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Home Inspection: What to know before you go


     Graphic courtesy of ASHI,(American Society of Home Inspectors)

Would you have a home inspection done on a home you are about to purchase? Most Realtors will recommend it.  Even if they do not, you should definitely consider having a thorough inspection done before you purchase any property.

If a Realtor recommends a particular inspector you should ask a couple of questions. Of course, you will ask what the average cost is for an inspection of a house like the one you are about to purchase. The Realtor should be able to give you a pretty good idea.

Next, ask whether the inspector is certified. That can be a sticky question, because in Pennsylvania there is no mandatory certification law on the books for home inspectors. There is, however, a State examination for home inspectors that should, and does, lend a certain amount of credibility. The inspector, who you hire, should have credentials showing his successful completion of the Pennsylvania State examination.

There are also several national training courses that a competent inspector would have completed. The one that is respected the most, by the majority of home inspectors, is AHIT (American Home Inspectors Training Institute). They offer one of the most comprehensive training courses - one that will give an inspector the best overall knowledge of the visible and sometimes invisible problems that can exist within the home.

Also, check to see that the inspector is a member of one of the national organizations for home inspectors. If he is not member, ask why, because he may be working toward his full membership, and that, in and of itself, is satisfactory. There are a large number of qualifying inspections necessary to be able to become a full member of ASHI,(American Society of Home Inspectors), or NAHI,(National Association of Home Inspectors) -- two of the more prominent national organizations dedicated to the home inspection industry.

The fact that the inspector you are considering hiring has passed the State examination, and has completed a course given by one of the training institutes should be enough to insure you will receive a comprehensive and unbiased inspection report.  The membership in the National Organizations is a plus because you can rest assured, if he is a part of ASHI or NAHI, he is more than likely serious about his profession.

Furthermore, a competent home inspector is not looking to hurt your chances of purchasing the house of your dreams, but he will point out important things that should be addressed prior to your settlement. He may explain that the problem is not one to be concerned with at the current time, but that the situation is simply one to be monitored should you purchase the home. You can use some or all of the information contained within the home inspection report to further clarify the contingencies within your agreement-of-sale.

The other important aspect of initiating a home inspection is what is called one-stop-shop.
Your inspector should not only be able to do a thorough home inspection but he should also offer radon and termite inspection as well.  Perhaps even mold, depending on the area you live in and your sensitivity to mold spores. By having one inspector who can offer all of those services means you will not have to call in other experts to perform separate inspections which will only add unwanted expenses as well as a scheduling problem for you and your Realtor.

As far as scheduling -- you will need to be present during the inspection. You should walk with the inspector by yourself or with your Realtor and/or your spouse if possible. Ask questions and wait for explanations that you thoroughly understand. Again, a good inspector is not an alarmist. He will give you the facts, in layman’s terms, as best he can. Keep in mind that your inspector will not inspect things he cannot see or gain access to. He will also not recommend methods of repairs, suggest contractors, or estimate costs, so do not pressure him for that information.

If a serious situation exists within the house, such as a gas leak or excessive carbon monoxide emissions from a faulty heating system, he will recommend a specialist be called in immediately to remedy the problem. It will be marked on his report as a safety concern.

Lastly -- we all have regular inspections done on our cars, and without fail, we have regular check-ups done on our bodies in order to monitor continued good health. Why do we not check our home every few years for its good health? It is not a bad idea to have a home inspector do a thorough inspection on your existing home every five years. The things he finds could save you thousands of dollars, and the things he doesn’t find, such as termites, water seepage or mechanical systems problems will certainly give you peace of mind.

Thank you for reading.

Jeffrey B. Allen

For further Information go to the ASHI or the NAHI web sites