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Building Science by Norman Aceron Garcia

What matters in a home inspection?

by Norman Aceron Garcia

house cross sectionBuying a home is perhaps one of the most costly acquisitions one will ever make. For most people, this process can be very stressful. You are going to analyze your financial cash flow, look for mortgages, negotiate offers, and zero in on the best deals. The next best and logical thing to do before you sign on the dotted line is to get that quality home inspection. The information that you get from the inspection report gives you a picture of the overall condition of the property. And as a buyer or a seller, more information is sure to give you more leverage and bargaining power.

The stressful time spent in house hunting can push a buyer to just skip the process of getting a home inspection. Besides the obvious additional expense that it presents, it also gives the feeling of being overwhelmed since it becomes yet another “to do” item in the quest to find that dream home. This is when you should stop and think if this makes a difference in your decision-making. Should you just jump in and put all of your hard earned money into this one big financial investment? Or take a step back and let someone help you make an objective assessment of the property you have fallen in love with? The time and expense of getting a full home inspection is negligible compared to the total price of the property you are buying. And hiring a certified home inspector can give you that peace of mind, that you have done your due diligence in buying the property.

Most sellers are normally fair, honest, straightforward, and are oftentimes surprised to discover the defects found in an inspection. But do keep in mind that sellers have no obligation to disclose any defects or to even repair anything that has been identified in the inspection report. You buy the home on an “as-is” basis. No home is ever perfect. The purpose of the home inspection report is to serve as a guide to see the property’s current condition. Once the inspection is done, focus on the things that are important. Do not call off a deal over items that can be addressed easily, like cheap repair work you can do yourself. Also, the conditions that the seller has already disclosed may have already been factored in the pricing, so tread lightly if you feel that these conditions should still be addressed as a condition for you to buy the property.

Although home inspection can give you that peace of mind, that the property you are buying is not going to fall down on you, it can be overwhelming for some people. Homebuyers without any technical background are presented with a lot of information that they need to consider in a short amount of time. It basically includes reading a 30 to 50-page inspection report complete with checklists, photographs, environmental reports, seller’s disclosures, buyer’s observations, and everything that has been discussed during the actual inspection.

What should you do when you are in this situation? First things first, take a deep breath and relax. There is no home, even a newly built one, that is free from defects. Most statements in the inspection report are maintenance recommendations, life expectancies for various systems and components, and minor deficiencies. These are all good to be aware of prior to closing the sale. These issues fall into four categories:

  1. Major defects like structural failure of beams, columns and roof structure;
  2. Conditions that may contribute to major defects like small roof-flashing leak, improper grading and inadequate insulation;
  3. Items that may prevent your ability to finance, legally occupy, or insure the home; like the presence of knob-and-tube wiring, sub-100 amp electrical service, and screw-in fuses;
  4. Safety hazards like wobbly guardrails, exposed and live buss bar at the electrical panel and damaged service gas lines.

All items in the above categories should be addressed accordingly before or after buying the property to prolong the life of the home and to protect your most important asset, your family. And if you find yourself lost in the report, you can always ask your certified home inspector to guide you through it to be able to make an informed home-buying decision.


Norman is a registered Professional Engineer and a Certified Property Inspector. Please visit for more information on home inspection and maintenance tips.

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