(AND SOME HELPFUL TIPS IF YOU HAVE TO)
The recent and ongoing chaos in the housing market has put many home buyers in the position of having to consider waiving an inspection contingency for the dream home they’re hoping to purchase.
While opting out of a home inspection may seem like an inevitable option to survive a multiple-offer situation, there are significant risks involved. Most financial and home maintenance experts agree that no home is worth risking the potential downside of making one of the biggest financial decisions of your life without knowing what you’re buying.
The following provides an overview of some factors to consider before you make an offer on an uninspected house so you can understand the implications and how you might mitigate the risks.
WHAT YOU MIGHT MISS
By skipping a professional and thorough home inspection, you run the risk of missing potentially serious defects that could potentially involve significant costs to correct, as well as posing safety hazards that could put you and your family at risk.
Electrical Defects – A home inspection can identify defective electrical issues related to everything from the main service to the breaker panels, wiring, receptacles, and switches. Some of the issues most often revealed include improperly sized wiring and breakers, exposed wiring, and damaged, ungrounded, or incorrectly wired receptacles.
Structural Damage – A quick glance at the outside of a home by an inexperienced home buyer can miss details related to defects that have caused, or could cause, major structural damage to the home. An inspection can reveal deteriorated or improper roof flashing, which can result in water breaching the outer envelope of the house, causing wood rot, mold, and wood-destroying organisms that can compromise the home’s structural integrity. Cracks in the concrete or block foundation walls may or may not appear significant to a home buyer but can be properly assessed by a home inspector to determine whether they are indicative of a major issue.
Delayed Maintenance – A professional home inspection can identify areas of delayed maintenance of the home’s structural and systems components that may significantly impact the life expectancy of those items. Having to repair or replace an HVAC system, a deck, a chimney, siding, doors, or windows due to advanced deterioration because of delayed maintenance can lead to significant, unplanned costs.
Indoor Air Quality – From carbon monoxide to radon and mold, an inspection can help reveal conditions in a home that impact the air you and your family breathe. A blocked chimney flue, improperly configured HVAC venting, prior water intrusion issues, and the need for a radon mitigation system are typical of the defects found during an inspection.
Energy Efficiency – With the continuing escalation of the cost of energy required to condition a home’s interior environment, information regarding deficient insulation and improper or damaged sealing of the home’s outer envelope can reveal potential defects that can result in wasted energy and increased utility costs.
Exterior Grounds and Drainage – Keeping water out of and away from the home is critical in maintaining a dry and structurally sound home. A home inspection will reveal issues that can potentially compromise the proper drainage and flow of water and provide recommendations for correction to prolong the life expectancy and reduce the cost of owning your home.
These discoveries are crucial to discovering a house’s true condition and deciding whether any major repairs or replacements are worth the investment.
HOME MAINTENANCE PLAN
A professional home inspection is more than just a list of defects observed and repairs needed. It provides the homeowner with valuable advice and guidance regarding the future maintenance needs of the home.
Important Operating Details – A home inspection report will include vital information about the location of the home’s electrical, gas, and water service controls so, in an emergency, you’ll know how and where to shut them off.
Home Maintenance Costs – Knowing what maintenance items may be needed in the next five to 10 years after a home purchase makes it easier to create a financial plan and be ready for them. The cost of major maintenance, such as roof repairs or replacement, or a new furnace, is more easily accommodated when you have a plan or budget for those items. A home inspection will help put that plan together.
Home Maintenance Manual – Acuity Home Inspections provides every client with a complimentary Home Maintenance Manual, a comprehensive, 90+ page book containing information every homeowner can use to better understand how their home works and how to plan to maintain it.
NO INSPECTION CONTINGENCY?
If you absolutely must negotiate away a typical home inspection contingency that keeps the door open for negotiations, there are some options to mitigate your risk and provide some valuable insight into the true state of the property.
Consider making an offer that is still contingent upon a home inspection but make it clear that no negotiations will take place after the home inspection. For the purposes of the real estate transaction, the home inspection will only be used to help the buyer make sure that there are no huge issues that they can’t get over. This way, you can still back out if deal-breaking issues come to light.
Ask to see any recent inspections done on the property. Increasingly, home sellers are opting for a “pre-listing” inspection that can be useful in evaluating the condition of the property. The fact that a seller has conducted a pre-listing inspection also demonstrates a degree of transparency regarding the condition of the property.
Schedule a walk-through. Acuity Home Inspections offers, at an hourly- or flat-rate, to walk through the home with the potential buyer, conducting what is sometimes referred to as a “walk-n-talk”. These consultations can easily be done during showings or open houses and provide a chance for the home inspector to share their professional observations with the potential home buyer. While walk-throughs are not home inspections and will not reveal defects that a full inspection would, they can be helpful and provide some peace of mind regarding the condition of, and potential for issues with, the major components of the home.
BOUGHT A HOME WITH NO INSPECTION?
If you’ve already purchased your home and were not able to have it inspected during the closing process, it’s not too late! As described above, there are numerous potential safety and maintenance issues in a home that can be discovered during a Home Maintenance Inspection. Your inspection report and Home Maintenance Manual will help you get up to speed regarding the condition of your home and provide valuable information to enable you to design and implement a home maintenance plan and budget.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and maintenance inspections show homeowners where to find that ounce.”