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Cathy Little's Blog

By Cathy Little | Builder/Developer in Hamilton, VA

When Do You Need a Home Inspector?

When one thinks of an inspector, one might picture a private detective unearthing clues that lead to the scene of the crime.  When you hire a home inspector, you’re probably hoping that they will reveal any hidden “crimes” before you invest your money in that just-right home you finally found.  The home inspector cannot guarantee that they will findprivate detective every flaw, but at least you have a skilled detective looking for the clues.

If you’re buying an existing home, it is important that you get a certified home inspection.  But more importantly, you need to understand the findings.  The confusion often comes when the buyer and seller try to determine what to do next.  The short answer is:  Everything is Negotiable.  For example, if you’re buying a 15-year-old home with the original furnace, do you demand that the seller replace it, and must they?  You may have already figured that into your estimate of the value of the home, or the seller might have.   A good agent would have advised to price the house accordingly.

The seller is not required to repair any of the items found in an inspection.  And the buyer is not required to buy a home with flaws they were not aware of, if the contract is properly worded.  Fortunately, in most cases you can come to terms with each other.  As a buyer, you might find it to your advantage to handle the repairs yourself so that you can control the quality.   For example, you might want to negotiate a lower contract price and spend more on a high-efficiency furnace rather than accepting the cheapest one the seller can find.

In existing homes the only opportunity for inspection is after the walls are up and everything is concealed.  But for new homes there are several crucial opportunities during the home-building process.  We welcome certified, professional home inspectors in our process; many have helped us as we constantly strive to improve the quality of our product.  Although we’ve been at this for 35 years, we often learn new things and have had some great discussions on different approaches.

An inspector can save a homeowner lots of money and headaches by catching issues before they’re hidden away.  We recommend that you hire an inspector to come three or four times during the homebuilding process. (And if your builder doesn’t allow it, wonder Why.)

The first opportunity is before the earth is backfilled against the foundation.  Your inspector should check to see if the foundation drains properly and the waterproofing is correctly applied.

The second inspection should be before drywall and siding.  On the interior, they should check plumbing, mechanical and electric connections to ensure that they are intact and correct.  On the exterior, the flashing should be properly applied and the home envelope should be properly sealed, especially around windows and doors – you know, those areas you feel losing heat all winter long in a poorly-built home.

Bogart, private eyeThe final inspection would be the one most people are aware of – the usual drywall and plug check, and ensuring that the plumbing doesn’t leak and all systems are in order.

When you’re pricing the inspector ask that if there is a major flaw found at any stage, would they be willing to return and reinspect those items to ensure that they were addressed and corrected.

Loudoun County has some of the best inspectors for new home construction.  They are well trained but they also have a very limited amount of time.  Besides, their job is to check for building code violations, but there is a lot more to building a house than what is in the building codes.

In short, find a reputable detective, I mean, home inspector, to ensure that there are no skeletons in your new closets!

Fairhaven Homes has built custom homes since 1997.  Please visit our website for more information - www.4Fairhaven.com.

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