The Home Inspection

Years ago in the home inspection business, the old saying was "caveat emptor," or let the buyer beware. Well, a lot has changed since those days. The seller of a house in Maryland is now asked either to disclaim any knowledge of the house and property or to disclose all they know. Most attorneys recommend disclaiming because to disclose means that you are perceived to know everything about your house. Obviously, it's difficult to know how every part of your house is working and what repairs are required. That opens the door for the home inspector.

Since a home inspection sheds light on major problems, it is one of the best values a homebuyer or homeowner can purchase. Inspectors are trained to identify current problems and potential problems, and they will investigate where many homeowners don't, such as attics, crawlspaces, roofs and inside the electrical panel. These less traveled areas often have unknown problems until significant symptoms arise.

It's important to know that home inspectors are generalists. The majority are not usually architects, structural engineers, plumbers, electricians, or heating and cooling contractors. Inspectors do not perform the corrective work because it would create a conflict of interest and work against the standards of practice in the industry. The home inspector makes visual observations of the components and parts of a house and interprets those observations. Home inspectors don't warranty the components and parts that they have inspected; they are simply offering an opinion. After the inspection, the client will receive a report about the operation of the systems and any defects.

An example of a report delivered to the homeowner is a three-ring binder divided into eight systems under the headings: Structure, Electric, Plumbing, Heating/Cooling/Ventilation, Basement/Crawlspace, Kitchen, Interior, and Exterior. The notebook allows clients to read about the problems as discovered by the home inspector along with their significance and solutions to those problems. The notebook also takes the homeowner through the operations of the components and systems and how best to maintain them. Maintenance is the homeowner's best friend. If you are interested in learning about the operation of the house, accompany the inspector and ask questions. Don't hesitate to point out problems that you notice-the more eyes the better.

The most important part of an inspection is to be able to understand what the observations mean. At the conclusion of an inspection, the inspector should put the problems in perspective. Once you've sorted through the major and minor defects, you have to consider which repairs need immediate attention and which can be deferred to a later time. No house is in perfect condition, and you should have money tucked away for fixing unforeseen problems.

One last word of advice: When looking for a home inspector, ask for their credentials and make sure that they are a member of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). ASHI is the leader in accrediting inspectors and ensuring that they adhere to a national standard and practice. At this time, home inspectors are not licensed in the state of Maryland due to the state's financial problems. (A bill was passed a few years ago to license home inspectors but no money was allocated to govern the industry.)

Whether you are selling or buying a home, a home inspection is a highly recommended procedure. It will lay the foundation for a more satisfying and enjoyable experience of home ownership.


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Powerboat Show
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Renaissance Festival
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County Fair

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