Buying home is one of the most exciting experiences of a young adult’s life. Visions of your future fully settled in a house that is completely your own swirl through your mind: you picture dinners with your friends, backyard barbeques, and dozens of different design decisions you can make to truly make the place your own.
While those imaginings are delightful (and certainly possible), it’s vital that you not get ahead of yourself. Touring homes for sale should be as practical as it is fun. Ask the hard questions about maintenance, monthly upkeep costs, and previous history. Most importantly, do not make an offer if a home inspection has not been performed and is not included in the closing contract.
A House vs. A Home
All your wildest dreams and expectations for your new home mean nothing if it’s unsafe to live in. Let’s take a look at what home inspectors inspect and why it matters.
- Roof: The state of a home’s roof plays a huge role in its health. Inspectors will examine the condition of the shingles or tiles, the flashing around the chimney, and determine whether or not the overall integrity of the roof is compromised.
- Foundation: A house’s foundation is the source of its strength and stability. Inspectors will be looking at the foundation as well as the walls to ensure there are no cracks, water damage, or any other sign that could be indicative of serious maintenance costs down the road. Foundation repair is notoriously expensive, so don’t skimp on this one.
- Plumbing System: Water is a powerful force when it escapes the confines of pipes. To protect against leaks, bursts, and flooding, your home inspector will examine the state of your sinks, toilets, bathtubs, and any outdoor spigots. He’ll most likely go room by room systematically to guarantee all of these items are functioning. Since over 51% of people use hair care products every day — which can build up and clog drains if given enough time — a home inspector can protect you from costly snaking fees.
- Electrical System: By ensuring that your electrical system contains no overrated fuses, overloaded circuit breakers, or faulty connections, home inspectors keep you safe from the risk of fire. At the same time, he will make sure every connection is actually working; switches, lights, and all electrical fixtures will be tested.
The cost of just one of these components breaking down or falling apart would add a significant burden — sometimes into the tens of thousands of dollars — to new homeowners, explaining why 90% of homeowners believe that a home inspection is an absolute necessity.
Though this article is geared more towards adults and couples looking to buy for the first time, home inspections offer benefits to those already established as well. If you’re worried about potential future problems, or have recently come into some money and want to put it back into the house, a home inspector can perform the same duties for your current home. While the primary duty of these maintenance inspections is to identify current and possible future risks, some companies go above and beyond and will tell you ways to live more sustainably (such as by switching out your halogen lights with LEDs because they use 15% of the energy).
Think of home inspections as doctor’s appointments for buildings. Since the best way to protect such a large investment is by being proactive in its care, a little effort can go a long way.