2007 Oct 16th

What Everybody Ought To Know About Home Inspections

Home Inspectors Are Not All Created Equal

An important part of buying a condo and, especially a house, is the home inspection. Most sales contracts give the buyer a right to have the property examined by a home inspector. You should be there during the inspection and should take notes. There is much valuable information a home buyer, especially a first time home owner, can learn during the inspection process.

There are some big companies in the home inspection business who operate in the Hoboken area. Housemasters is one of them. They do the inspection and give you a nice, fancy package afterward with your report and information on general maintenance of your home. There are a number of individuals who are inspectors as well. Some of them are excellent. Before you choose one, ask for references. See if other buyers have been satisfied with their services. Many realtors will attend the home inspection along with the buyer. So they’ve been through many inspections and can recommend a few competent inspectors to you. Regardless of who you choose you should know that –

Inspectors do not check most things that they cannot see

If there is mold behind the sheet rock, or a problem with the electrical system only on hot days when the a/c is running full blast the inspector may not find the problem. What they will do is test all the appliances, look at the plumbing and check for obvious leaks or signs of water damage, run the heating and cooling systems, test the electrical sockets and look at the circuit boards, examine the windows and a few other things. If the condo you are buying is new construction, you are probably covered by a new homeowners warranty should you move in and find out that something isn’t working properly. The older the property, the more likely there are to be problems from wear and tear.

Inspectors don’t typically check the common areas in condo buildings.

Since you own from the skin of the walls inward, most inspectors are not going to include problems in the hallway or with the roof as part of the scope of their inspection. Common elements are the responsibility of the condominium association. Problems in the common areas affect you only in so far as the cost of repairs comes from the buildings reserve fund and your maintenance payments.

Inspectors are not structural or building engineers

If you’re buying a 100 year old house or have some other reason for concern it might be worth it to have an engineer perform your inspection. While it may cost more you may avoid a costly issue down the road.

If problems are discovered the seller may have to repair or pay to repair them

Even though your purchase price has been agreed upon, in many instances when problems arise during the home inpection process, the buyer will go to the seller through their attorneys or realtors and request that repairs be made at the sellers expense or that a monetary credit be given the buyer to pay for the needed work. Most buyers prefer to do the work themselves and will take the payment rather than the repair. If the work is not done or an amount cannot be agreed upon between you and the buyer you may have the right to cancel the contract and get your money back. You should know what your contract says about home inspection so ask your lawyer.

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  1. Wayne

    Contrary to your statement, most home inspectors DO check the common areas, especially the roof. When buying a condo, an owner has a vested interest in all the common areas which may affect maintenance fees, and should know if there any deficiencies. The only reasons not to check a roof is if it’s dangerous or there is no access.

  2. Tony

    Why feature Housemasters with a link. If this is paid for it should be disclosed.

  3. Lori

    Wayne,
    Maybe your company checks the common areas – you are affiliated with a home inspection company although you didn’t bother to mention that – but the ones I’ve worked with have not in most cases.

    Tony,
    I don’t accept paid links. If I link to a site it is through my own decision to do so – not for advertising. There is no paid advertising on this site.

    – Lori

  4. Luciano Marquez, NJ Home Inspector

    As a licensed NJ home inspector with 15 plus years experience, I do check the common areas of the condo building, not just the unit. What client of mine would want to buy into a building that is poorly maintaned? I’ve found many problems, from deteriorated roofs, cracked foundations to leaking boilers. Problems which could cost my client a huge assessment after they become the new owner of the unit. It is prudent for the buyer to ask the home inspector what they check! The State of NJ has standards: http://www.state.nj.us/lps/ca/nonmedical/hiac.htm that must be followed along with insurance requirements and continuing education.

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