We’ve all been told that when purchasing a home, we should have a home inspection. It’s our opinion that it is not an option. Purchasing a home is generally the largest investment a person makes in their lifetime. Many home buyers lack the experience and knowledge to know whether a residence is in good condition or not. Real estate sales agents can be helpful, but since their focus is driven by commission, their opinion cannot be relied upon. Who, then, can you trust to help protect you and your hard-earned investment when buying a home? Who can uncover a home’s issues, and potential major defects, protecting home buyers from unnecessary repairs, money, and stress? You need to have a professional home inspection.
A home inspector’s job is to perform a physical assessment and inspection of a home. While they cannot foresee all of the problems that a home might have, they know how to search for potential issues with a home. They are experienced with the biggest home maintenance issues and cost. The home inspection process provides the buyer with their professional opinions of a home’s major systems, based on their training and level of experience. They provide potentional home owners with peace of mind.
We sat with Steve Volgyi, owner of EMES Home Inspections in Oak Park, MI, to ask him questions about what we can expect when hiring a home inspector and home inspections in general.
Who should consider using a home inspector?
Steve V.: Anyone who is about to buy a home. Even if the buyer is very knowledgeable, they might not be objective enough when looking at a potential home that they (or a loved one) might really want. First-time home buyers often don’t know what to look for, so we provide a good source of knowledge for them.
What are the benefits of getting a home inspection?
Steve V.: When you’re well informed about the condition of a home, you can use this newly acquired knowledge and a detailed inspection report to help with your price negotiations.
How does one go about finding a reliable home inspector?
Steve V.: Your real estate agent, friends, and word of mouth are all very good places to start looking for a home inspector. The internet is another place everyone uses to search these days. Be careful when hiring a total stranger—it’s just like searching for other qualified professionals. Check out their reviews and do your own due diligence. Make sure that you feel comfortable with them.
Are there licensing requirements or certifications for home inspectors?
Steve V.: That depends on your state. Michigan doesn’t regulate the home inspection industry. Unfortunately, anyone can call themselves a home inspector. Therefore, it’s extremely important to research and hire a qualified inspector. One way to do that is to see if the inspector has taken a qualified, industry-recognized course either from another state or from a nationally recognized course. Find out if the inspector is a member of a nationally recognized Home Inspector Association (there are about 3 or 4 of them). This will mean that they’ve been trained and tested, and must adhere to certain industry standards and practices.
Do home inspectors need to be insured?
Steve V.: Not necessarily, but you will want to make sure that your inspector is insured, both for “General Liability” as well as “Errors & Omissions”. Otherwise, if there is an accident during the inspection, or a costly mistake on their part, it would be very difficult to try and get reimbursed for any damage caused.
What is the basic process of a home inspection like?
Steve V.: An inspection consists of a non-invasive physical examination of a home’s systems, structures and components, intended to identify material defects that exist at the time of the inspection. The heating and cooling equipment is activated, along with operating plumbing fixtures. The home inspector tests accessible electrical outlets and fixtures, and operates a representative sampling of doors and windows. A visual inspection of the roof, attic crawl spaces, walls and drainage adjacent to the home are also included. If problems are found, then the inspector should advise the home buyer to obtain further inspections from licensed contractors. For example, if there is a problem with a roof, a roofing inspection should be performed by a licensed contractor.
How long does an inspection take?
Steve V.: It varies somewhat with the size and condition of the home. An average 2000-square-foot home will take approximately 2.5-3 hours.
Are home inspectors ever held legally liable for not disclosing a defect that they should have found in their home inspection?
Steve V.: If it’s something that’s part of the pre-inspection agreement, then usually “yes”. For instance, not all inspectors will inspect wells, and therefore it would be excluded in the pre-inspection agreement. However, if it’s something that should have been found & disclosed and the defect was missed, that’s when hiring a home inspector with insurance becomes very important.
About the Author: David Soble and his legal team have been advising individuals and business owners on real estate law for over three decades. Real estate is involved in almost every aspect of our lives. It is usually the largest asset that someone owns.