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Home Inspection Helper

More home sellers, in an attempt to better control negotiations, are investing in pre-inspection, which allows for repairs (or full disclosure of repairs needed) before listing.

A home inspector will carefully examine the property and then prepare a written report that describes the construction of the home and the working condition of all its systems. Many inspectors will also include digital photographs of defects.

A professional home inspection can save you money and headaches. It's a good idea to attend the home inspection, and bring your own home inspection checklist during the walk-through.

Anatomy of a Home Inspection

A home inspection report is an invaluable resource since it outlines the overall condition of your property and its major systems, and identifies major and minor repairs that dictate the closing price of the home. All home inspections include careful assessments of the following categories:

General Information. Persons present during the inspection, age of the house, construction type and style, weather and soil conditions, and the house's orientation (direction the house faces).

Description of the Lot. Grade, yard drains, driveway, landscaping, patio, fences and gates, outside faucets, and retaining walls.

Foundation, Crawlspace and Slab. Accessible areas, moisture penetration, piers, foundation walls, floor joists, sills, girders, subfloor, insulation, ventilation, sump pump, vapor barriers, visible slab cracks, and signs of settling.

Home's Exterior and Interior. Siding, shutters, trim rot, paint and caulking, fascia, soffits, eaves, porch, deck, deck rails, doors, garage, and windows.

Current State and Longevity of Roof. Materials, style, flashing and roof penetrations, skylights, gutters, downspouts, rafters, and other upper framing elements, roof decking, water penetration, ventilation, insulation, and attic access.

Chimney and Fireplace. General condition, gas logs, damper, chimney condition, flue liner, signs of settling, and loose masonry.

Electrical System. Service entrance, service wires (size and types), grounding equipment, panels, protection, 110 volt and 220 volt circuits, receptacles, light fixtures, switches, and safety concerns.

Heating and Cooling Systems. Air temperature rise and drop, general condition, unit descriptions, energy source, total capacity relative to area served, and approximate age.

Plumbing System. Water supply, well pump, shut-offs, pressure pipes, water heater, waste water disposal, plumbing fixtures, laundry connections, and bathrooms.

All Interior Spaces. Floors, walls, smoke alarms, ceilings, stairs, and doors.

Current State and Longevity of Appliances. Unit manufacturers, dishwasher, disposal, oven and energy source, range and energy source, refrigerator, trash compactor, and microwave.

Benefits for Sellers

As the seller, it's an excellent idea to get your home inspected before listing it. Research shows that buyers negotiate $2 for every $1 worth of repairs found during a home inspection. For instance, if your foundation needs significant repairs at a cost of $1,000, buyers will negotiate to have $2,000 deducted from the sale price.

Getting your own inspection prepares you for any problems that a buyer's inspection will reveal, giving you the chance to make any repairs, and avoid hassles when negotiating the sale. A pre-inspected home also shows that you are operating in good faith and in full disclosure.

Sellers (and buyers) must remember that an inspection is simply an examination of the current condition of a home. It is not an appraisal or a municipal code inspection. An inspector, therefore, will not "pass" or "fail" a building, but will simply describe its condition and indicate which items need repairs or replacements.

Note: If you're comfortable inspecting the property on your own, and feel qualified to assess its condition adequately, a do-it-yourself home inspection can be an acceptable alternative to hiring a professional.

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