After choosing the right home & negotiating a sales contract successfully, most buyers next look at protecting & maintaining this important asset. The quality of your home inspector is key to learning how to care for you new home.
Home inspectors should fulfill three important functions:
1) to perform a general physical examination of the home (like going to your doctor for a physical) and create a report for you, including specific tips for you which will help you to maintain the home. Just like regular oil changes for your car, your home will need regular maintenance so that it functions well. Regular maintenance will help you prevent more costly repairs at a later date.
2) to answer questions you have about caring for your new home, including "How long can I expect this hot water heater to last?" or "How many layers of shingles are on my roof?" or "What is the current level of radon in my basement?" It is important that you attend the home inspection. There is no substitute for picking the inspector's brain while you are both looking at the house. This allows the inspector to provide specific answers which apply to your home (i.e. That 120 gallon electric water heater was manufactured in the 1940s and may never wear out, however it will really boost your electric bill so you may want to consider replacing it).
3) to help you determine if any of the major operating systems (electrical, plumbing, heating) or the structure of the home itself need major repairs, especially if those repairs could not have been determined by you and/or your real estate agent before you made your offer to purchase the property. Every so often, there are homes that require major renovation or repair before they are safe and sound. You want to know this before you take title to the property! The Property Condition Disclosure Report completed by the seller is no substitute for a good home inspection.
So how do you choose a home inspector?
In the State of Connecticut, home inspectors have only needed to be licensed and fufill minimal requirements (graduating from high school, taking a course on home inspection, passing a test, performing supervised inspections) since the year 2000.
It is a crime to perform a home inspection if you are not licensed. The question for you is "How qualified should my home inspector be?" As an agent who appreciates the value of having more education and experience than the average agent, I recommend home inspectors who are members of the American Society of Home Inspectors and have the right to use the ASHI designation.
In most cases, your real estate agent will give you a list of inspectors to choose from. Do yourself a favor and visit the ASHI website to learn more about home inspections and make a wise choice:
or paste this into your browser: http://www.ashi.org/find/