A key element in any home remodeling project is the inspection. A professional home inspection can uncover potential problems before you begin, giving you an opportunity to factor those repairs into the cost of the project or rethink the scope of your remodeling.
An independent inspection can give you peace of mind since it is an impartial, third party evaluation of the accessible structure and mechanical systems of a house. Most inspections run around $300, which is a small price to pay for assurance that your home is good working condition.
According to the California Real Estate Inspection Association (CREIA), following are the most common myths - and the realities - about home inspections.
The Home Inspection Process
- Myth: You only need a general contractor to conduct your home inspection.
Reality: A home inspector works routinely with a range of properties - from new to old and very old. A general contractor deals primarily with new construction, which may make assessing the condition of an older home a problem. Another big differentiator: A home inspector will have more than common construction knowledge. He or she must recognize and evaluate a range of deterioration and wear affecting building structures and mechanics. Additionally, an inspector must understand building, plumbing, heating and cooling systems, electrical and fire safety. By relying only on a general contractor to evaluate your home, you may be missing the bigger picture.
- Myth: All home inspectors' credentials are the same.
Reality: In many states, professional home inspectors are not required to be licensed. As a result, you may find online home inspector organizations that will recommend "certified" inspectors. Experienced home inspectors have a broad base of knowledge in all areas of home construction, maintenance and safety issues, not just a listing on a fancy Web site. Before hiring an inspector, do your homework. Ask what organization certified the inspector; consult the Better Business Bureau and professional organizations for any complaints; and request references from at least three real estate agents and homeowners.
- Myth: An inspection report isn't needed as long as a qualified person tells you about the property.
Reality: You wouldn't hire a contractor on conversation and a handshake. And you shouldn't rely on what an inspector tells you about your property unless it is in writing. A written inspection report is the finished product of every home inspection. Make a point of being present for your home inspection so that the inspector can help you better understand your home's systems and answer any questions on the items that are addressed in the report.
In general, you can expect the home inspector to evaluate the following:
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- Electrical Circuitry: A thorough check of the fusing, switching system, equipment ground and correct polarity to determine that the current is safely controlled.
- Plumbing: The piping and fixtures that deliver drinking water, control sanitation at the point of usage, remove wastewater, and keep sewer gas out of the home.
- Heating and Cooling Systems: Includes operation of heating, exhaust, distribution, refrigeration, and other equipment used to heat and cool the house.
- Major Appliances: Kitchen, laundry and other major appliances are checked for operability and damage.
- Roof/Structural Components: Includes roofing membranes, gutters and downspouts, roof decking and rafters, ventilation and insulation.
- Exterior Drainage: Includes walks, drives, patios and the grading of surrounding lawn.
- Foundation: Includes elements that provide the primary load bearing assemblies for the house and control water penetration into the house.
- Fireplace/Chimney: Includes chimney alignment, chimney structure, chimney caps, dampers and condition of firebrick.
Find a Local Home Inspector
Whether you're embarking on a major whole-house remodel or simply a room addition, a proper inspection can save you money and prevent you from making a poor investment.
Click here to contact a local, licensed and reliable home inspector in your area.