When buying or selling a house, you may need to invite a home inspector. Though many consumers choose to avoid this step in the process, a home inspection can make a significant difference for the final deal. So why do you need a home inspection?
You may want the home, but you may not want the home, and you can't tell whether you want it or not without a home inspection.
Pissed Consumer asked Nick Gromicko, the founder of InterNACHI, the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, to explain the importance of home inspections. Nick is a Certified Master Inspector who is actively involved in the industry.
In this video, Nick shares tips with consumers about home inspections, red flags to watch out for with home inspectors, and how home inspection estimates work.
Questions covered in this expert video interview:
- Why is it important to do a home inspection?
- After-purchase home inspections
- The average cost of a home inspection
- How to choose a home inspector?
- Home inspection estimates and rates
- How long does a home inspection take?
- Home inspection report
- The importance of customer reviews
Why Is It Important to Do a Home Inspection?
Nick: Well, I would say that in this hot market right now don't let any real estate agent talk you out of submitting an offer without a home inspection, just to make the offer more appealing to a seller. You may want the home, but you may not want the home, and you can't tell whether you want it or not without a home inspection.
Nick: I'm Nick Gromicko, I founded InterNACHI. InterNACHI is the largest trade association for home inspectors. In the U.S. and Canada, there are about 30,000 home inspectors. 29,000 of them belong to InterNACHI. We have one of the largest websites in the world, it's 280,000 pages long. And we have 35 million unique visitors, that's about one in 14 Americans who have visited the site. We have 1,400 governmental approvals. We're also a U.S. Department of Education and Canadian accredited college.
Mike: Why is it important for consumers to do a home inspection?
Nick: Well, mostly because a home purchase is a very large financial purchase so home inspectors take a look at and make sure that the home is worth buying, and that you want it even with the defects they find.
It's also a safety issue, health, and safety issue. Home inspectors look for safety defects. That might be important to you, especially you and your family if you have young children, so inspectors look at that as well. They also make sure there's nothing so wrong with the house that the house isn't able to be insured or financed.
Do You Need a Home Inspection After Buying a House?
Mike: The home inspections happen after the purchase is made. Can a consumer order a home inspection? And for what benefits, if any, consumers order a home inspection as they live through the doubts?
Nick: Well, after the closing we also do an 11th-month warranty inspection on new homes. So if you buy a new home from a builder in the United States, you get a one-year guarantee, but you have to inform the builder about what's wrong before that one year is up.
So our inspectors go in on new homes in the 11th month and make a punch list of all the things that are still wrong with the house for the builder to repair. But most of our home inspections are done before a sale, not after.
How Much Is the Home Inspection?
Mike: A typical home inspection, what would it entail and how much does it cost?
Nick: Well, they start on the outside and they finish up reviewing with you all the things that they discovered. They go through the heating, plumbing, roofing, exterior, the interior, all that stuff. Takes them about a couple of hours, and a home inspection is about 450 bucks to do, so it's a relatively small dollar amount compared to the cost of the asset you're purchasing.
How to Choose a Home Inspector?
Mike: As the consumer starts to look for a new house, what are good tips that you can give to consumers on how to find a reliable home inspector? Are there typical ways on how to figure out which home inspector's the right inspector?
Nick: You probably want to look at an InterNACHI certified professional inspector that's gone through our courses, and that's a good inspector. If you want to pay an extra a hundred dollars roughly, you can get a certified Master Inspector. If you want a certified Master Inspector who has a little bit more experience, they have to have had a thousand inspections under their belt.
If you're worried that you might not like the house like you think it's a lemon, and you might have to move out once you move in, then you might want to pick a home inspector that participates in the “We'll Buy Your Home Back Guarantee.” It gives you 90 days after closing.
After you move in, if you don't like the house, they'll unwind the deal and you get all your money back, and you go look for another house. If you're worried your real estate agent might be steering you towards a patty cake inspector, one who's going to write a very soft report and not find anything wrong, then my advice would be to call an inspector from out of town, maybe a nearby town, and pay that inspector mileage to drive to your town to do the inspection.
And that way he's not beholden to any real estate agents and it's not the inspector that your real estate agent recommended.
So it all depends on what you're worried about. If you're worried about experience, get a certified Master Inspector. If you're worried about the house, get an inspector who participates in the “We'll Buy Your Home Back Guarantee.” If you're worried about your real estate agent then hire a home inspector from a nearby town and pay them extra to come to your town and do the inspection.
What Are Home Inspection Estimates and Rates?
Mike: The home inspector typically will find things that are wrong with the house. I doubt that there are perfect houses. I doubt that they exist. If a person lives in it for a while something may go wrong after a certain time. But, how accurate are the estimates that home inspectors typically give on the house if there is something wrong? Do home inspectors give a type of repair estimate? And how do they grade the house once the inspection is done?
Nick: Generally, they don't give estimates, and in many states it's illegal to give an estimate because they want to keep a separation between the inspector, keeping him independent, and repair contractors.
So a lot of regulations don't permit it. Inspectors aren't allowed to do repairs. So I would say the more complex the issue, the less accurate the inspector's estimate on how to repair that issue is going to be.
So if you have a very large complicated issue and you ask the inspector how much do you think this roof is going to cost to take down and replace? He might give you an estimate, a guess, I would say, but that guess could be off $5,000 or more easily.
So home inspectors don't really do that as part of their service, but they often do it just to try to help the consumer get their head around how much it's going to cost to repair and maintain the house. And toward that end, they often just explain verbally, what they think something's going to cost without providing it as part of the paid-for report.
Mike: Do inspectors actually rate the problems, or rate the houses? This house after the inspection is graded A, B, C? How do the inspectors give a report? There's some sort of grading to the house?
Nick: So there isn't a grading system or a rating but they look at each system and component, and they look for anything wrong with it. So basically the inspection report is a long list of things that they looked at to see if they could find anything wrong with it. If they don't find anything wrong with it then, in the inspector's opinion, there's nothing to report.
But sometimes things are old as well, so an inspector will say often that there's nothing wrong with this water heater but it's past its normal life expectancy. And so that may be of interest to the buyer because the buyer has to account for that replacement in their finances once they move in.
How Long Does a Home Inspection Take?
Mike: How long does a typical inspection take?
Nick: About two hours to do the inspection and maybe another hour to generate the report. Some inspectors generate the report on-site and hand it to you at the end of the inspection, and some do it in the evening and then email it to you or upload it to a system where you can download it digitally.
What Is a Home Inspection Report?
Mike: Are inspection materials publicly shared or are they specifically for the homeowners? Who sees that report?
Nick: So they're completely private to just the inspector and the client, but the client can give it to their real estate agents often and often do, or their attorney, or their wife, of course, or anybody else, a contractor. The client can do anything they want with the report. They could publish it, I guess.
In some states, if the consumer is going to make an issue about anything that the inspector finds then the seller is entitled to the report. Many sellers don't actually want the report. They view it like a hot potato because if that deal doesn't go through with their current buyer they don't want to have any knowledge to be required to disclose to future buyers.
So many sellers don't want to see the inspection report. They don't want to lay their eyes on it for fear that they may have to disclose those issues to future potential buyers.
Mike: What do you think are the most important areas in the home inspection report for consumers to consider? What are the biggest red flags in the home inspection report that consumers should be most worried about?
Nick: Well, I would think safety issues are the big ones, especially if you have children. So number one would be safety issues. Number two would be water. Water does the most amount of damage to a house.
So not only if you have a leak does it cause a water problem and damage things, but it also could create a mold problem which is also really a safety, a health issue, right? So anything that has to do with safety or health, especially if you have a family with children, those are the most important things to pay attention to in a home inspection report.
Why Are Customer Reviews So Important?
Mike: So our website is called Pissed Consumer. It's a platform for consumers to be able to share their opinion about products or services. How important do you think that the presence of such a website is for consumers?
Nick: Well, I think it's even more important for the vendors and the companies that they're referring to. So for instance, some vendors and suppliers of products or services, when they find out consumers are upset, they want to do what they can to get that review taken down.
So, in one sense it provides leverage. But to other vendors and suppliers of products and services such a site like this alerts the company about things that they have no idea is even going on.
I'll give you a perfect example. When I go to a restaurant and I have a horrible experience, the meal is bad, the service is bad, the place is lousy, it's undercooked, and I just don't like the restaurant at all, I didn't like anything about it. I do something really horribly mean to the owner of the restaurant. I simply leave and don't say anything. I'm too shy. I'm too shy to confront someone face-to-face.
That's a horrible thing to do to the restaurateur because the restaurateur needs to know that you're pissed, so to say. And without that knowledge, the restaurateur can't take steps to correct anything if they don't know about it. And so I think sites like this serve a great benefit, not just to consumers, but even more so to the companies that they're discussing.
To wrap things up
Home inspections are important when buying a house. If you doubt whether to buy a house or not, consider hiring a professional home inspector who will help you spot the defects and faults.
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