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A Home Inspection Can Save You Thousands

Purchasing a home is probably the single largest purchase you will make in your lifetime. Protect your investment by hiring a professional home inspector to examine the house before you buy.

Usually, you will have already examined a house yourself before deciding to buy it. Before signing a contract, you should be sure there is an inspection clause that makes the final purchase contingent on a satisfactory, professional home inspection. Don't confuse a home inspection with an appraisal. An appraisal determines the market value of a property. A home inspection looks at the condition of a home to uncover any potential flaws or defects that could require costly repairs. Unlike an appraisal, a home inspection is not required; however, the relatively low cost ($150-$500) is well worth the peace of mind garnered from knowing the condition of the house before you make such a large investment. The inspection should include, but not necessarily be limited to:

  • Foundation
  • Doors and windows
  • Ceilings, walls, and floors
  • Electrical wiring and plumbing
  • Heating and air conditioning systems
  • Roof and siding
  • Insulation
  • Ventilation
  • Septic tanks, sewer lines or wells

Estimated Repair Costs

If any problems are identified, the inspection report should give you an idea of how costly they would be to repair. You may use this information to get out of the contract if the problems are serious or, at least, to negotiate with the seller to adjust the purchase price or correct the problems. Keep in mind that some of the most costly repairs may not be visible. The amount of repair that is necessary, and the geographical location of your home will dictate the expenses associated with repair. The following are some typical problems and an estimate of how much the repair may cost:

  • Replace Windows $200-$600 each
  • Replace Fuse Panel $400-$800 each
  • Replace Tile Shower $2,000-$3,000
  • Install New Furnace $2,000-$4,000
  • Replace Plumbing Pipes $1,500-$3,000 per floor
  • Paint Exterior $3,000-$6,000
  • Install Perimeter Drain $4,000-$6,000
  • Underpin Foundation $1,500-$3,000 per piling (every 6 to 8 feet)

It is a good idea to accompany the inspector during the inspection. You may be able to pick up valuable information regarding the extent of a problem that might not be evident just by reading the inspection report. You may also better understand the steps needed to correct the problems, and learn how to prevent future problems through routine maintenance. An experienced home inspector can be a wealth of information. See the American Society of Home Inspectors FAQ for more information about home inspections.

Finding An Inspector

The best way to find a reliable home inspector is to ask for a reference from someone you know. Your real estate agent may also be able to provide you with a list or recommend one they have dealt with successfully in the past. The National Association of Realtors has an excellent Field Guide to Home Inspections and a search function for home inspectors. If you must resort to the Yellow Pages, make sure you check references because, in most states, home inspectors are not required to be licensed. You can also check to see if any complaints have been filed with your local consumer affairs office or Better Business Bureau.

Buying a home can be a very emotional experience, and it is easy to get caught up in the excitement when you find a house that seems perfect. Hiring a professional to conduct a home inspection will allow you to get an impartial opinion regarding the condition of your new home. This may not only save you thousands, but just may be priceless in added peace of mind! If you currently need debt help, a mortgage may compound your current problems. Use our tools to analyze your financial position before you take on more fiscal responsibility.

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