WHY HAVE YOUR HOME INSPECTED?
There are good reasons why you should have your future home inspected. But before we go into that, you must ask yourself: do you want the cheapest inspection, or do you want a professional inspection?
Some inspectors can be alarming and point the way for their own company to get maintenance work, to fix up very minor details of your future home. Some inspectors will want to write about every little thing wrong about the building that they can find, and much of it is simply unnecessary if the building is aged. In such a case real issues might get missed.
A professional inspection would be one that notes everything, highlights the most concerning details – structural concerns – at the front, and has the other data in the report, but notes how relevant it is to the age of the building and the circumstances of the building.
In other words, one would not note every scratch and scuff of every room, and somewhere there also note that there were termites found, which might be missed by the reader.
In a twenty year old building it might be enough to state the building’s age, that it appears to have been ten years without refurbishing, and thus has the associated wear and tear of such a home of that age. Then on top of that note any major significant defects. But in a brand new home it might be important to note that three tiles were scratched on the floor of the bathroom, and provide photographs. The circumstances are different and the reports are too.
The person ordering the inspection has to work this out. He has to know who his inspector is, and likely this is why people who move from house to house will find a professional inspector, and keep them over decades.
So what makes a professional inspector? Inspectors who come from a professional building background will obviously have an edge on the same inspector who comes from a non-construction background. And there are many who have no qualifications at all. So find out and ask. The best qualified inspectors will have it noted on their website somewhere.
A builder will know all the ins and outs of how someone can fudge and obscure construction errors. The same is for an engineer or architect who moves into building inspections. These people can stand back from the house, seeing what is on the surface to be seen, and ask themselves why certain blemishes might appear, and then trace those back to their source errors. A professional inspector will not just find a crack and report it; he will and should determine the cause of the crack in the first place. This takes a thorough knowledge of building procedure.
So this is why it is wise to get a professional building inspection. If you are not in the building profession and you see a slight crack somewhere, you may not be able to see at a glance that the crack is inside a patch and that the building is moving. A professional is more likely to see it and be able to look for telltale signs indicating where that crack initially come from.
Cracks can come from building settlement, trees and vegetation withdrawing moisture from the soil, different materials interacting with each other – bricks grow (absorb moisture) while concrete shrinks in time, termites and timber pests, different materials heating and cooling at different rates, and other reasons. If you are buying a home you are best to know why.
But regardless of their knowledge, know that most inspectors will not crawl through openings that are too small, and they will not move furniture, and they will not do an invasive inspection. That is, they will not dig into a wall, or try to get below the surface of the building they are inspecting. Usually their terms and conditions state this. So, if possible have this worked out before the inspector arrives.
When you buy your home you really want to know that it is what you think it is. You do not want to pay half a million dollars to find you then need to pay a lot more.
Professional building inspectors also carry professional indemnity insurance and that helps you sleep. Obviously an inspector is not equipped with x-ray vision. But this does not mean he cannot observe, and cannot use tools, such as moisture meters, to find leaks behind showers and so forth. However, it does mean that he cannot always really tell what is behind the surface of what he sees. What he has is decades of experience, and it is that experience you are calling upon when you need his help.
Is it worth paying that money to have your home inspected? It is likely that the money you spend will give you peace of mind. It will also give you information about the building so that you can ask to have it fixed if it is a problem. As a social phenomenon it also keeps people honest. But in the end it is up to you.
We hope this article was useful.
Nick Broadhurst is the author of science fiction books, children’s picture books, and comics. He also writes articles on contemporary philosophy. For a living he is an architect, building contractor, building inspector, and worked in many countries.