Unlike home appraisals that are required by lenders before approving mortgages, home inspections aren’t mandatory when buying a home. If we add the fact that buying a home is expensive enough without paying for a thorough examination performed by a certified professional, it’s no wonder that many home buyers waive home inspections from their do-to lists. But what these people overlook is that a home inspection can reveal many hidden problems that may endanger their investments down the road.
Are Home Inspections Necessary?
The most important aspect for a person who is about to make the biggest investment in his life is to get an accurate estimate of the property’s current market value. Even if a home appears to be in good condition and move-in ready, a home inspector will carefully examine everything, from roof, insulation and structural features to electrical wiring, plumbing, heating, cooling and ventilation system. But there are two more reasons why home inspections are important.
First, a home inspection is a contingency that can be included in real estate purchase agreements. This contingency gives buyers the right to back out of the deal, free of penalty, or renegotiate the terms, conditions and price of the house if significant defects are found during the inspection.
Second, inspectors don’t just look at a property; they provide an in-depth report that clearly specifies all the problems found to help buyers feel more secure about their purchase decisions. For instance, knowing that a home will need a new roof within two or three years may influence a buyer’s decision to purchase it.
Another important aspect a home buyer should be aware of is that there are six different types of home inspections, as follows:
- General Home Inspection
During general home inspections, professionals check walls for cracks, mold growth and damaged or missing siding; roof for loose, missing or improperly installed/secured shingles; foundation for settlement problems; grading to establish whether the ground slopes away from or towards the house; garage to determine if it’s properly ventilated and the door opens and closes properly; dryer exhaust system in the laundry room; water heater along with plumbing, electrical and HVAC systems; and kitchen appliances.
- Wood-Destroying Pest Inspection
During wood-destroying pest inspections, inspectors look for signs of structural damage caused by wood-destroying pests like wet- or dry-rot fungus and termites.
- Well Water Quality Inspection
If the property has a well water system, a water quality test can help ensure that water is safe to drink and determine its hardness parameters. In addition, the inspector will check the condition of the pump and wellhead.
- Septic System Inspection
During septic system inspections, professionals check septic systems to ensure they’re in good working order.
- Radon Gas Presence Inspection
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas. Since the gas is odorless and colorless, and can build up in enclosed places like basements, any person who intends to buy a home in Florida should test it for radon. According to the Florida Department of Health, tests performed in different locations across the state have indicated elevated radon levels in 1 percent up to 70 percent of cases.
- Oil Tank Inspection
An oil tank inspection involves testing the tank for leaks and the soil surrounding it to determine if contamination exists. Since a leaking oil tank is a serious environmental hazard, mortgage companies don’t approve loans on homes with buried oil tanks.
Based on all these facts, we can draw one conclusion: home inspections are very important not only for the buyer’s pocket but also for his own and his family’s health and safety.