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Home Inspections 101

By Chris Burch

Whether planning to buy or sell an old or newly constructed home, one should be familiar with the home inspection process. To transfer ownership of a piece of property, even when a lender is involved, unlike an appraisal, a home inspection is not a requirement.

That said, a savvy buyer recognizes the value of having his or her home inspected by a licensed professional. An emotional buyer may base a purchase decision on the outward appearance or age of the property and choose to forgo the cost for a home inspection, which averages around $400 to $500, but is taking a chance.

General Home Inspection – According to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI): 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. Source: www.nachi.

Even with the limitations of a general home inspection, I highly recommend having one done prior to purchasing any property. In older homes and in condominium units near the Gulf, I often observe issues with water, structural, and termite damage due to poor maintenance or building age and design (especially in stucco over wood-framed structures). A home inspection may catch many items that could be costly for the new buyer to absorb in the future. Rather than merely accept an arbitrary allowance for property repairs, the buyer should order a home inspection and then send the entire list to a handyman or construction service company to price out the estimated repair or replacement costs. This can be a significant negotiation tool and will help the buyer avert purchasing a proverbial money pit.

Even when purchasing a new home, it is wise to order a home inspection. While buyers know that older homes have endured plenty of wear and tear and likely need repairs or component replacements, newer homes’ components may be just as faulty. They may never have been tested to ensure that they are in proper working order. Sometimes, issues are overlooked by the builders and subcontractors, even during final walk-throughs. If you are building a new home, for added peace of mind, consider hiring a home inspector to walk through the house during the framing stage (prior to drywall installation) and once again prior to closing and occupancy.

If you are selling your home, be proactive. If the buyer orders a home inspection and it comes back with numerous and/or expensive repair items, that buyer may opt to walk away from the sale or attempt to negotiate a price reduction based on the uncertainties of scheduling and paying for repairs. Consider ordering a home inspection prior to listing your property. By doing this you can address issues likely to be noted by the buyer’s inspector and have time to make any needed repairs. This may save you money, speed up the closing process, and alleviate stress once you have an offer on the property. Home inspections significantly reduce financial risk for all parties.

Chris Burch, MBA, owns Grand Bay Construction, LLC, and has been building on the Emerald Coast since 2005. Grand Bay Construction seeks to not only set the standard in the Gulf Coast’s construction industry, but also surpass customers’ expectations.

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