns in every old home? The plumbing, electrical system, and foundation.

The Main Types of Home Inspections

Infrared Home Inspection

Are you buying a home? Buying a home is probably the most complicated (and important) purchase most of us will make in our lifetime. Like any major purchase there are features and specifications for all homes. On paper it may be the features that sell the home but if any of those features are in disrepair, you might be signing up for more than you bargained for and getting less than you paid for.

When you're purchasing a home, you need to know what you're getting. There are a few ways you can help protect yourself -- one of them is with a thorough home inspection. Hiring a qualified home inspection company to take a look at the home you're interested in buying is very important. At the same time, you need to understand what's involved with a home inspection so years after your purchase, you can keep up with the maintenance of your home. Here's why...

When you are buying a home it is important that you understanding what's involved with a home inspection. It can pay dividends for the rest of the time you own your house.

First, it's important to note that some things are not covered in a standard home inspection:

* Pests - Pest inspections require a licensed pest control specialist to perform inspections of building structures to determine damage or possibility of damage from pests.

* Radon -- Radon gas is an invisible, odorless gas produced by the normal breakdown of uranium in the soil.

* Lead paint - Inspecting a home for lead-based paint is not typically included in a home inspection because it takes place over several days and requires special equipment.

* Mold - Mold inspection is a separate inspection because it requires three separate air samples and surface sample analysis. Since mold inspection is beyond the scope of a traditional home inspection, be sure to specifically ask your home inspector if he or she would recommend a mold inspection.

* Asbestos - Asbestos is generally outside the scope of a home inspection because asbestos requires its own thorough review. Like with mold inspections, be sure to specifically ask your home inspector if he or she would recommend a separate asbestos inspection.

* Orangeberg Sewer Pipe -- Also known as "fiber conduit", Orangeberg Sewer Pipe is bitumenized fiber pipe made from layers of wood pulp and pitch pressed together. It was used from the 1860s through the 1970s, when it was replaced by PVC pipe for water delivery and ABS pipe for drain-waste-vent (DWV) applications.

The first thing to point out is that every home and home buyer are different which means that every home inspection is different and the importance of home inspection items are different. Below are some common things that are inspected during a home inspection. Keep in mind that some items in this checklist may not be necessary for your particular home - and that this list does not include all the item inspected by a professional home inspection service.

General Home Inspection Checklist

Lot and Neighborhood

Lot Area

* Does the grade slope away from the home or towards the home

* Are there any areas where the soil has settled near the foundation or driveway?

* What is the elevation of the home in relation to the street and neighbors?

Exterior

Roofing

* Is the peak of the roof straight and level? Or is there sagging?

* What is the condition of the roof vents? Are they visible?

* Are there gaps between flashing and chimneys, walls or other parts of the roof?

* Is there sagging anywhere else on the roof such as between the rafters or trusses?

* What kind of shingles are used? How much deterioration has set in such as curling, warping, broken shingles or wider gaps between shingles in the roof?

Chimney

* Is the chimney square to the home and level? Or is it leaning?

* What is the condition of the bricks? Are any bricks flaking or missing?

* What is the condition of the mortar? Is it cracked, broken or missing entirely?

Siding

* Is the siding original to the house? If not, how old is the siding and how is it holding up?

* Are the walls square and level or bowed, bulged or leaning

* What material is the siding? Brick, wood or plastic?

* What condition is the siding in?

* Is there loose, missing, rotten or deteriorated siding or paint?

* How does the siding fit connect to the foundation?

Soffits and Fascia

* What are the soffits and fascia made of? Common materials include wood, aluminum or plastic?

* Are there any problems such as rotting or broken pieces?

* Are there any missing pieces of soffit or fascia?

Gutters and Downspouts

* Are there any leaks or gaps in gutters or downspouts?

* Does the gutter slope toward downspouts?

* Is there any rust or peeling paint?

* Are all gutters and downspouts securely fastened?

* Is there a sufficient separation of the downspouts from the foundation?

Doors and Windows

* Are there any problems with paint, caulking or rotten wood?

* Are the windows original to the home? If not, how old are they?

Decks or Porches

* What is the porch or deck made of? Check for paint problems, rotted wood and wood-earth contact.

* Is there any settlement or separation from the house?

* If possible, inspect the underside of the porch or deck.

Foundation

* Are there any cracks, flaking or damaged masonry?

* Are there any water markings and powdery substances on the foundation? If so where are they located?

* Are the walls square vertically and horizontally? Or bowed, bulged or leaning?

Basement

* Is there any evidence of water penetration (stains, mildew/odors, powdery substances, loose tiles, etc.)

Flooring

* Is there any deterioration of flooring or carpet?

* Are there any cracks in the tiles or mortar?

* Do you notice any water damage or stains from previous water damage?

* Is there any sagging or sloped flooring?

Interior Walls

* Check that the majority of windows and doors work.

* Are the walls square and vertically and horizontally straight?

* Is there any cracked or loose plaster?

* Look for stains, physical damage or evidence of previous repair.

* Are there any drywall seams or nails showing?

Ceilings

* Review all plaster for cracks or loose or sagging areas.

* Are there any stains from water or mechanical damage or evidence of previous repair?

* Are there any seams or nails showing?

Kitchens and Bathrooms

* Check that all fixtures are secure including sinks, faucets, toilets and cabinetry

* Are there any cracks in the fixtures?

* What is the condition of the tiles and caulking surrounding sinks and tub and shower areas?

* What is the condition of the faucets? Do they work? Is there sufficient water pressure?

* Check under countertops for any water stains or rotting materials.

* Check that the majority of the cabinet doors and drawers are in working order.

Electrical and Mechanical

* Type, style and age of heating and cooling systems with service history.

* Type, age and condition of water supply piping and drains.

* Size and age of electrical service -- Are the outlets grounded? Visible wiring in good condition?

The Importance of a Home Inspection Professional

As you can see, the home inspection checklist is exhaustive (and this list doesn't even cover it all!) So if you're in the market for a new house or are in the process of purchasing a new home, make sure you have a home inspection done by a reliable home inspection company - so you can protect yourself from the unforeseen. Also periodically review the items on this home inspection checklist so you can ensure the working order of your home for years to come.