To understand how a home inspection benefits you as a buyer, you need to first understand what a home inspector does and what’s all included in a home inspection.
First, although you can choose your own home inspector here in Utah, they aren’t actually required to be licensed in our state, so make sure your Realtor can recommend an inspector who’s held to a high standard or is a member of the National Association of Home Inspectors (NAHI).
Second, home inspections are intended to point out adverse conditions—not cosmetic flaws. You should attend the inspection and follow the inspector throughout the process so you can learn what’s important and what’s not. No house is perfect, and an inspection is bound to uncover some faults. An inspector will point out conditions that need to be repaired or any other safety-related items. They won’t comment on any cosmetic items if they don’t impair the integrity of the property. The also won’t conduct any destructive testing.
Third, home inspection reports include only the basics. A home inspector considers hundreds of items during an inspection. Their report should cover all of the home’s exterior and interior features and comment on the working order of things like the faucets and the garage door opener. They may also point out termite damage and suggest that you get a separate pest inspection. The final written report should be concise and easy for you to understand.
Fourth, home inspectors work for the party who’s paying the fee, which is you. The NAHI Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics states that their members act as an unbiased third party to the real estate transaction and will discharge their duties with fidelity and integrity to the client. A reputable home inspector will not conduct an inspection or prepare an inspection report if their fee is contingent on untruthful conclusions. The inspection should maintain client confidentiality and keep all findings private (unless required by a court order). This means that if you’re a seller you have the choice of disclosing the report to others. If there’s a failure in the integrity of the home or with any of its systems, though, you must report them.
Fifth, inspectors aren’t responsible for the condition of the home. Inspectors don’t go behind walls or under floorings, so it’s possible that a problem can get overlooked. Also, keep in mind that inspectors aren’t a part to the sale’s transaction, so if a major problem surfaces after the sale is complete, you won’t be able to make them liable or get to them to pay for it getting fixed. In fact, you may not be entitled to any compensation beyond the cost of the inspection. As a buyer, you just need the inspector to decide if the home is in a condition you can tolerate. You can then show it to the seller to negotiate a better price or point out repairs that need to be made. You can also take it to a contractor and use it to remodel the home.
The one thing you shouldn’t do when buying a home is skip the home inspection because of the cost or any undue pressure from the seller. It’s also important to note that inspections are required by many lenders, especially for FHA loans.
For older homes, be sure to have the plumbing and sewer lines inspected during your inspection. Additionally, you can talk to your inspector about adding other tests to the basic inspection, like a radon or mold test. Most competent inspectors your agent refers you too will add these tests anyway, though.
If you have any other questions about home inspections or how they can benefit you, please feel free to reach out to me. I’d be glad to help you.