HOME INSPECTION AND YOU
From the American Society of Home Inspectors, Inc.
Q. WHAT IS A "HOME INSPECTION"?
A home inspection is an objective visual examination of the
physical structure and systems of a home, from the roof to the foundation.
Having a home inspected is like giving it a physical check-up. If problems or
symptoms are found, the inspector may recommend further evaluation.
Q. WHAT DOES IT INCLUDE?
The standard home inspector's report will review the condition
of the home's heating system, central air conditioning system (temperature
permitting), interior plumbing and electrical systems; the roof, attic, and
visible insulation; walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors; the foundation,
basement, and visible structure.
Q. WHY DO I NEED A HOME
The purchase of a home is probably the largest single
investment you will ever make. You should learn as much as you can about the
condition of the property and the need for any major repairs before
you buy, so that you can minimize unpleasant surprises and difficulties
Of course, a home inspection also points out the positive
aspects of a home, as well as the maintenance that will be necessary to keep it
in good shape. After the inspection, you will have a much clearer understanding
of the property you are about to purchase.
If you are already a home owner, a home inspection may be used
to identify problems in the making and to learn preventive measures which might
avoid costly future repairs. If you are planning to sell your home, you may wish
to have an inspection prior to placing your home on the market. This will give
you a better understanding of conditions which may be discovered by the buyer's
inspector, and an opportunity to make repairs that will put the house in better
Q. WHAT WILL IT COST?
The inspection fee for a typical one-family house varies
geographically, as does the cost of housing. Similarly, within a given area, the
inspection fee may vary depending upon the size of the house, particular
features of the house, its age, and possible additional services, such as
septic, well, or radon testing. It is a good idea to check local prices on your
However, do not let cost be a factor in deciding whether or
not to have a home inspection, or in the selection of your home inspector. The
knowledge gained from an inspection is well worth the cost, and the
lowest-priced inspector is not necessarily a bargain. The inspector's
qualifications, including his experience, training, and professional
affiliations, should be the most important consideration.
Q. CAN'T I DO IT MYSELF?
Even the most experienced home owner lacks the knowledge and
expertise of a professional home inspector who has inspected hundreds, perhaps
thousands, of homes in his or her career. An inspector is familiar with the many
elements of home construction, their proper installation, and maintenance. He or
she understands how the home's systems and components are intended to function
together, as well as how and why they fail.
Above all, most buyers find it very difficult to remain
completely objective and unemotional about the house they really want, and this
may affect their judgment. For the most accurate information, it is best to
obtain an impartial third-party opinion by an expert in the field of home
Q. CAN A HOUSE FAIL
No. A professional home inspection is an examination of the
current condition of your prospective home. It is not an appraisal, which
determines market value, or a municipal inspection, which verifies local code
compliance. A home inspector, therefore, will not pass or fail a house, but
rather describe its physical condition and indicate what may need repair or
Q. HOW DO I FIND A HOME
The best source is a friend, or perhaps a business
acquaintance, who has been satisfied with and can recommend a home inspector
they have used. In addition, the names of local inspectors can be found in the
Yellow Pages where many advertise under "Building Inspection Service"
or "Home Inspection Service". Real estate agents are also generally
familiar with the service, and should be able to provide you with a list of
names from which to choose.
Whatever your referral source, you will want to make sure that
the home inspector is a Member of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) in order to be certain of his or her professional
qualifications, experience, and business ethics. A list of ASHI
Members in your area is available upon request from the Association's
Q. WHAT IS THE AMERICAN
SOCIETY OF HOME INSPECTORS?
The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI)
is the oldest and leading non-profit professional association for independent
home inspectors. Since its formation in 1976, ASHI's
"Standards of Practice" have served as the home inspector's
performance guideline, universally recognized and accepted by professional and
government authorities alike. Copies of the Standards are available free from
ASHI's professional Code of Ethics prohibits
Members from engaging in conflict of interest activities which might compromise
their objectivity. This is the consumer's assurance that the inspector will not,
for example, use the inspection to solicit or refer repair work.
In order to assist home inspectors in furthering their
education, ASHI sponsors a number of technical seminars and
workshops throughout the year, often in cooperation with one of its nearly 50
Chapters. ASHI also serves as a public interest group by providing
accurate and helpful consumer information to home buyers on home purchasing and
Q. WHO BELONGS TO ASHI?
Members of ASHI are independent professional home
inspectors who have met the most rigorous technical and experience requirements
in effect today. To become an ASHI Member, an inspector must pass
two written technical exams, have performed a minimum of 250 professional
fee-paid home inspections, and maintained his or her candidate status for no
less than six months. ASHI Members are required to follow the
Society's Code of Ethics, and to obtain continuing education credits in order to
keep current with the latest in building technology, materials, and professional
Q. WHEN DO I CALL IN THE HOME
A home inspector is typically contacted right after the
contract or purchase agreement has been signed, and is often available within a
few days. However, before you sign, be sure that there is an
inspection clause in the contract, making your purchase obligation contingent
upon the findings of a professional home inspection. This clause should specify
the terms to which both the buyer and seller are obligated.
Q. DO I HAVE TO BE THERE?
It is not necessary for you to be present for the inspection,
but it is recommended. You will be able to observe the inspector
and ask questions directly, as you learn about the condition of the home, how
its systems work, and how to maintain it. You will also find the written report
easier to understand if you've seen the property first-hand through the
Q. WHAT IF THE REPORT REVEALS
No house is perfect. If the inspector identifies problems, it
doesn't necessarily mean you shouldn't buy the house, only that you will know in
advance what to expect. A seller may adjust the purchase price or contract terms
if major problems are found. If your budget is tight, or if you don't wish to
become involved in future repair work, this information will be extremely
important to you.
Q. IF THE HOUSE PROVES TO BE
IN GOOD CONDITION, DID I REALLY NEED AN INSPECTION?
Definitely. Now you can complete your home purchase with your
eyes open as to the condition of the property and all its equipment and systems.
You will also have learned many things about your new home from the inspector's
written report, and will want to keep that information for future reference.