The purchase of a home is one of the biggest investments people will make in their lifetimes, but it is also among the greatest sources of anxiety. A professional home inspection by a licensed home inspector helps ensure homebuyers of the quality of their investment by helping them better assess the condition of the home and alerting them to any concerns. This can serve to relieve stress, increase confidence and even reduce the threat of legal action in the future.
A licensed home inspector evaluates the common components and systems of the home you are considering buying or selling, and then produces a comprehensive report documenting his or her findings. The components and systems include:
- Exterior Components – wall surfaces and trim; eaves, soffits and fascia; exterior doors and windows: decks, balconies, stoops, steps, porches and railings; vegetation, grading, drainage & retaining walls; walkways, patios and driveways; and garage door systems
- Roofing System Components – surface materials; drainage systems; flashings; skylights; chimney exteriors; and other roof penetrations
- Structural Components – foundations; floors; walls; ceilings; and roofs
- Electrical System Components – service entrances and panels; main disconnects; grounding; branch circuit wiring; breakers/fuses; connected devices and fixtures; polarity & grounding of receptacles; and the operation of GFCIs
- Plumbing System Components – water supply & distribution systems; fixtures & faucets; drain, waste & vent systems; water heating systems; combustion vent systems; fuel distribution systems and shutoff identification; drainage sumps, sump pumps and piping; and the identification of main water shutoffs
- Heating System Components – installed heating equipment; distribution systems; normal operating controls; identification of emergency shutoffs; chimneys, flues and vents; fuel storage tanks; and the verification of a heat source in each room
- Cooling System Components -installed cooling and air handling equipment; normal operating controls; and the verification of a cooling source in each room
- Interior Components & Appliances – interior walls, ceilings and floors; interior steps, stairways and railings; kitchen counters and cabinets; interior doors and window interiors; garage components; and installed appliances
- Fireplaces and Solid Fuel Burning Appliances – fireplaces and solid fuel burning appliances; chimney and combustion vent exteriors
- Insulation and Ventilation Components – attic and under floor insulation; vapor retarders, attic and foundation ventilation; ventilation fans and thermostatic controls; and kitchen bath and laundry venting systems
Some of the most notable benefits of a professional home inspection include:
- Increased Knowledge – By better understanding exactly what you’re buying, old or new.
- Greater Peace of Mind – In knowing that the inspection will assist you in making a sound buying decision.
- Potential Savings – By revealing the need for repairs or replacements before you buy.
- Fewer Surprises – By limiting the number of problems you may discover after moving in.
- Homeowner Education – By providing you invaluable details about your new home in addition to information about the condition of the property. You’ll learn where the main shutoff valves to the utilities are located, how the house operates and more!
Are Home Inspections Required?
Home inspections are an extra expense and are optional in New Jersey, so do you really need one? The answer is: YES – Money might be tight, but try to imagine moving in and finding out that there are plumbing issues, or that portions of the electrical system are substandard, or that the chimney needs immediate repairs. Experienced inspectors know exactly what to look for. They usually know all the little quick-fix tricks, too, and will tell you if they find cover-up attempts.
What if the Inspection Uncovers Problems?
Your offer to purchase a home should include a home inspection contingency, ensuring your rights to a home inspection and to address the inspections findings. It’s important to realize that the seller may not agree to make every repair or replacement that you ask for, or they may refuse to make any repairs at all. It is important that you read your contract carefully before signing it, so that you understand the rights and obligations of all parties. Agreements must be in writing and signed by the buyer and seller, never rely on a verbal agreement.
Still think you can do without an inspection?
A licensed professional inspector is in the best position to evaluate your new home, and can help you avoid these common home inspections mistakes:
- “My brother can do it.” Some people truly do have a friend or family member who can perform an inspection. But even though your brother may have some building experience, he may not have the equipment or expertise required to do a thorough evaluation of all of the homes systems and components. What if he misses a major problem? Will it create hard feelings within the family?
- “I’m in love with this house.” So much in love that you’re ignoring problems? An inspector takes a clinical look at the house. You’ll get only the facts, and that’s what you need to make decisions about going forward with the purchase.
- “I don’t care what the problems are, I want this house.” If that’s true go ahead. You’re the only one who can determine how much time, energy and money you can devote to the house. But keep in mind that an inspection that uncovers safety issues can help you prioritize repairs.
- “It’s a brand new home. There won’t be any problems.” Maybe in a perfect world, but new construction isn’t always problem-free.
Plan on a professional home inspection lasting two to three hours. You should make every effort to attend the inspection to get a firsthand explanation of the inspector’s findings and, if necessary, ask questions. This will afford you the opportunity to better understand any problems the inspector uncovers. It is always better to see problems in person, instead of relying solely on photos in a report. Although a licensed home inspection will initially cost you a little bit of time and money, in the long run you’ll be glad you had it done. If you are a first-time homebuyer, an inspection can also provide you a crash course in home maintenance and a checklist of items that need attention to make your home as safe and sound as possible. Don’t skip this important step in the home-buying process – it’s worth every penny.
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