Quality home inspections have a number of common characteristics. These traits should be independent of who the individual home inspector is or when or where the inspection is performed.
An inspection should provide an unbiased opinion. The most important factor that makes a home inspector unbiased is that he/she is not selling any follow-up contracting services. A home inspector should have no vested interest in the results of an inspection. This lack of interest in the results means the inspector is not going to be looking for any particular excuse to get follow-up contracting business. When having your roofer friend come over for a whole house inspection, he might be more interested in selling you a new roof than observing the electrical problems in the basement.
Evaluation of the condition of the house is the inspector’s main goal. An inspection will not tell you if the asking price is appropriate, or whether the walls in the dining room are the correct color. This also means that you cannot pass or fail an inspection. It is not a “building codes” inspection that would be performed by a town or municipal code inspector prior to issuing a certificate of occupancy. While a home inspector will check for conditions based on knowledge of building codes, a home inspection is not a building code inspection.
Evaluating the condition of a home includes the following steps:
- Identifying the components (For example: Rheem forced air gas furnace, galvanized duct work, 100,000 BTU, 12 years old)
- Describing their condition (For example: Satisfactory for its age, some very minor indications of rust in the heat exchanger, pretty dirty inside)
- Implications and recommendations (For example: Prior to the heating season, you should have a heating contractor come in and do an annual maintenance on your furnace. You may need to replace it in 3 – 5 years, as this type of furnace typically has a life span of 15-20 years. Change the air filter monthly during the heating season.)
All through the process of evaluating the condition of the home, one of the inspector’s principle focuses will be safety. Safety is priority one! Items like loose hand rails, wiring problems, excessively hot water, and bulging basement walls should be addressed. These and other safety conditions will be identified and prominently noted.
At the completion of the inspection the inspector will issue a report that details the findings of the inspection. This report is confidential between you and the inspector. Sharing of the report or any information contained therein is strictly up to you. The inspector will not share the results with any other parties, including real estate agents or contractors, thus ensuring confidentiality.
Finally, a quality home inspection should leave you feeling knowledgeable and confident, walking away a better informed home owner.