Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Are Home Inspections Required?

[This article first appeared in the Chattanooga Times Free Press]

Q: Is a home inspection required when you are buying a home?
A: Home inspection services can help ease the confusion and stress of buying a house. However, they are not required. When you are buying a home, there are things that you can choose like the price range and location. But whether you are planning to get a new home or an existing one, you still have to worry about the unknown. Especially, does the home have any problems that could be very costly later down the road?

Knowing if there are any problems before you purchase can be very beneficial to both your finances and the safety of your family. You can find out if there are any problems with the home by hiring a professional home inspector. Their services should provide you with a professional assessment. It should be an unbiased review of the condition of the home and mechanical components. Also, you should also be informed of any routine maintenance that should be performed.

You should ask questions to help you become familiar with the house. Make sure that the review includes foundation walls, framing, the roof and attic, the electrical system, heating and air conditioning systems, all bathrooms, the kitchen and the plumbing system. Depending on the square footage, this will take anywhere from three to five hours to complete. Typically, the buyer is encouraged to attend and be with with the home inspector during the process

You should receive an expert evaluation and a thorough written report about the condition of the dwelling, the physical structure and various systems within it. The report should include all this information along with pictures so that it will help you with any decisions you need to make about any needed repairs.

The home inspector that you decide to use should be trained and certified. In Tennessee, a license is requiredto perform a home inspection. Also, you can check to see if they are certified by an independent organization such as the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). Don't be afraid to ask for proof that their people are trained and certified. If they will not guarantee their work, hire someone different.

Your home is likely to be the largest purchase you will ever make. Properly done, a home inspection should provide you with peace of mind about your new investment. The cost is minimal compared to the price of your purchase.

Get answers to questions you might have about real estate from Randy Durham, who is president of the Chattanooga Association of Realtors. He also is a broker with Keller Williams Realty. His column appears weekly on Tuesdays. Send your questions to Business Editor John Vass Jr. at jvass@timesfreepress.com