Buying or selling a home? Either process can be stressful. In most cases, purchasing real estate is the most significant investment that you will ever make. It is supposed to give you peace of mind but often has the opposite effect. You will be asked to absorb a lot of information in a short time. This often includes a written report, a checklist, photographs, environmental reports, and what the inspector himself says during the inspection. All this, combined with the seller's disclosure and what you notice yourself, makes the experience even more overwhelming. What should you do?
Relax. Most of your inspection will be maintenance recommendations, current conditions for various systems and components, and noting minor imperfections. These are useful to know about.
However, the issues that really matter will fall into four categories:
Significant defects: an example of this would be a structural failure, plumbing leaks, dangerous electrical;
- Things that lead to significant defects: such as a small roof-flashing leak, for example;
- Things that may hinder your ability to finance: legally occupy, or insure the home; and
- Safety hazards: such as an exposed, live buss bar at the electrical panel.
Anything in these categories should be addressed. Often, a serious problem can be corrected inexpensively to protect both life and property (especially in categories 2 and 3). Most sellers are honest and are often surprised to learn of defects uncovered during an inspection. Realize that sellers are under no obligation to repair everything mentioned in the report. No home is perfect. Keep things in perspective. Do not kill your deal over things that do not matter. It is inappropriate to demand that a seller address deferred maintenance, conditions already listed on the seller's disclosure, or nit-picky items.
Gaining insight into the general condition of the building, significant deficiencies in any of the components, the age of its systems and corresponding life expectancies, the need for repairs and the positive attributes of the property (i.e.: new roof, low maintenance exteriors and upgrades) gives you the necessary facts to make an informed buying decision. The simple axiom is that the more you know about the property – the less your exposure to the risks inherent in purchasing the property.
As a Professional Home Inspector, we use the Texas Real Estate Commission Standards of Practice (Sections 535.227-535.233 of the Rules) which are the minimum standards for inspections by the State of Texas (TREC) licensed inspectors. An inspection addresses only those components and conditions that are present, visible, and accessible at the time of the inspection. While there may be other parts, components, or systems present, only those items expressly noted as being inspected were inspected. The inspector is not required to move furnishings or stored items. The inspection report may address issues that are code-based or may refer to a particular code; however, this is NOT a code compliance inspection and is NOT designed to verify compliance with manufacturer’s installation instructions on all items. The inspection does NOT imply insurability or warrantability of the structure or its components. Although some safety issues may be addressed in this report, this inspection is NOT a safety/code inspection, and the inspector is NOT required to identify all potential hazards.