Myths You Mustn’t Believe About Home Inspections

There are a lot of false ideas going around about house inspections and the process and need for hiring home inspectors. Believing these myths could in many cases cost you a lot of money. So in the interest of saving you as many headaches as much cash as possible, here is the truth about some of these myths.

1) The report from the inspector serves as a list of needed repairs that the seller must address. Truth: The seller has the option of using this list as a list of repairs, or alternatively as a tool for negotiating, to help move the deal along.

2) There’s no real difference in home inspectors. Truth: A person is not qualified as a home inspector just because he or she claims the title-or even if they’re certified. In fact, some states don’t even require that an inspector have a license. Therefore, it’s essential that you examine the person’s credentials carefully, and if you’re not familiar with the certifying body, investigate them to make sure they are credible. It’s also a good idea to visit ashi.org to make sure that the inspector is a member of ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors. Finally, find out how many inspections they do in a typical year. You want to hire someone who does somewhere around 200 annually.

3) If your house is being sold “as is,” there’s no real need to hire an inspector. The truth: It doesn’t matter. An “as-is” home should still be inspected, since these houses aren’t sold totally defect-free-but rather, with defects that have been left unrepaired.

4) You don’t have to be there as the inspection takes place. Truth: While you don’t legally need to be there, it’s still best if you are. This way, you’ll learn how the various systems in your house operate, and you’ll also gain a greater knowledge of the exact condition of the home. Also, it’s easier to ask both the inspector and seller questions if you’re there at the time.

5) Homes that are newly built don’t really need to be inspected. Truth: According to a recent investigation conducted by CONSUMER REPORTS magazine, about 15 percent of newly-constructed homes are sold with serious flaws. Another study found that 41 percent of new houses had problems like moisture and mold, while about 34 percent had structural / frame issues.

6) Most houses only really need a termite inspection. Truth: While home inspectors do check for termite damage, there are many more potential problems than just these pesky bugs. A good home inspector will examine the house’s overall structure, the electricity, plumbing, central air and heating, and structural problems.

7) All you really need is a qualified person to give you an assessment of the property’s condition; a professional inspector is not needed. Truth: Unlike the so-called “qualified person,” a professional inspector will log his or her findings in a legal, written document. This becomes a formal and factual statement of everything discovered about the property. Legally, this is much more forceful than an oral assessment that has no written documentation to back it up.

8) It’s enough to have a general contractor conduct an informal home inspection. Truth: There are many states that legally prohibit a general contractor from performing home inspections. Since this person will likely be performing the repairs that are to be done, it is considered a conflict of interest. While it’s true that a contractor is often qualified to make the same assessments as a professional home inspector, the inspector has a knowledge of mechanical, plumbing, fire safety and electrical issues for a variety of structures, in a variety of ages, that the contractor might not. He also often knows building codes better than the contractor. Most importantly, his future work will not depend on how many problems he finds with your property-as the contractor’s might.

9) If the property has recently been appraised, or if I intend to have it appraised before purchase, there’s no need to have it inspected. Truth: While an appraiser can be expected to call your attention to major problems associated with the house and property (for instance, a foundation that appears to be cracking), they normally will not have the training that the home inspector has. As a result, they normally will not do a job that is as complete or detailed. You can almost certainly be sure, for instance, that they’re not going to make a trip to the rooftop to examine the structure up there.

10) Taking a walkthrough through the house and around the property serves the same purpose as a home inspection. Truth: No home-buyer should consider a walkthrough a replacement for a formal inspection. A walkthrough will provide you the chance to verify that things which the home inspector recommended has actually been done. But the inspection should take place several weeks (or possibly months) before the close, while the walkthrough occurs a few days before closing. So let’s repeat this principle: the walkthrough is a chance to make sure that repairs which the inspector suggested have been done; it is not a chance for the inspection itself. The reason is obvious: If the walkthrough is the first time that major problems are seen, there is little or no time to have them fixed before the scheduled closing. But even more importantly, the inspection is conducted by an objective third party-someone who is trained to see things that you might otherwise miss. A walkthrough is normally just you and the seller, neither of whom is probably as qualified to evaluate a structure as the inspector. Add to that the fact that the walkthrough normally moves rather quickly and you have a situation that is not at all conducive to a thorough examination of the property. So leave it to the professional to find those things that might cost you in the future. It might cost you a few dollars now for the inspection process, but not nearly as much as the damage to the house might cost you if you miss something important.