Whether you’re buying or selling a real estate property it’s a good idea to be familiar with the Home Inspection process. For this topic I will be focusing on a General Residential Inspection.
So, what is a home inspection? The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) Standard of Practice define a home inspection as follows:
"A general home inspection is a non-invasive, visual examination of the accessible areas of a residential property performed for a fee, which is designed to identify defects within specific systems and components defined by these Standards that are both observed and deemed material by the inspector. The scope of work may be modified by the Client and Inspector prior to the inspection process.
-The general home inspection is based on the observations made on the date of the inspection, and not a prediction of future conditions.
-The general home inspection will not reveal every issue that exists or ever could exist, but only those material defects observed on the date of the inspection."
In a nutshell, a home inspection is a visual examination of the different components of the house in order to identify Material Defects that may affect the value of the property and/or posses an unreasonable risk to people. There is no pass or fail grade on a Home Inspection, the inspector is only identifying material defects noted on the day of the inspection. The identified defects and/or any other findings will then be presented on a Home Inspection Report. The home inspection report format varies depending on the Inspection Company and Standard of Practice (SOP) that’s being followed for the Home Inspection. There are companies that only show a check list of items inspected and maybe a short comment on the defects and findings, others might include pictures on the report with a more detail explanation and maybe suggestions, the report can also (not recommended) be a verbal report with the inspector just pointing out the findings to the client.
When a home inspector is hired he/she will conduct the inspection according to the SOP specified in the inspection agreement. The SOP is established by the state (if in a state that requires home inspectors to be licensed) or by a Home Inspector Association (InterNACHI, ASHI, ect.). SOP’s varies slightly from state to state and/or Association, so it’s a good practice to become familiar with the SOP that will be followed. It’s also a good idea to verify the home inspector’s credentials, especially if your state does not require home inspectors to be licensed.
Home selling and/or buying is stressful to all parties involved and home inspections are part of the process. There are several suggestions in order to have a smooth Home Inspection whether you're a buyer or a seller. Its a good idea to be familiar with what needs to be done before, during, and after the Home Inspection, that way the process will be more efficient for everyone involved.
In conclusion, when hiring a Home Inspection Company to conduct a home inspection on a big investment like a house, ask questions such as: Does the state require home inspectors to be licensed? Does the inspector have a good standing license with the state? Is the inspector member of a recognized Home Inspector Association? And, has the inspector met the requirements to be certified by the Home Inspector Association? Also, visit the home inspection company website and find out as much as you can; do they have a sample Inspection Report and Inspection Agreement? What are their fees, warranties, guaranties, any additional ancillary services that can be added to the inspection (pool and spa, pest inspection, etc…). And very important, is the Inspection Company Insured? The Inspector will be going into attics, crawl spaces, checking the electrical system and climbing ladders make sure they have a good liability and errors/omissions insurance in order to cover everyone involved in the transaction.