A Closer Look

By Diane Schlindwein

March 20, 2009 4 min read


Hiring a home inspector creates peace of mind

Diane Schlindwein

Creators News Service

Nearly everyone has heard horror stories of excited homeowners who have purchased their "dream home" -- only to discover they've invested in a money pit.

That's why, whether you are buying or selling a piece of property, home inspections are critical to the real estate process. It just makes good sense to hire a certified home inspector when you are either buying or selling a house, said Nick Gromicko, founder of the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors.

That person should check the roof, basement, heating system, water heater, air-conditioning system, plumbing and electricity. Depending on the area of the country, homes might be more susceptible to termites, dry rot, septic and well problems, asbestos, faulty structure or roof problems, which should also be looked at. A checkup should cost between $300 and $600.

A thorough inspection becomes paramount if a home is older or is obviously a "fixer-upper." "The older the home, the longer it takes to inspect," said Gromicko. "Most of the things that are wrong with a home were once installed correctly -- up to code. Age simply caused them to go bad."

Sara Weis, a spokesperson for the National Association of Realtors, said Realtors often have service providers who can assist you in several areas. One of those might be for a home inspector. "Keep in mind that real estate professionals should generally recommend more than one provider -- and they should tell you if they receive any compensation," she said.

Weis makes a good point, said Gromicko. "The problem with inspectors is that sometimes they have a tie to the real estate agent," he said. "Realtors tend to hire or recommend those that they know."

Sometimes it is best to do some research and hire your own. "Here's advice I gave my own sister: Call an inspector from out of town and pay him an extra $100 to come to the house," Gromicko said. "That inspector has no connections in the town. He doesn't care about anything but the inspection."

While sellers traditionally have had their home inspected after a buyer makes an offer on the property, more people are having inspections up front, said Tim Kearney, owner of B Safe Home Inspection of Illinois.

"It's called pre-inspection," said Kearney, explaining the trend first became popular in California more than five years ago. "I'd say that 30 percent of my business is now pre-inspections."

When Kearney completes a pre-inspection, he not only makes out a detailed inspection report, but he prints out a brief overview of the house. He lists seven areas of the home, the status at the time of inspection as well as comments on the specific areas. This brief and to-the-point checklist can be shown to prospective buyers.

"Usually when people are looking at a home, that is all they want to see at first, but they should eventually read the entire inspection," Kearney said. "If all houses were pre-inspected, it would be easier for buyers to make an educated and informed decision on a home purchase. In the end it really benefits both the buyer and the seller."

However, be careful about inspections, he added. "Just because a home is inspected doesn't mean everything is OK. It is always important to read the home inspection."

No matter when or who you hire, a home inspector will simply assist in evaluating the overall condition of a dwelling, Gromicko said. Remember that a home inspection will not reveal every concern that exists or could exist, but only those material defects observed on the day of inspection.

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