Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Are you getting what you paid for from your Home Inspector?

Be sure when investing money into a home inspector that you not only check their credentials that you know what kind of report you are going to get. There are different kinds used by inspectors -- hand written checklist, computer generated (using inspection programs) and the descriptive style.
Some reports are delivered via e-mail, some on the date of inspection and some may take as long as a week (be sure to include this time in your deadlines). All styles have their pros and cons.
The most important thing you should look for is a description of each item inspected. Even though a report that states the items condition is accceptable without the descriptive style can be vague and misunderstood by all
Here is an example of the different styles:
Written Checklist
Bathroom Sink Area: Condition - Good, Fair, or Poor.
The above does nothing to explain the condition of the sink and anyone can do this why pay for the inspection? This type of report style begs you to ask questions such as does the sink have a cosmetic problem? Does the home have a plumbing problem? Has there been water damage?
A good report should provide you with information regarding the condition of the sink and any reccomondations to fix or preventative maintenance to be done.
Descriptive Style:
Bathroom Sink Area: Condition - Minor wear, heavy wear, damaged, rust stains, or chips in enamel finish. Recommend sealing sink at counter top.
As you can see, this description includes a recommendation for repair. Descriptive reports without recommendations for repairing deficient items may be had for the construction novice to understand and you should ask the inspector for clarification.
Computer Generated
Bathroom Sink Area: Condition - New, Minor wear, heavy wear, damaged, rusted, chips in enamel, caulking. Recommend that caulking be completed around the sink to prevent water damage to countertop.
These are just a few of the basic types of inspections available to the consumer. Make sure you take the time and become familiar with the type of report that is being provided to you. Should the report have a legend, key, symbols or icons, read and understand them thoroughly. The more information provided about the site and home, the easier to understand the overall condition. After the inspection there should be question and answer opportunity between you and the inspector IF THERE IS SOMETHING YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND...ASK this is the opportunity to ask questions regarding terms or conditions that you may not be familiar with. A good inspector should be able to explain the answers to your questions. If for some reason a question cannot be answered at the time of the inspection, the inspector should research the question and obtain the answer for you. For instance, if the inspector's report states that the concrete foundation has common cracks, be sure to ask, "Why are they common?" The answer you should receive will be along these lines: common cracks are usually due to normal concrete curing and or shrinkage. The inspector's knowledge and experience is how the size and characteristics of the cracking is determined.
I recommend that you accompany your inspector through the entire inspection if possible. This helps you to understand the condition of the home and the details of the report.
Read the report completely and understand the condition of the home you are about to purchase. After all, it is most likely one of the largest investments you will ever make.

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