The Home Inspection
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
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.