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Safe and Sound: Value of a Home Inspection

Unlike other major purchases such as an automobile or a college education, your visits to and use of a home before you actually live in it are very limited. You can’t “try before you buy” when you’re shopping for a house or condominium. As a home buyer you seek out a property that fits your aesthetics, household needs and price range. Much of a home’s value (and eventual cost to you) rests in how sound the property and its systems are – but the untrained eye isn’t able to determine the significance of common home issues that might be apparent during a walk-through.

A home inspection is designed to give you the information you need to decide if you can accept the home as it is, if you’d be willing to buy it under certain conditions (such as the sellers addressing certain issues before closing), or if you should keep shopping for the right property. A home inspection first and foremost lets you know whether the property is safe to occupy. Assuming the home is safe, the inspection then reviews the condition of the home’s structure (foundation, roof, walls, interior and exterior) and systems (electrical, plumbing, air and heating systems) so you can determine the degree of upkeep, anticipated repairs and other work you’d need to do to maintain a safe and habitable property.

Is this an older home that has, over time, been updated with newer materials? Does the property have updated electrical wiring? Is it a newer property made with sensitive materials, such as synthetic stucco? If the home is in a moist climate, is there evidence of water penetration? If the home is in a dry climate, is there evidence of insect infestation or a risk of fire? Are there any signs of deterioration? Is the foundation settling? How is the roof holding up? Inspections answer these questions and many more so that you can make an informed decision about buying and maintaining the property.