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What is a Home Inspection?
A home inspection is an objective visual examination of the physical structure and systems of a home, from the roof to the foundation. Having a home inspected is like giving it a physical check-up. If problems or symptoms are found, the inspector may recommend further evaluation.
What does it include?
The standard home inspector’s report will review the condition of the home’s heating system, central air conditioning system (temperature permitting), interior plumbing and electrical systems; the roof, attic, and visible insulation; walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors; the foundation, basement, and visible structure. The State of Maryland clearly defines what must be observed in an inspection with their Maryland Standards of Practice. To view the Maryland Home Inspection Standards of Practice click here.
Why do I need a home inspection?
Not only is it required by most lenders, but it can save you a lot of heartache and money down the road. Many homes, especially older homes are not up to today’s building standards and technically they may be exempt from those standards. Some may have safety issues which need to be address before you or your family move in. A home inspection will point out all the positive and negative aspects of a home. Having a home inspection before you buy can help a buyer foresee and prepare for any unpleasant and costly repairs as well address any health or safety concerns.
How do I choose a home inspector?
Keep in mind your home inspection is as only as good as the inspector’s ability to COMMUNICATE their KNOWLEDGE to you. Look for a PROFESSIONAL ATTITUDE, good communication skills and concise well written reports (My reports contain pictures of the issues to help you understand what these issues are). They are written in easy to understand language. As of 2008, Maryland Home Inspectors are required to be licensed by the state (currently Virginia and Washington, D.C.do not require such licensing). If your inspector does not have this license, your inspection may be invalid. To see if your inspector is licensed in the State of Maryland, click here.
An inspector should have been trained by a reputable school and belong to quality associations for continuing education.
What affects the cost of an inspection?
Whatever you do, don’t let the cost be the deciding factor in whether or not to have a home inspection, or in the selection of your home inspector. The knowledge gained from an inspection is well worth the cost, and the lowest-priced inspector is not necessarily a bargain. This is one time the old adage “You get what you pay for” is true and it ultimately could cost you more. For each home inspection company it is different. Some companies base their prices on the purchase price of the property, others price their inspections based on the square footage of the properties, the age of the home, particular features including decks, fireplaces, and the number of systems (furnaces, air conditioning units, etc.) that are present.
A Thorough Home Inspection is time based and calculated by square footage and number of systems checked. We believe it is the fairest way to access our fees. You will find us very competitive for a quality inspection.
What a home inspection is not
A home inspection is not a guarantee, certification, appraisal, or warranty of any kind. Nor will the home inspector give estimates for or to do repairs on the property; this is in conflict with Maryland law.
An inspector will not do any destructive testing, remember this house does not belong to you nor to the inspector the goal is to leave it in the condition we found it in. Nor does an inspector have x-ray vision, we are trained to look for indications of concealed issues and use the most modern testing equipment, but we cannot see through coverings.
The inspector will not move any furniture or personal belongings to access any area of the property. In order to avoid costly damage and liability there are certain things that a home inspector cannot do to a property.
A home inspector will not light a pilot or start systems that are turned off. The home inspector is also limited to the wishes of the current homeowner. The inspector cannot enter rooms, test appliances, etc., that the owner does not allow. (Issues such as this must be worked out between buyer and seller beforehand). This is not a code compliance inspection and we cannot offer code opinions.
My training was with the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors which instructs compliance with the InterNACHI Standards of Practice which are more comprehensive than most state regulations.
What should I do to get ready?
The buyer and seller (with the help of a real estate agent, if necessary) should communicate about the arrangements for the home inspection in order to prepare. It is often helpful if the current homeowner is NOT at the property during the inspection, although it is absolutely necessary. Remember, this is your inspection and time for you and the inspector to evaluate the house, and be able to freely discuss what you are seeing without fear of hurting the seller’s feelings. The owner should make sure that there is access to the house and all areas inside the house. It is very important that the gas, water, and electricity are turned on, and there is access to electric panel!
How long will the home inspection take?
The amount of time for a home inspection varies based on number of systems to be inspected, the size, and condition of the property. We recommend setting aside anywhere from 3 to 3 1/2 hours for an average size home and townhome, and upwards of 7 hours for larger homes. We will not rush an inspection. We are there for your benefit, and want to give you the most professional inspection possible.
Do I have to be there?
It is not required that you be present, but it certainly is recommended. You will be able to observe the inspector and ask questions directly, as you learn about the condition of the home, how its systems work, and how to maintain it. You will also find the written report easier to understand if you’ve seen the property first-hand.
Do you get on every roof?
The condition of the roof may be observed in several ways, weather permitting, walking the roof, off ladder or from the ground with binoculars. However, the condition of the roof will also typically be evaluated by looking at other areas of the house as well. Leaks in the ceiling or attic are also clear indicators that we always look for. Some roofs are not safe for an inspector to walk on. Walking on roofs that are in bad condition and made of certain materials can pose a risk as well as the possibility of damage.
When do I get my report?
Your report will be available to you online through our protected portal to view or print within 24 hrs at the time of inspection. A hard bound copy will also be available. We realize that sometimes time constraints make it necessary for a faster turn around and we will make every effort to meet your schedule.
What if the report reveals problems?
Keep in mind that no house is perfect. If the inspector identifies problems, it doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t buy the house, only that you will know in advance what to expect. A seller may adjust the purchase price or contract terms if major problems are found (an issue to discuss with your realtor). Any repairs or contract adjustments are completely up to the home buyer/seller/owner and not the inspector. If your budget is tight, or if you don’t wish to become involved in future repair work, this information will be extremely important to you.
Can a house fail an inspection?
No! A professional home inspection is an examination of the current condition of your prospective home. It is not an appraisal, which determines the market value, or a municipal inspection, which verifies local code compliance. But rather, a home inspection is a description of its physical condition and indication of what may need repair or replacement. There is no pass or fail.