The Home Inspection: Not a Pass-Fail Test
You’ve found your perfect home and reached an agreement with the sellers. The next step? You hire a compulsive house nerd to come in a find it’s imperfections.
Buzz kill? Sometimes it is.
But I think of it as your little “getting to know you” time with your new place – and forget about perfection. Every house, whether it’s new construction or an 1800′s Victorian in Georgetown, will have some issues. And this is what I want the buyers home inspector to do to help them make a wise decision:
- Go over the systems and to make sure they are operating properly or, if they are not, to give them some idea of how much it will take to fix them.
- Look at the structure – foundation, walls and roof – to make sure the place will remain standing and keep the occupants safe and dry. And if there are problems, are they fixable, and for how much.
- This might be the most important part – showing the new buyers where the emergency water and electrical cut off valves are, how to empty the hose bib before winter comes, and what steps they need to take to keep water out of the basement.
- Point out anything in the house or yard that could be a hazard, from the beautiful wisteria vine growing up over the front porch to the slippery paint used on the floor of the front porch and steps.
There is almost nothing an inspector can find that can’t be fixed. When he finds something that’s a challenging or very expensive fix, you have some thinking to do – and perhaps some negotiating with the sellers over who pays for it. And a lot will depend on what exactly your contract says about the property condition.
If you are dealing with “normal” sellers, there may be contract language that requires them to have the appliances and systems in working order at settlement, at least that’s how our DC area contract boilerplate is written. If, on the other hand, you are buying a distressed property, the bargain price will include an “as is” clause meaning you have to pay for any repairs that are needed.
So the inspection is not really a test that the house either passes or fails.
And, as Gilda Radner used to say, “There’s always something!”