A home inspection is one of the most important steps on the way to home ownership. Here’s how to use your inspection to determine if your dream house is filled with problems or just needs some basic maintenance and attention.
You’ve made an offer on a house, and the seller has accepted it. You have only a few short weeks to reassure yourself that it’s the right house for you and make sure you haven’t agreed to sink your life savings into a money pit.
And while you need to investigate the neighborhood, the zoning, the schools, and other concerns, the biggest piece of what the real estate people call “due diligence” will be the physical inspection of the house.
Much of your decision on whether to go ahead with the sale, and a large part of your plans for fixing the house after you buy it, will be based on the home inspection report.
An inspector will look at the building’s systems and components and let you know if they are functional and when or if they might need upgraded.
A home inspection may not cover absolutely everything, things like swimming pools, septic tanks, or burglar alarms will probably not be covered, but this will vary per inspector.
Find Your Own NJ Home Inspector
Real estate agents will often refer you to one, but you may want to find one on your own to ensure you’re getting what you want from the evaluation.
Your real estate agent will typically refer you to their favorite NJ home inspector, but buying a home is such a large, life changing decision, that it’s important to make sure you have an inspector you’re comfortable with.
Any inspector you hire in NJ should carry both general liability insurance and errors and omissions insurance, and the contract should spell out what will or won’t be covered in the inspection process..
A larger or more complicated property may cost more and take longer. A $99 inspection with a checklist is probably not the best spend for your money.
Be Present at the Home Inspection
You should make sure the inspection includes a narrative written report in addition to whatever the inspector will tell you verbally during the inspection. This information from the inspector is leverage to use in negotiations with the realtor.
How much an inspector will look at varies; some will climb on the roof or go into the attic, while others will opt for examining hard-to-reach spots with binoculars.
Many general contractors also perform inspections, but remember, you want someone who is experienced and trained in inspections because knowing how to build a house is not the same as knowing how to inspect one.
Nationally, the cost of an inspection ranges from around $300 to $700, and it should take three to four hours. A good inspection should cover both the interior and exterior of the house and its operational systems like the plumbing, heating, and electrical.
This doesn’t mean that every single electrical outlet or window will be tested, but the major stuff should be looked at.
A good inspector should have tools like moisture meters, electrical testers, screw drivers and flashlights. Be aware that even the best inspector may not find everything, but a thorough inspection is still your best option.
Even a brand new house will have a few things wrong with it, and an old house is likely to have lots of things wrong.
Some will be in the category of annoying rather than life-threatening, like broken doorbells, missing screens, or faulty outlets.
No matter the house, be prepared to fix or replace at least a few items.
Hopefully the inspector finds very little wrong with the home, but it’s best to be prepared for anything. Even the smallest defects can cause large problems down the road.
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