When you’re ready to buy a home, your realtor will, more likely than not, suggest that you get a home inspection. Our home is the costliest investment we make in our lives. Still, there are circumstances where I hear people pondering whether or not they should get a home inspection. One instance – probably the most common – is when the house is new. People just can’t imagine anything being wrong with a brand new home.
Another example is when the buyer has a contractor friend who will give the home a look. This isn’t a bad idea; the more eyes the better, I like to say. I’m going to go over some things I have personally seen regarding cases such as these.
First, let’s cover the brand new home. I can’t tell you how many times I have been speaking to someone who has bought, or has a friend or family member who has bought, a brand new home without getting a home inspection. When I ask why, they usually say the same thing: “It’s a brand new home. If there’s anything wrong with it, it’s under warranty.” This is true, but how do you take advantage of the warranty if you don’t know if there are defects?
It’s not wise to assume everything is perfect in a brand new home. When a home inspector goes through a new home, it is not out of the ordinary for him or her to come out with a list of defects as long as if the house were 20 years old. I have personally inspected new homes with damaged roof tiles, damaged trusses, kinked duct work, outlets that were not properly wired, and even multiple attics with no insulation. These are just a few of the items we see, and they are not uncommon.
However, without a home inspection items such as these would go unnoticed for some time. I did a home inspection in Surprise where the seller bought the home brand new and did not get a home inspection. When I went into the attic, there was no insulation. This was in August, and the a/c unit was actually keeping the home cool, but I can’t imagine what her electric bills must have been. She had owned the home for a few years at this point. Had she gotten a home inspection upon purchasing the home, she would have been made aware of the problem and it would have been covered under the warranty. Since the house was no longer under warranty, she had the added stress of wondering if the cost of insulating the attic would fall on her.
Now, onto having a home looked at by a friend or relative who is a contractor. This is something I am all for – in addition to a home inspection, not instead of. While a contractor will get a good look at the items he is familiar with, he does not perform home inspections for a living, and chances are he will not be nearly as thorough as a home inspector.
Another thing to consider is the fact that a home inspector is an unbiased 3rd party. We do not perform repairs, as to not create a conflict of interest. By hiring a home inspector, you can rest assured that he / she is not going through the home with visions of future repair work dancing in their head. Home inspectors observe and report without being emotionally or financially invested. It is our job to remain objective.
Not long ago, I did a home inspection in Phoenix for a couple who’d already had the roof looked at by a contractor friend of theirs. They felt so comfortable with his findings, they had requested I not bother inspecting the roof. I explained to them that since they were paying me to perform a home inspection, I’d have to do it to the Standards of Practice, and this includes the roof. As I stated before, the more eyes the better. They agreed. When I inspected the roof, I observed a few cracked tiles, which are typical, and a few other minor things; but generally a sound looking roof. When discussing the roof with the buyers, I recommended they have a roofer inspect / repair these minor items.
It was then that they told me of their contractor friend’s findings: he had informed them that the roof was so far gone, it needed to be replaced. He then offered to replace it for them at a price of $22,000. It was as if he & I had inspected two different roofs! The buyers did have the roof inspected by a professional roofer, and his findings were the same as mine. There was no need for a new roof.
I have many more stories, as does any experienced home inspector, but I think I’ve made my point. While some may think a home inspection is unnecessary or expensive, I can’t think of any situation where it is a good idea for a home buyer not to get a home inspection. In most cases, they pay for themselves many times over.