The Four Most Important Issues in a Home Inspection
The process of buying a home can be stressful. A home inspection is supposed to give you peace of mind, but honestly, it can have the opposite effect. You will be asked to absorb a lot of information in a short time. This often includes a written report, checklist, photographs and what the inspector himself says during the inspection. When you combine this with the seller's disclosure and what you notice yourself makes the experience even more overwhelming.
What should you do?
Relax. Take a deep breath. Most of your inspection will be maintenance recommendations, life expectancies, and minor imperfections. These are nice to know about and make a list and plan to address as a homeowner.
However, the issues that really matter in your home inspection will fall into four categories:
- Major defects.
An example of this would be a significant structural failure.
- Things that may lead to major defects.
A small water leak coming from a piece of roof flashing, for example.
- Things that may hinder your ability to finance, legally occupy, or insure the home.
Structural damage caused by a hurricane, for example.
- Safety hazards.
This could be things such as no eye-beam system present in the garage or no GFCI outlets near water sources.
Anything in these categories should be corrected. Often a serious problem can be corrected inexpensively to protect both life and property (especially in categories 2 and 4).
Most sellers are honest and are often surprised to learn of defects uncovered during an inspection. Realize that sellers are under no obligation to repair everything mentioned in the report. No home is perfect.
Keep things in perspective. Don't kill your deal over things that don't matter. It is inappropriate to demand that a seller address deferred maintenance, conditions already listed on the seller's disclosure, or nit-picky items. I always tell my clients that nothing I may find during the inspection should cause them to not buy the home. Anything can be fixed.