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Are Home Inspections Necessary?

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What is a Home Inspection?

A home inspection is an examination of the physical structure and systems of a house or apartment to determine its condition and identify any potential issues or defects. During a home inspection, a professional home inspector thoroughly inspects the property and provides a detailed written report of their findings.

Some key things a home inspector will look at include:

Structural Components

  • Foundation and basement
  • Walls, floors, roof and attic
  • Doors, windows, and ceilings
  • Porches, decks, and balconies

Systems

  • Plumbing system and fixtures
  • Electrical system, outlets, and wiring
  • Heating and cooling systems
  • Ventilation and insulation
  • Major appliances

Other Areas

  • Interior rooms and finishes
  • Exterior siding, trim, drainage
  • Garage, driveways, walkways
  • Pool/spa, irrigation, landscaping

The home inspector will test functionality, examine for damage or deterioration, and evaluate if systems are safe, adequate for the home, and in working order. The inspection report will outline any deficiencies found and indicate if a professional repair or further evaluation is recommended.

Why Get a Home Inspection?

There are several important reasons why it is highly recommended to get a professional St Louis home Inspection when buying a home:

Identify Potential Issues Before Purchase

A home inspection allows buyers to evaluate the current condition of the home and understand any defects, problems or required repairs before completing the purchase. Without an inspection, serious and costly issues may go unnoticed.

Inform Negotiations

If issues are uncovered in the inspection report, buyers can use this information to request the seller make repairs, lower the price, or offer closing credits. Knowing a home’s faults ahead of time improves buyers’ negotiation power.

Avoid Surprises After Moving In

There is nothing worse than moving into a new home and quickly finding major issues that require expensive repairs. Home inspections reduce the risk of post-purchase surprises and unexpected costs.

Understand Systems Functionality

Home inspectors test and assess the functionality of plumbing, electrical, HVAC and other home systems. Buyers will learn if systems are in good working order or need repairs.

Evaluate Safety Issues

Inspectors look for safety hazards such as risks of electrical fires, carbon monoxide leaks, mold, radon and more. Identifying these safety concerns in advance allows buyers to make corrections before moving in.

Learn Maintenance Requirements

The inspection report provides home buyers with a better understanding of maintenance needs and useful life expectancy information for the roof, appliances, systems, etc. This allows planning for future repairs and replacements.

Validate Work Was Done Properly

An inspection verifies that work was completed properly and up to code for newer homes or those recently renovated, giving buyers peace of mind.

Review Inspector Expertise

Inspectors are knowledgeable professionals who know what common problems to look for in a given home style, age, location, etc. Their objective expertise is extremely valuable for buyers.

What Does a Home Inspector Check?

Home inspectors conduct an extensive top-to-bottom examination of the physical property. Here’s an overview of the major features, areas, and systems inspectors will evaluate:

Roof and Attic

  • Roof age, condition, and estimated life remaining
  • Signs of leaks, damage, or improper repairs
  • Attic ventilation, insulation, and conditions
  • Flashing, drip edge, and other roof connections

Exterior

  • Condition of siding, trim, paint, caulking, masonry, etc.
  • Windows, doors, decks, porches, railings
  • Driveways, walkways, patios, fencing and retaining walls
  • Grading, drainage and landscaping

Structure

  • Foundation, basement, crawlspace
  • Walls, floors, ceilings, framing
  • Doors, windows
  • Chimneys and fireplaces
  • Evidence of present or past water penetration

Plumbing

  • Condition of supply pipes and drain lines
  • Functioning of fixtures (toilets, sinks, showers, tubs)
  • Water pressure, leaks, clogs or signs of damage
  • Water heater(s) age, capacity and condition

Electrical

  • Main service panel, wiring, breaker box(es)
  • Outlets, switches, fixtures
  • Grounding, amperage, voltage
  • Safety hazards, loose wires, cover plates

HVAC

  • Heating and cooling equipment age and condition
  • Ductwork, distribution, returns
  • Thermostats, filters, blowers, flues
  • Chimneys and gas lines
  • Signs of leaks, damage or improper repairs

Interiors

  • Walls, ceilings, floors, doors, windows, railings
  • Evidence of leakage, damage or settling
  • Condition of kitchen cabinets and appliances
  • Bathroom fixtures and ventilation

Garage

  • Walls, ceiling, floors
  • Overhead doors and openers
  • Electrical, plumbing, HVAC

Pools/Hot Tubs

  • Condition of liners, pumps
  • Leakage, damage
  • Electrical and gas hookups
  • Proper fencing and childproofing

Miscellaneous

  • Smoke alarms, CO detectors, sprinkler systems
  • Vent fans, appliances, doorbells
  • Wireless alarms, intercoms
  • Anything else that doesn’t operate properly!

What Does the Home Inspection Report Include?

The home inspection report provides detailed documentation of the inspector’s findings. Expect it to contain the following:

Overview of Inspected Systems and Components

Lists all areas examined (roof, structure, electrical, plumbing, HVAC, etc.)

Description of Property Conditions

Thorough narrative of the current condition of the home, positive and negative findings.

Photo Documentation

Pictures of any identified concerns, defects, improper installation, or necessary repairs.

Action Items/Recommendations

List of any items needing repair or further professional evaluation.

Estimated Costs

May provide general cost estimates for larger repairs required.

Life Expectancy Estimates

Expected remaining useful life of major components like the roof and HVAC system.

Prioritized To-Do List

Inspector may list action items and repairs in order of importance.

Summary Assessment

Brief statement of overall condition of home. Any major areas of concern?

Inspector Credentials

Information about inspection company and inspector’s qualifications.

The report provides buyers a detailed snapshot of the home’s current physical condition to inform the purchase.

How Much Does a Home Inspection Cost?

Home inspection costs can vary depending on the size and location of the property, as well as the experience of the inspector. Typical inspection fees range from $300-$500, but can be higher in some markets.

Here are some factors that influence the cost:

  • Size of the home – Larger homes take more time and cost more.
  • Location – Inspections in major metro areas are generally more expensive.
  • Age of home – More complex older homes may have a higher fee.
  • Scope of inspection – Extra services like sewer scopes, mold tests, etc. add costs.
  • Insurance requirements – Some states require inspectors to carry errors and omissions insurance.
  • Experience of inspector – Highly experienced inspectors can charge more.

Many inspectors charge a flat fee based on average home size in their area. It’s a good idea to get quotes from 2-3 inspectorsto compare. Most provide free no-obligation estimates.

Inspection fees are typically paid after the inspection is completed. Home buyers sometimes share the cost with their real estate agent. Overall the expense is minor considering the value gained from the inspection report.

When Should a Home Inspection Occur?

It’s ideal to have the home inspection completed after an offer is made but before closing. This allows buyers to request repairs or credits for any issues found before finalizing the purchase.

Typical inspection timing includes:

  • After the offer is accepted.
  • During the inspection contingency period.
  • Prior to the financing and appraisal contingency dates.
  • After utilities are activated at the property.
  • Before any major renovations or repairs begin.

Allow 1-2 weeks after offer acceptance for the inspection and to receive the full report. This gives adequate time to review findings and negotiate with the seller if needed.

It’s best not to conduct the inspection before making an offer, as the buyer would be unaware of any defects before starting negotiations or making a bid price.

How to Prepare for a Home Inspection

Proper preparation helps ensure the inspection goes smoothly:

Communicate Access Needs

Provide the listing agent details on what utilities and areas need to be accessible. The water, electric, and gas should be on.

Clear Access to Key Components

Make sure attics, crawlspaces, electric panels, etc. are easy to access without obstructions.

Secure Pets Beforehand

Dogs should be contained away from the inspector.

Review the Property Yourself First

Make notes of anything you want the inspector to check or explain.

Meet the Inspector at the Home

This allows you to ask questions and get live explanations during the inspection.

Take Your Own Photos

Visual records are useful, especially for disclosing inspection findings to the seller.

Do a Final Walkthrough After

Look for any issues the inspector may have missed.

Thorough preparation gets buyers the maximum benefit from the professional inspection.

Can a Home Inspection Be Waived?

Home inspections can legally be waived if both parties agree. However, waiving the home inspection is not recommended in most real estate transactions.

Here’s why inspection waivers should be avoided:

  • Lack of Information – Without an inspection report, the buyer enters the purchase unaware of existing property conditions and risks inheriting expense, safety issues and headaches.
  • No Negotiation Power – Buyers forfeit the ability to re-negotiate price or ask sellers for repairs when unknown defects are found later on.
  • Risk of Surprises – Major undiscovered problems can surface shortly after closing, leaving new homeowners to pay the price.
  • Inability to Back Out – If issues do arise later, buyers have no contingency exit and are stuck closing the deal.
  • False Assumptions – It’s faulty to assume a visibly nice home has no subsurface or inner problems. Only an inspection can verify.
  • Invalidates Financing – Most lenders require an inspection to approve financing. Waiving it may nullify the loan.

While it’s possible to forgo a home inspection, all the drawbacks make it an extremely risky proposition for buyers.

Are Pre-Listing Home Inspections Useful?

Sellers sometimes choose to get a home inspection done themselves before listing their property on the market. Here are pros and cons of pre-listing inspections:

Potential Advantages

  • Allows making repairs proactively to maximize listing price.
  • Surfacing issues early provides time for proper corrections.
  • Shows buyers the seller has nothing to hide.
  • Limits nasty surprises derailing a deal later on.
  • Inspection issues can be priced into the listing.
  • Saves hassle of negotiating defects post-offer.
  • Potentially avoids re-inspection by buyers.

Potential Disadvantages

  • Costs the seller directly when issues may never surface.
  • Inspection may reveal problems the seller can’t afford to fix.
  • Some buyers will re-inspect anyway.
  • Seller has no control over inspector chosen.
  • May hurt leverage depending on severity of findings.
  • Costly repairs could exceed any boost in selling price.

Pre-listing inspections can provide useful insights to sellers, but also carry risks. Sellers should carefully weigh the pros and cons when deciding if it’s beneficial for their situation.

Can Home Inspectors Check for Mold?

Home inspectors are not mold inspectors. Mold inspection and testing requires specific expertise and equipment.

However, home inspectors are trained to spot visual signs of excessive moisture, water leaks, and conditions conducive to mold growth.

Their inspection report will alert buyers to areas at higher risk for mold so it can be addressed. Typical ways inspectors may indicate mold problems:

  • Noting water stains or musty smells in basement or crawlspace.
  • Finding building materials or surfaces with mold-like appearance.
  • Identifying humidity, leaks, or drainage issues ripe for mold.
  • Warning if freshly painted walls may be concealing mold.
  • Suggesting evaluation by a certified mold inspector.

If the home inspection uncovers concerning signs of water intrusion or mold growth, it’s smart to follow up with mold testing and a professional mold remediation company.

Are Stucco Inspections Recommended?

Stucco building exteriors require specialized testing beyond the standard home inspection. Two recommended stucco inspections include:

Stucco Moisture Testing

Looks for leaks and moisture intrusion issues behind the stucco surface:

  • Involves drilling small holes and using a moisture sensor.
  • Can identify water getting behind stucco and into walls.
  • High moisture is conducive to mold, wood rot and pests.

Stucco Wall Scan

Uses infrared thermography to scan for issues underneath the stucco:

  • Detects voids, cracks, and areas lacking insulation.
  • Identifies leaks and moisture indoors caused by failed stucco.
  • Done by certified thermographers.

Stucco siding is prone to getting breached by moisture over time. Stucco-specific inspections provide important information on the integrity of the stucco building envelope.

Should New Construction Homes Be Inspected?

Absolutely. Inspection of new construction homes before closing is highly recommended.

While brand new homes may seem flawless, an impartial inspection can catch issues the average homebuyer would miss. Advantages of new construction inspections:

Identifies Any Defects Early

An inspector will spot shortcuts, sloppy work, or code violations during construction. Issues get fixed before completion.

Verifies Quality of Workmanship

Inspectors evaluate that carpentry, finishes, paint, tile and other work meet standards. Shoddy work gets redone.

Checks Adherence to Plans

Confirms home is built according to the approved plans without unauthorized changes.

Provides Oversight Between Stages

Inspector visits at each build stage to check framing, electrical, plumbing, insulation, etc.

Ensures Utilities Function Properly

Inspector tests appliances, HVAC, electric and plumbing systems under load.

Catches Missed Requirements

Builder oversights like missing insulation or firestops get noticed.

Professional inspection gives new construction buyers assurance of quality and code compliance from an objective third party. Smart buyers make it a mandatory step.

Do I Need a Specialist for Old House Inspections?

There are benefits to using a specialist for inspection of older historic homes:

Knowledge of Older Systems

  • Familiar with older electrical, plumbing, heating systems.
  • Understands outdated or obsolete components.
  • Look for signs of improper renovations or replacements.

Eye for Original Materials

  • Spot damage, deterioration and improper repairs.
  • Recognize inherent flaws and vulnerabilities in original materials.
  • Verify additions/remodels used period appropriate materials.

Experience Tracing Issues

  • Discover underlying root causes, not just surface symptoms.
  • More adept tracking problems through complex older homes.

Awareness of Typical Flaws

  • Knows common issues to focus on for a home’s age and style.
  • Checks predictable problem spots.

There’s great benefit to matching a specialist inspector with the unique demands of older and historic homes.

Do I Need a Pest Inspection?

Home buyers will want to get a pest inspection in addition to the standard home inspection. While home inspectors do look for visible insect damage and conducive conditions, they don’t provide the thoroughness of a proper pest inspection.

Key reasons to get a pest inspection:

Detect Wood Destroying Pests

Inspectors check for termites, carpenter ants, wood boring beetles. etc. Home inspectors often miss these.

Find Existing Damage

Identify if pests have already damaged wood structure, siding, decking, etc.

Notice Conducive Conditions

Evaluate moisture issues, wood-soil contact, and other problems attracting pests.

Assess Treatment Needs

Determine if prior treatment was done. Recommend new treatment if evidence of infestation.

Provide Cost Estimates

If treatment is needed, inspector provides quotes for service plans.

Warranty or Service Plan

Often includes 1 year warranty or service plan for pest control treatment.

For new peace of mind about hidden invaders, a pest inspection is highly recommended for home buyers.

Do First-Time Home Buyers Really Need an Inspection?

Home inspections are especially important for first-time home buyers. New buyers are understandably more trusting of agents and sellers. Without experience owning a home previously, it’s hard for them to spot subtle warning signs of an inspection gone wrong. First-time buyers will benefit from an inspection in these ways:

Catches Health and Safety Issues

Inspector may uncover electrical, fire, mold, ventilation and other hazards new owners may miss. This allows first-timers to avoid safety risks and request fixes before moving in.

Helps Learn Home Systems

Inspections teach new buyers about electrical, HVAC and plumbing systems. First-timers can see how systems work and proper maintenance needed.

Sets Realistic Repair Budget

Instead of nasty surprises down the road, buyers get a repair estimate upfront to plan for.

Offers Objective Insight

New buyers don’t always know the right questions to ask or

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things to look for when evaluating a home’s condition. The inspector’s expert perspective is invaluable.

Reduces Risk

Every house has defects, even if minor. Inspection reports allow first-time buyers to enter ownership with eyes wide open instead of idealistic assumptions.

Provides Documentation

Written report provides new owners useful documentation of the home’s condition at time of sale. This comes in handy down the road when systems eventually need repair or replacement.

Brings Peace of Mind

Thorough inspection eases fears and anxieties first-time buyers may feel about tackling the responsibilities of home ownership.

Professional home inspection gives novice home buyers essential education, protection, and assurance during an exciting but stressful life milestone. It serves as their mentor until they become experts themselves. For first-timers, home inspections are absolutely a must.

In Summary

A pre-purchase professional home inspection provides vital information to inform and protect home buyers’ interests. For a small investment, buyers gain expert insight into a property’s physical condition, learn of any issues needing correction, and boost their negotiation leverage. Identifying problems in advance prevents expensive surprises after purchase and improves financial planning for future repairs. Given the huge commitment when buying a home, a quality home inspection is extremely wise due diligence for any real estate transaction. Home inspections add safety, value and peace of mind.

 

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