Leave Home Inspection to Professionals
2006 Chairman of the San Antonio Board of Realtors Inc.
If you are looking to buy or sell property in the next few months, take my advice have it inspected by a qualified professional. Rumor has it that do-it-yourself inspection kits are gaining in popularity. But if you choose to inspect it yourself, I’d say prepare for the worst.
If you’re a home buyer, inspecting the property will help you identify potential problems and might also cue you to preventative measures, avoiding costly future repairs. If you intend to sell your home, an inspection prior to putting it on the market will give you a clear picture of what may be discovered by a buyer’s inspector. And also provides you an opportunity to make any necessary repairs – potentially adding value to your home and making it more attractive to prospective buyers. What is an inspector?
Some consumers may consider home inspections an added, even unnecessary cost. You may be thinking you can do this yourself, or brother-in-law (the carpenter) can do it for you. Think again. Home inspections are not as simple as they might appear. There’s a lot more to do than downloading a form and checking things off.
While some do-it-yourselfers might have you believe that, it’s important to ask yourself if you really have the training, knowledge and expertise to truly understand the home’s systems and components. You should also remember that trained professionals provide objective insight into the property’s condition. In doing it yourself, you may find it difficult to remove all your biases.
A standard home inspection looks at the condition of the home’s HVAC system, electrical systems, interior plumbing, roof, attic, walls, ceilings, floors, windows, doors, foundation, basement and insulation. While all of these are crucial to the overall quality of the home, I want to emphasize the importance of knowing how to properly analyze the structural foundation.
Texas droughts and floods can wreak havoc on a home’s foundation. The earth may be too dry or too wet, forcing the property to shift and leading to potential cracks in the foundation, which can cost you thousands of dollars. If you inspect the home yourself, would you feel comfortable making an educated decision about the home’s foundation?
Professional inspectors are also trained to know when to defer to a specialist – like a structural engineer. While some inspectors may also be qualified to conduct mold, radon and water testing, most standard inspections do not include those additional services. Of deeper questions arise during a home inspection, such as a potentially hazardous environmental issue; professional inspectors will direct you to the appropriate expert.
What’s the cost?
Home inspections typically cost somewhere between $200 and $700, depending on the home’s size and features and its age. That is a small amount to pay to help you sleep better at night. Stories abound of buyers who failed to have their home professionally inspected only to later spend enormous amounts of money repairing the items that a good home inspector would have pointed out.
As a seller, spending this money upfront allows you to make certain repairs before putting your home on the market, eliminates any last-minute surprises and places you in the best negotiating position possible.
Do it twice.
Do-it-yourself home inspection kits may have some redeeming qualities. They can be very useful in arming you with the tools necessary to make an educated decision about the condition of a property before calling in the professionals. While these kits vary, most provide you with a step-by-step approach to evaluating the basic attributes of the home, including its distinguishing features, what potential problems (the visible ones of course) may exist and how this property compares to other homes you are considering. But it’s important to understand that a consumer home inspection kit should not replace a whole-house inspection but a licensed professional.
Realtors have more information about how to benefit from a home inspection during the buying or selling process. For more information, visit TexasRealEstate.com.
San Antonio Express News
March 26, 2006