Sunday, 17 March 2013

Home Inspections 101

Because a new home is always full of little surprises...

During the excitement of buying a home, it is sometimes tough to focus on the flaws of a home as you visit house after house. We tend to look at furnishings, the color of the walls and try to picture if our furniture will fit!  One condition that is always a good idea is have in your offer to purchase is that of a home inspection. For about 3 hours, you, the home inspector and your real estate agent will spend some “quality time” in the home. (So this is not the time to bring the family!) The inspector checks all of the major systems of the home- structural, electrical, heating, plumbing, ventilation, roof, grading- everything that can be seen without opening walls. From top to bottom! Not only is the home inspector looking for problems or deficiencies, he/she will tell you how to correct what is found, and give you tips on how to maintain the systems, how to keep your home running in tip top shape for years to come.
Once the inspection is complete, the home inspector will write up a report, including all of his/ her findings, as well as suggestions offered. They will go through everything with you and you will have a written report to keep.  The home inspector should not offer an opinion as to whether or not to buy a certain home, or what should be done if a problem is found. Those are matters to discuss with your real estate agent after the home inspection.
Oh no! The inspector found….

No matter what house you buy, there will always be something that needs to be fixed, repaired, replaced.  What happens when we find a problem at a home inspection?  Well, generally speaking, if we noticed a problem before we did the offer, many times we will include that in the offer for the sellers to look after prior to possession.  If we see a garage door that is older, and  we can see that the purchase price reflects the need for renovations, and we are still willing to purchase the home, we cannot come back later and ask for money off because now we want a new door.  A home inspector will rate the things he/ she finds as normal wear & tear, minor or major deficiencies. Major things are usually those over a $2-3000. fix.  When we find something minor, like a baseboard that needs to be tacked down, or a toilet that needs tightening- most times you, as the buyer will just have those things done once you move in.  But a major item, like if the roof is found to be leaking and we were not told that in the listing, then we may go back and re-negotiate to either have the seller do the repair or allow for some monetary adjustment so you can assume the repair.  Almost every home will have grading issues, small foundation cracks, calking that needs replacing.  As a buyer, from the day you move in there will be things to put on your “to-do “ list.  A home inspection is not a tool to automatically get the price you paid down to what you really wanted to pay!  Buy we are there with you, to help from start to finish. We are on your side!
Home inspection in New Construction? But it’s brand new!

There’s nothing like walking into a brand new home! It’s a special feeling indeed!  But not many people will tell you that their year long process during the build was an easy one.  There are time sensitive decisions to be made, adjustments in mindset because of what you wanted as opposed to what you can afford, costs of upgrades that keep escalating, worries over the completion date being on time, frustration from thinking you should be getting exactly what you want and being told it can’t be done or it would cost you…
During the construction process, you may or may not be able to go on site to observe the progress. And mistakes can happen, regardless of how conscientious the builder is!  Just before you take possession, the builder’s rep will walk through the home with you, and actively look for flaws that need to be fixed before you move in. They usually let you know at that time about the 30 day report and the one year report. These are times when you are able to make a list of deficiencies and hand them to the builder to be corrected / fixed. But they are under no obligation to remind you- and if you miss the deadlines of handing in the ORE reports, you quite likely will be out of luck!
Most builders will not allow a buyer to bring in a home inspector at the initial walk through. It is understandable for several reasons: they have liability issues; a home inspection takes about 3 hours to so they would have to pay an employee to be in the home for that length of time while the inspection is being done. And as well, it is not your home yet, and at that point, with them knowing there will be deficiencies, they don ‘t want someone listing the things they already know about.  Let’s take a moment to consider what happens without a home inspection before the 30 day time limit. The builder does the repairs  you and they have noted. But on that walk through, the electrical panel and the furnace were not opened, so nothing was noted about the improper hookup that the electrician meant to get back to… or the C02 leak from the furnace. And as well no one mentioned to you that the spindles on the banister were not to code, or that there was a GCFI outlet missing from one of the bathrooms. (These are but a few of the things that our buyers have found during their home inspections). And now it is 4 years later, life has changed and you need to move. The home is sold, and the new buyer does his home inspection. And now all of those little problems are found and the buyer wants YOU to pay to have them fixed, because, after all, it’s almost a brand new house, those things should have been fixed earlier. We can tell you that for every buyer who purchased brand new construction, and we have recommended having a home inspection done within the first 3 weeks - EVERY buyer has told us they were so glad they listened, that it was well worth the cost of the inspection.  So save yourself some aggravation, stress and extra costs down the road! Have a home inspection done by a qualified inspector, within the first 2 weeks that you move in. You won’t regret it!

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