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FACT vs. FICTION: Are Home Inspections Worth it?

Are Home Inspections Worth It? - Price vs. Value

According to the experts at Investopedia, Home inspections are an important part of determining whether a home will need additional repairs or maintenance before it’s sold or bought. But are they always worth the investment? It depends on whether the benefits of home inspection outweigh the cost. This information will help you decide.

Why Get a Home Inspection?

Home inspections are used to provide an opportunity for a buyer or seller to identify any major issues with a home prior to closing. Realtors are also known to include home inspection clauses in some situations, such as new home construction.

What is Covered in a Home Inspection?

In new home construction, inspections generally cover:

Foundations: Checking before the concrete is poured (once poured there’s very little that can be corrected).

  • Pre-drywall: Checking the structure and mechanics before the drywall is laid.
  • Full inspection: A full inspection is performed of the completed home.

Home buyers and sellers may hire local inspectors to take an in-depth look through the home’s exterior and interior, checking:

  • Bathrooms: This room will be inspected for leaks, ventilation and any other major issues. An absence of windows or fans could indicate mold or mildew problems.
  • Electrical: An inspector will check your home’s wiring, testing how the outlets and GFCI perform to prevent any shocks or potential electrocutions. They will check your electrical panel to make sure it doesn’t present a fire hazard.
  • Foundation: While the inspector usually can’t look at the foundation (because it’s underground), he or she can identify secondary issues brought on by foundation problems, such as cracks or settling.
  • Grading: If your grading doesn’t slope away from the house like it should, the inspector will let you know. Moisture seeping into your home as a result of poor grading presents a danger to your foundation and the structure itself.
  • Garage or carport: The inspector will look at your garage door to make sure that it’s operating correctly and that it’s well-ventilated (prevents carbon monoxide poisoning in the garage).
  • Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC): An inspector will check your HVAC system to see that it functions correctly. Exposed ducts will be checked for leaks or asbestos.
  • Kitchen appliances: Inspectors may will sometimes check appliances to see whether they work. Ask ahead of time if these are covered in the inspection.
  • Laundry room: The inspector will make sure this room is well-ventilated and free of fire hazards.
  • Plumbing: The inspector will check plumbing, including all faucets, showerheads and visible pipes, for leaks. He or she will also test the water pressure and the state of the main water shutoff.
  • Roof: Inspectors will check the roof for any potential damage or leaks into your attic. He or she will also check the vents and gutters for damage.
  • Walls: The inspector will look at your siding and check for missing or damaged pieces, cracks, or signs of pests underneath.

What a Home Inspection Doesn’t Cover

Home inspections are limited. Even with an inspection, you may end up with undiscovered issues you’ll have to fix down the road. Home inspections only find the “visual cues” for problems. A foundation crack, slanted floors, doors that don’t properly close -- these are signs of bigger problems. However, problems without visual cues -- pests, radon, lead -- may crop up after the inspection. Some inspectors offer radon testing as an add-on; some will recommend asbestos testing services if your home appears to be at risk.

Some areas inspectors won’t look at include:

Inside walls (won’t cut open drywall or insulation)

  • Inside pipes or sewer lines
  • Inside chimneys
  • Behind electrical panels

An inspection is also:

Not the sole determinant for buying a house: Maybe you’re willing to make some renovations on the house with these problems. The inspection will help you determine exactly how many you’ll need to do.

  • Never free and clear of problems: An inspection will always find a problem with a home. Even new home constructions will have small issues that need to be addressed.
  • Not getting all the fixes done: No seller is going to fix everything for you. They may negotiate on some of them, but expecting resolution of all is unreasonable.

Is it Worth the Investment?

The average cost to hire a home inspector is $310. This cost will vary depending on a variety of factors. Ask ahead of time how an inspector charges. The average inspection will last three hours. Always accompany your inspector on an inspection, asking questions throughout the process.

Compare this cost against the value of the home inspection. If you’re a seller, an inspection will help you understand exactly where there are problems in your home that could make or break a sale (i.e., cost you a lot of time and money and keep your home on the market for longer than it should be). If you’re a buyer, this inspection is crucial to understanding how much money you may need to spend on a home after the sale. For new home construction, it’s an imperative part of the building and finishing process. Either way, addressing issues early through a home inspection can save you tens of thousands of dollars down the road.

Read more: Are Home Inspections Worth It? - Price vs. Value | Investopedia
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