For most people, buying a home represents the biggest investment of their lifetime. Even if it isn’t their “forever home,” they’ll still build equity in the house that carries over into their next purchase five, ten, or fifteen years down the road. That’s why it’s critical to conduct a home inspection with a certified home inspector before finalizing a purchase to ensure that a property is safe, has no major structural issues, and that all of its systems are operational (even if they’re dated). An inspection will also give a reasonable estimate as to the life expectancy of big-ticket items (like a roof) so that buyers can plan a budget that includes replacement when the time comes.
There are many reasons to sell a home: job relocation, downsizing, a growing family, divorce, or myriad other major life changes. Still, it’s important to ensure that the real reason a home is for sale isn’t because of serious structural issues that sellers can’t afford to or won’t address themselves. If there are larger issues discovered by an inspection, it doesn’t have to kill the deal: Instead, buyers can make an offer for the property that reflects the amount of work needed to ensure the safety and operation of the home. Or, they can move on and look elsewhere for a property that requires less work (though one that requires “no work” is about as common as a unicorn).
The good news: There are very few problems within a house that cannot be rectified. It’s simply a matter of cost, time, and willingness.
Why Do I Need a Home Inspector?
Long before I was a home inspector myself, I relied on them when I was buying my own home and when I was investing in properties I rented or sold myself. That’s because they’re worth it. You’ve seen the movie Money Pit,right? Well, if you haven’t, here’s a spoiler alert: They needed a home inspector before buying that house. The worst case scenario when you wave an inspection is that you run into a major problem that you, your Uncle Bob, and your realtor all somehow missed, because you weren’t necessarily trained to see it. Like termites, or foundation issues, or a faulty electrical system. It winds up costing you a fortune to fix and turns your house into a construction site. Will it happen? I hope not. But the peace of mind that comes from knowing it won’t is remarkably valuable, especially during the stressful buying and mortgage process. But it’s also actuallyvaluable. Let’s look at the numbers.
What Does A Home Inspection Cost?
A home inspection can range anywhere from $300-$800, depending on your location, the size of your home, and additional testing you may deem necessary such as radon or termite. Here are just a few issues that might get noted in your inspection report as well as the average cost for replacement:
Roof Replacement Cost
A typical roof replacement can cost you anywhere from $5,000-$12,000, depending on the size and amount of wood that needs to be replaced. If it’s a new roof, great news! You probably don’t have to think about it for 20 years. Is it a 10-year-old roof? You’ve got some time. If it is older, though, say 25 years, you’ll have to consider replacing that roof soon.
New Window Cost
New windows can cost between $350 - $500 installed, each. Yes, that is pricey. If you have an older home with older windows that are a little drafty but still functional, chances are the seller isn’t going to invest in new units. However, if there are broken windows, you can ask that they be replaced.
Central Air Cost Installing a new mid grade central air unit for an average sized house with existing ductwork should cost approximately $5,000.00, the average life expectancy of these units range from 10-15 years.
It’s every homeowner’s worst fear: The middle of a cold winter night, and the furnace goes. You’re looking at a maintenance call starting at about $200-$300 to start, followed by an overall replacement cost of upwards of $5,000, approximately. Knowing the age of a furnace can help you plan to replace it before it fails. And in some cases it’s before you buy the home.
Hot Water Heater Cost
With installation, you’ll find that most hot water heaters cost about $500-$1000. Unless you like cold showers, make sure your heater is in good working order.
Why Inspections Help Keep Costs Down
Consider this: The inspection cost you $500, at first it feels like a bitter pill to swallow. Your home inspection reveals two broken windows, and a hot water heater that needs to be replaced. After you receive the report the seller agrees to have a new hot water heater installed (at a cost of $500-$1000) and give you a credit for $600 for replacement windows. You’re coming out on top. These are typical repairs and a reasonable request of the seller to remediate. Other items that come up on an inspection report can be much costlier and you’ll be glad you had an inspection when they do.
Checking Electrical & Wiring
When it comes to your family’s safety — electrical might be the most important. A home inspector will check if the property’s wiring is old or improperly installed. Other things to consider: Are there GFCI outlets near water sources? What’s the condition of the panel? Old, faulty wiring can lead to fire, and an old panel that’s not up to snuff can do the same. While we’re at it, let me remind you: Put smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors on every floor and outside every bedroom, and make sure to change your batteries every six months.
Checking Radon Gas
Another safety concern for your family is radon gas. This invisible poison can enter your home through your basement or crawl space, and it’s common: According to the EPA, roughly 1 in 15 houses in America have elevated radon levels. Still, despite its prevalence, the dangers of radon gas are not yet widely known amongst the public and most people become aware of it only during the home buying process.
How To Understand Your Home Inspection Report
There is a lot of information to absorb during a home inspection, and once you’ve read your report you should be able to speak with your inspector and go over any questions you may have. The home buying process is long, arduous and often intimidating, and while you certainly don’t want to buy the wrong house, you want to understand the information on your report and not let it scare you out of buying the right house, either.
How Home Inspections Can Tell You About Future Repairs Am I a fortuneteller? No. But I can tell you if you’re going to need to replace your roof, hot water heater, or porch, among other things, in the next few years, and that will help you budget accordingly and avoid surprises that always seem to happen at the worst time—not to mention the added costs of emergency appointments with the professionals who arrive to fix them. Consider your inspection a map, and know what’s coming down the road.
How To Negotiate After Home Inspection
Remember that the items on the home inspection are negotiable. The seller can choose to fix the problem, give you cash back at closing or lower the purchase price. It’s up to personal preference, but if the seller opts to give money back, I prefer to have cash back at closing rather than a lowered purchase price. Buying a home and then moving into it is expensive, and personally I would rather have the cash on hand.
That said, not everything on the list will necessarily be handled. Talk to your inspector about priorities and deal breakers, and rest easy knowing that your home is safe and secure and a good investment for your future.
Have a question or want to hear more? Email me at email@example.com