Although a home may look great to you, there can be structural or other problems that are not visible to the naked or untrained eye. This makes obtaining an inspection a very important part of your home buying experience. Although a home inspection is not required, it is a good idea and strongly recommended!
The function of the inspector is to check the safety of your potential new home. You would not want to bring your family into a home that was not safe would you? The inspector will focus on the structure, but if there is damage beyond their expertise, he will suggest an engineer’s report.
The Inspector does not evaluate whether or not you are getting a good deal on your new home. His purpose is to check on the electrical system, the plumbing and waste disposal available, the water heater, the insulation and ventilation, and the HVAC system. He will also check the foundation including doors, windows, ceilings, walls, floors, and the roof. Water source and quality inspection is done only on rural properties that have a well and/or septic tank. Typically a water specialist will perform these tests.
Home Inspection LimitationsIt is also important to note an inspector has limitations of expertise. Typically an inspector will have a strong general knowledge of many things, but he will not be a specialist of all fields. If something looks amiss he will suggest a more specific inspection be done by a more qualified vendor.
If your home inspector happens to discover a serious problem, a more specific Inspection may be recommended. He will indicate what type of inspection it needs. It is a good idea to have your potential new home inspected for the presence of a variety of health-related risks like radon, asbestos and mold. Other possible problems could be with the water or waste disposal system, presence of expansive soils, poor drainage around the foundation. In Colorado we use gas fireplaces, many times gas leaks are discovered during the inspection process.
We cannot emphasize enough the value and necessity of an extensive home inspection. Many home purchasers, either in the desire to save the money that a good inspection costs, or due to simple ignorance, have spent enormous sums of money repairing items that any good home inspector would have pointed out. Do not let anyone dissuade you from having the property thoroughly inspected!
Colorado Contract Provides Time for Home InspectionsIn the Colorado purchase agreement, the contract provides a time frame for the buyer to complete inspections. The inspection dates are negotiated and are usually completed within 10-12 days from acceptance of the contract. Within that time the buyer, can inspect anything and everything pertaining to the house. The buyer can give notice (for ANY or NO reason) if he decides NOT to purchase the home. This decision needs to be made prior to the inspection resolution date so the earnest money is not at risk.
When your inspector discovers unsatisfactory conditions you can request the seller to repair/replace items. During this negotiation, the seller has a specific time frame to decide if he can or wants to do any or all the buyers requests. If the buyer and seller cannot come to an agreement of terms, the buyer can decline to purchase the home.
Unfortunately, Colorado does NOT have a licensing provision for home inspectors. The best way to choose one is by referral. Your Realtor can recommend a reliable home inspector for you. Most Realtors have dealt with many different home inspectors during the course of work and know who to count on to do a good unbiased inspection on a home.
As an alternative to hiring one home inspector, many buyers prefer to hire several professionals from the specific trade that services the homes components (such as a Roofing contractor and HVAC for heating and air conditioning). This does require additional fees, however many buyers feel the added expense is worth it.
Inspections for the New Home
As more people are purchasing new homes from the builder, they are realizing how important it is to hire an independent inspector to check out the new home. Builders aren’t perfect nor are the homes they build. As a buyer, it’s best to have an inspector look over your new construction as it is being built. If a problem appears, it can be corrected before it is overlooked or covered up. The trained eye of an inspector knows what to look for and will gladly guide you through the process.
Most large builders will have rules that govern when an inspector can enter a job site. Many builders have had bad experiences with inspectors and are very touchy about who they allow on the site. Much of this relates to inspectors that are inexperienced and not knowledgable of current building trends and customs. Once again, inspectors are not licensed in the State of Colorado, so it’s important to hire a respectable, inspector with a good reputation.
Your contract to purchase will have the builders requirements and expectations for individual home inspections. If it doesn’t your Realtor can find out. Builders almost never suggest you have an independent inspection. They take the position that your “walk through” is an inspection. It’s not. You should hire your own inspector.
Inspection fees in Colorado are typically paid by the purchaser. Inspection charges are typically based on the size of the home. Some inspectors will charge an additional fee if the home is very old. Add-on fees are for additional testing such as radon are optional.
As a rule of thumb, expect charges of about 10 cents per square foot. Additional add on fees may apply if the home is located a distance away from the metro area, older than 30-40 years. Fees for these are not excessive and range from $20-$50. A radon test (if placed in the home at time of inspection) is $95. If the inspector has to make an individual trip to place and retrieve the test, the fee is $125.
Mold air sampling is typically only done when there is indication of mold. At an initial inspection, the inspector may see evidence of mold and suggest additional testing. Samples will be taken from various parts of the home, depending on the extent of the problem. Each sample has a fee of $125. Three to five samples are the average amount one can expect to take.
Fees for condo/townhome inspections are less. Typically a condo is $145, townhome $175. The reason being the inspector does not need to inspect as much area as for a single family residence.
Rural properties that are serviced by well water and septic tanks need to have potability tests done on the water, and it’s a good idea to test the flow of the water via a “flow test”. In times of draught, the homeowner may object to such a test, as it empties the water from the well and tests the well’s recovery. It’s best for a buyer to discuss this test with a well specialist who is familiar with the neighborhood. Such a specialist will offer suggestions and information that is helpful to a buyer. Expect to pay $300 for a flow test, $125 for potability of water.
Please note the above fees are estimates to assist in planning for your inspection. Fees are always subject to change, so please discuss them with your inspector, don’t assume anything.
Buyers should always be present during their home inspection. During the time the inspector is going through the home, he discusses with you the various components of your home. Often the inspector will demonstrate how to care for a home component. We often call inspections the Homeowner 101 class. It’s an inexpensive lesson about what you need to know about the care and maintenance of a home.
The process will take at least 2 hours for a basic inspection. At the end the inspector should be able to provide you with a written list of items that need attention. Usually the inspector will rate the seriousness of the conditions found. This system ranks the hazardous conditions to the “honey do” list for the future. If a component, say the water heater is still working and in ok condition, but is nearing the “end of it’s useful life”, the inspector will mention it so you can prepare for it’s demise.
Approaching a home inspection with the idea that you are looking for items that are 1)potentially dangerous, 2) broken 3)Expensive to fix is the true purpose of having an inspection. When buying an existing home, it will not be 100% perfect. Most likely the inspector will find minor items that you can fix at little or no cost. These items should not be something you expect a seller to fix.
Your satisfaction will depend on your expectations from the home inspection. It is best to communicate directly to the inspector what you want done. Inspectors have a standard of practice they adhere too. If you are expecting one to do something that they don’t typically do, you will be disappointed, so make it clear up front what your expectations are.
At The Berkshire Group, Realtors, we believe an well informed person is a happy home buyer. We offer this advice and more to assist you in finding the right home for your needs. If you would like to discuss purchasing or selling a home with us, please contact us. We welcome your e-mail or call.