When purchasing a home, I always recommend hiring a qualified, experienced home inspector. Even with the aid of an inspector, unexpected conditions of the home you just purchased can pop up and surprise you as a homeowner. Try as they might, home inspectors do not have x-ray vision or psychic powers, and sometimes they fail to uncover an existing issue with the house. Read on for information on how best to prevent oversights during your home inspection.
- Interview potential inspectors. Ask about their experience in your specific city or suburb, whether they will get on the roof of the home, and whether they have particular expertise in child safety, environmental-friendliness, or any other special concerns. In Colorado, you’ll want someone able to give recommendations on mold or radon inspection, even if they are unable to inspect for these concerns themselves.
- Be aware of common hazards, particularly if purchasing an older home. Stair or patio railings should be 4 inches apart, but prior to the 50s and 60s, these items were produced with 6″ spacing, which is unsafe for infants, who could crawl through and fall. In addition, be on the lookout for potential safety issues like pools, fire pits and window wells. Items of this nature should have appropriate gates and covers for safety. Other hidden hazards are lead based paint in pre-1978 homes and asbestos in older walls or tile work, outdated wiring and plumbing, both of which can prove expensive if you discover after closing they are not up to code.
- Consider all current and future occupants of the home. Will infants or children live in this home with you in the future? What about elderly parents or visitors? A home that is safe and sound for you now could pose challenges if you add pets, kids or seniors to the mix.
- Bring in additional experts when necessary. Mold, radon, well, electrical, plumbing and roof inspection are all items that may require a specialized inspection beyond the scope of your inspector’s work. Any one of these can cost between $150 and $500 to complete, but consider the cost if you don’t conduct an inspection and an issue turns up. If you, your Realtor or your inspector suggests a specialty inspection, carefully consider the pros and cons. A couple hundred bucks now could save you thousands of dollars down the road.
- Consult your agent or another home expert about budgeting for repair costs. Some issues uncovered during the inspection period may be covered all, or in part, by the seller. The seller will be required to disclose material defects they become aware of during the sale process to future buyers is you cancel the transaction based on your inspection, so they may be motivated to work out the details with you. In a fast paced seller’s market, the seller still holds many of the cards and may not agree to repair or replace systems or issues in the house. Some issues may need to be fixed prior to move in, some you can pay for and repair or replace over time.
Bottom line, having a home inspection is not a guarantee that your home won’t experience issues after closing. Budgeting for potential home repairs over time is one way to prepare for issues that arise, and it is imperative that you are diligent and involved in the process of inspecting any home you are in the process of purchasing. Ask questions for clarity at every stage and if you are unsure, keep asking questions. Conduct additional inspection procedures if necessary.
If you are considering a home purchase in our lightning-speed marketplace, you’ll need an expert guide. I’ve been helping people like you buy and sell homes for over 21 years, and I’d be happy to help you navigate the challenging waters of Metro Denver real estate.
The Meyers Group