Home Inspections : For the Love of All Things Good, Get One

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Home Inspection Nightmare: Wouldn't you rather know before you buy? Image from ashi.org

About three to four years ago, the housing market in my city was going all kinds of crazy. It was a seller’s market on Mark McGwire-grade steroids. Everyone was looking for real estate at that moment and a house with a little yard in downtown was mighty coveted. Back in 2007, friends of mine made offers on 23 places in 14 months and were heavily involved in five bidding wars before emerging victorious with an accepted offer and a place of their own. I get a headache just thinking about it.

In order to make their offers more enticing, many people during this time were doing all kinds of things to win – offering far above the asking price, providing massive deposits with offers, bumping possession dates to whatever the buyers were asking for and removing conditions.

Say that again? Removing conditions? Like what?

Oh, nothing. Just the very-important and you-are-insane-to-remove-conditions like the home inspection. While the idea of submitting dozens of rejected offers makes my head hurt, the idea of buying a house without a home inspection makes my stomach sick.

My friends, thankfully, still insisted on a home inspection with their home purchase, but an acquaintance of mine didn’t – and wow, are they ever paying for it. Just imagine plunking down a half million dollars on a home only to discover it could be featured in This Old House’s Home Inspection Nightmares – multiple times.

Their “simple” plans to update the kitchen, bathroom and perhaps beautify a room for a nursery were dashed when their contractor started digging around and discovered the electrical had to go. All of it. And the plumbing? Equally a disaster. And then there was the issue of the foundation, the furnace, the roof, the raccoon love nest in the attic, and an illegally-built garage on city land.

*At this point, the writer has paused to get some Pepto Bismal to calm her body quakes.*

No matter how hot or not your market is, get a home inspection. If the sellers want you to remove that condition – run.

Why do I need a home inspection?

You see, we don’t have x-ray eyes to see through the walls, we can’t tell the state of a furnace just by glancing at it and the average home buyer likely isn’t aware of all the codes that should be in place. A home inspector is your super hero who can do all this (ok, no x-ray eyes) for you. They can check out a home thoroughly, list what’s fine, what needs work, what needs replacing and give you an estimate on how much it will set you back. With this information, you can go forward with the house purchase, renegotiate or walk away before it destroys your life.

The cost of a home inspection will vary, but I’ve heard of them being as low as $300 to as high as $900. The average around my neck of the woods is $500. It’s well worth it. In fact, some sellers may even want to invest in having it one. They can use it to identify and fix problems that might otherwise give buyers cold feet, readjust their price up or down, and even provide copies of it to potential buyers to show off the condition of the home.

Interested in a home inspection? Angie’s List will have many rated and reviewed inspectors in your area. You can also look to the American Society of Home Inspectors for more information.

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About Jen

Jen (but never “Jenn”) Byck, aka the Fix'n Vixen, is a Toronto-based freelance writer and communication consultant who is undoubtedly home fixated (she is also TV fixated, really bad TV fixated and donut fixated). Her approach to home improvement has been rather trial and error, the latter of which is evidenced by the amount of spackle she buys on an annual basis.

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4 thoughts on “Home Inspections : For the Love of All Things Good, Get One”

  1. This is an old post but still very valid. I dont understand how someone would go through the house buying process and neglect a home inspection. Compared to the price of a home inspection the damage and money it can potentially save you from makes it well worth it.

  2. I haven’t been too impressed with the several home inspectors we’ve had experience with. Generally, I think they’re underqualified for the work that they do. Admittedly, I now more about homes than most folks, but some very basic questions regarding code and good building practice showed the inspectors I dealt with have very little understanding of how homes really work. I think a better idea (if you have the money) is to hire a remodeler with a good reputation and have hime check out any home your selling or buying. You might even have them bring in their trusted subcontractors to have a look at anything the remodeler has questions about. Do you think ASHI is going to firebomb my mailbox now?

    • At the risk of being firebombed too, I have to agree that the caliber of home inspectors can vary pretty widely. Considering most homeowners don’t have construction experience, I do think even a marginal quality home inspection can be useful to point out issues the homeowner might not be aware of. Having a skilled and knowledgeable remodeler look at it is a great idea too, assuming the homeowner knows or can find one. I say the more trained eyes that have scoped out the house, the better. Surprises after a home purchase are rarely good!


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