What is a home inspection?
We hear this question A LOT! Home Inspections can vary from State to State depending on whether a State regulates Home Inspections or not, but in general, most home inspections have evolved to follow a fairly standard definition. Like most States, a Maryland home inspection is a visual examination of the home’s major structure, systems and components that are both visible and safely accessible. The inspector should substantially adhere to a Standards of Practice that outlines what will be covered during a general home inspection, as well as what is excluded. Some inspectors may strictly follow the Standards of Practice, while others may exceed the Standards and inspect other items, or perform a more detailed inspection. Whatever the inspector includes in his or her inspection should be disclosed prior to the inspection – this is known as the scope of work and is usually identified in the pre-inspection Agreement or Contract provided by the Home Inspection company. The inspector should be able to provide you with a copy or online link to the Standards of Practice they follow. After the inspection has been performed, the inspector should provide you with a written report as the deliverable, which may include photos and/or recommendations of his or her findings of the inspection. Here at Absolute Assurance, we adhere to InterNACHI’s Standards of Practice which also fulfills the required State of Maryland Standards of Practice. Click here to find out what is included and excluded in our Standards of Practice.
Why should I get a home inspection?
Buying a home is typically the biggest investment you will ever make, so it’s important to get a home inspection because the inspector should be able to discover and document defects that may or may not be obvious to you as a prospective buyer. Such defects can range from simple replacements or repairs, to severe damage or safety and health concerns. Additionally, most mortgage companies require a home inspection on a property before approving the home loan. Read InterNACHI’s Top 10 Reasons to Get a Home Inspection.
How can I be sure that a home inspector is qualified?
It is important to choose a home inspector who is qualified and holds a license or certification in the field. Many jurisdictions do not regulate home inspections, meaning that anyone could call themselves a home inspector. However, just because someone performs home inspections doesn’t mean that they’re actually qualified to do so. If you are buying or selling a home in an unregulated jurisdiction, make sure to look for a home inspector with the proper certifications. If you are located in a state or province that does require licensing of home inspectors, you should hire only a licensed professional.
Contact your state by phone or online to find out whether they license home inspectors, and what qualifications they’re required to have. Maryland requirements for licensed home inspectors can be found on DLLR’s webpage. License numbers in licensing states may vary in appearance, but you should be able to independently verify it. Here in Maryland, you can use the online DLLR Home Inspector License query tool to verify an Inspector’s license. Even if your state requires licensing, find out what qualifications and certifications your home inspector has earned – there can be a big difference in the amount of training and certifications from one Inspector to the next! The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors – InterNACHI®– is the largest and most trusted home inspector association in the world. Its members undergo rigorous training to become Certified Professional Inspectors (CPIs)®. They also follow a Standards of Practice and adhere to a Code of Ethics. Find out if your inspector is licensed and/or a CPI® before you hire him or her. This will ensure that you are hiring only an individual who has received the best training to become a home inspector.
How much does a home inspection cost?
There is no set cost for a home inspection. The cost will vary based on the inspector, the home’s size and age, the local market, the geographic region, the scope of the inspection to be performed, and more. Before the inspection, you should find out what will be included in the inspection and what won’t, and these details should also be outlined in the Inspection Agreement that you will need to sign prior to the inspection.
How long does a home inspection take?
Depending on the home’s age, size, and location, as well as the home inspector’s own work protocols and ethic, your home inspection may take three hours or more. Adding square footage, outbuildings, and/or ancillary services (such as mold or radon testing) will increase the required time. It may be necessary for your inspector to bring in a helper for a very large property. If your general home inspection takes significantly less than two to three hours, it may indicate that the inspector was not thorough enough. Here at Absolute Assurance, a good rule of thumb when estimating the amount of time a home inspection will take is one hour per 1000 square feet of home size.
At what point in the real estate transaction should I schedule a home inspection?
A home inspection is usually scheduled after an offer has been made and accepted, but before the closing date. That way, the inspector can rule out any major defects that could be dangerous or costly. In rare cases—due to timing or contractual issues—the inspection can be scheduled after the closing date. If this is the case, the home buyer should schedule the inspection for the earliest possible date after closing. In any case, your Real Estate Agent should be your guide to ensure you are getting your inspection done in enough time to comply with the Real Estate transaction time frames.
Should I be present for the inspection?
You should attend the inspection when possible, and you should reconsider hiring an inspector who doesn’t allow you to attend. You can learn a lot by following an inspector through the home and asking questions. You will certainly gain a better understanding of the home’s condition which will give you insight into its potential sale points and defects. Additionally, you will likely learn information about the home’s maintenance, systems and components that may provide useful for the transaction. If you are a first time home buyer, ask the potential Inspector if he or she is First Time Home Buyer Friendly – this will mean that he or she will take extra time to go over items in the home to give you a better comfort level with becoming a homeowner.
Can the home inspector also repair any defects he or she finds?
What if your home inspector is also a licensed contractor? Sounds great, right? Not always! Although it may seem convenient to have an inspector who is also a contractor, it poses a conflict of interest. According to InterNACHI’s Code of Ethics:
The InterNACHI member shall not perform or offer to perform, for an additional fee, any repairs or associated services to the structure for which the member or member’s company has prepared a home inspection report for a period of 12 months. This provision shall not include services to components and/or systems that are not included in the InterNACHI Standards of Practice.
The Maryland Code of Ethics for Home Inspectors also prohibits repairs by Home Inspectors for a period of 12 months. If an inspector financially benefits from finding any defects, this can impact the accuracy of the report (whether intentional or not). Make sure the inspector you hire abides by a Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice.
What happens if the inspection reveals problems?
If your home inspection reveals any problems, it is important to understand the severity of the defect. For example, a missing shingle or dirty air filter can be easily fixed at a low cost. However, if the defect is more extreme, such as a major foundation crack, major damage from water intrusion, or other structural or major systems issue(s), you should find out how these problems can be addressed, and whether you can negotiate their cost with the seller. If it is determined after you move in that your home has a severe defect that wasn’t reported by your InterNACHI® Certified Professional Inspector®, you should check to see if he or she participates in InterNACHI’s “We’ll Buy Your Home Back” Guarantee.
I hope that this article has helped to answer some of the Frequently Asked Questions regarding Maryland Home Inspections for Buyers and Sellers. Since the purchase of your home is likely one of the biggest investments you will make in your lifetime, it is important that you research potential Home Inspectors and ensure that you hire one who is licensed, insured, and well educated and qualified. Not all Home Inspectors are created equal! A good home inspector will provide you with return on your investment in the cost of the home inspection by providing you a thorough, comprehensive inspection and report and will answer your questions regarding your prospective property so that you are an informed and educated home buyer or seller. For the biggest investment of your life, you need Absolute Assurance!™
Call Absolute Assurance at 443-939-HOME (4663) for all of your Home Inspection needs including full and partial home inspections for buyers/sellers/investors, rental inspections, annual home inspections, mold inspection and testing, radon testing, and water testing!
Portions of this article are not the author’s original work and were sourced under copyright permission from the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI).