by Mike Holmes
You’ve seen those television programs and magazine articles that offer tips on how to increase the selling price of a home with quick cosmetic fixes. Knowing how to hide existing problems with a little ”lipstick and mascara” helps the seller, but what about the buyer? A coat of paint can hide a world of grief.
If you’re buying a home you need to know what’s a fair asking price. Looks are deceiving. A good home inspection can give a buyer some leverage to renegotiate the selling price–especially if the inspection report discloses a major deficiency. If the home has a leaking roof or foundation, the repairs can be tens of thousands of dollars. That’s important to a buyer.
Invest in some peace of mind by getting an independent professional to make sure the home is as good as it looks. Usually a real estate agent will recommend a home inspector. But remember: Your real estate agent wants to make a sale.
Your real estate agent’s commission is based on the final price of the house. Your home inspection report can be used to renegotiate or lower the final price. It’s not impossible to imagine some home inspectors turning a blind eye to certain problems—to keep the selling price up. This helps keep up a good relationship with the realtors who give them referrals.
As a homebuyer, you need independent, unbiased advice. But not all home inspection reports are created equal. Some aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on. A homeowner recently gave me with a copy of their home inspection report. All I can say is I’m glad I didn’t pay for it.
I’ve seen home inspection reports that are 25-pages or more. They seem impressive but beware. They often overlook hidden problems. It’s common for a typical report to say an inspector can’t move any of the homeowner’s belongings, so they can’t comment on anything that was covered at the time of the inspection. Or that the inspector examined the roof and chimney from the ground. I don’t know what kind of a roof inspection you can do without even getting up a ladder.
This explains why some inspectors miss major defects–dangerous electrical junction boxes, defective natural gas venting, mould and bad plumbing. You can’t see behind walls but often, obvious clues are overlooked. A good inspector will give you the heads-up.
If you want to know if a house is safe and sound, spend some time looking for your own certified home inspector. It’s just as important as finding the right contractor. Do your research. Ask for referrals, talk to previous clients, and look at the inspector’s track record. Do they use a thermal camera? Do they have level 1 certification in thermography? Do they have insurance? How much? Do they use a ladder? This is stuff you need to know to hire the right pro.
Hiring a good home inspector maximizes your chances of getting a fair and unbiased evaluation. They can tell you if a home meets proper building code and safety guidelines. For a homebuyer, this information can be worth thousands. For their safety, it’s priceless.