Never skimp on home inspections


How many inspections should I order?

The number of different inspections you order will depend on the property's age, condition and location, and on how much information you have about the property's condition when you make your offer. A property should be inspected sufficiently to answer any questions you have about its condition.

Make sure that your purchase contract includes an inspection contingency that is worded broadly enough to allow you to perform any inspections that you deem necessary. The contingency should also give you enough time to adequately inspect the property -- 10 days to two weeks is customary.

Some inspection contingencies give the sellers the option to remedy defects that the buyers find unacceptable. Other contingencies make approval of the inspections at the buyer's sole discretion. If you don't like the way the preprinted contingency is worded in the purchase agreement, modify it to ** suit your needs.

At the very least, you'll want to have a termite inspection. If these reports indicate conditions that warrant further inspections by specialists, such as a plumber, heating contractor, drainage expert, roofer or soil engineer, have these additional inspections done.

Sometimes sellers have inspection reports on the property that are made available to the buyers before they make an offer. A question that arises in many buyers' minds is whether they can rely on inspections that were ordered by the sellers. Reputable inspectors and contractors should give reliable opinions and estimates, but this is not always the case.

Reports from the sellers may indicate defects and the costs to correct them. For example, the sellers might know that their roof is shot, and they tell you so. If they provide you an estimate to replace the roof, and you're making an "as is" offer regarding the roof, make sure that the contractor will complete the job for you at the same price he quoted to the seller.

It's almost always a good idea for buyers to have their own general house inspection done. Even if the sellers had a general house inspection done by a reputable house in spector, a second opinion can't hurt, especially considering the expense involved in buying a house.

FIRST-TIME TIP: Inspections can be expensive, but they should not be skipped for the sake of saving money. It's not a good idea to rely on free inspections done by friends or relatives. And you shouldn't inspect a property yourself even if you have professional expertise.

Dian Hymer's column is syndicated through Inman New Features. Send questions and comments care of Inman News Features, 5335 College Ave., No. 25, Oakland, Calif., 94618.

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