Why have a home inspection?

Prior to January 1, 2003, home inspectors in Arizona did not have to be licensed by the state. Anyone could hang a shingle as a home inspector. Now all home inspectors must be licensed and pass an examination conforming to American Society of Home Inspectors standards, which are the same standards for the State of Arizona. 

What is the purpose of a home inspection? The Arizona Association of Realtors contract specifically provides a ten day inspection period after mutual acceptance of the contract. And there is language in the contract and repair addendum that permits the buyer to cancel the contract if the repairs are such that the buyer does not want to proceed with the contract. 

The purpose of the home inspection is for the buyer to determine the actual condition of the property. The inspector will check all mechanicals; furnace, air conditioner, evaporative cooler, water heater, plumbing, and the electrical system, including wall plugs. Appliances that convey with the home will be inspected including dryer venting, as well as the structural condition of the home; foundation, general condition such as holes in drywall or doors, drainage of site or soil slope at the foundation, exterior walls, chimneys, operation of windows and doors, and the condition of the roof. Sometimes the inspector will call for the assessment of other licensed experts such as plumbers, electricians, roofers, or engineers. 

The inspection report will detail areas of concern with the property. The buyer should only ask for repairs that are structural or mechanical in nature. Cosmetic items such as new paint or new floor coverings are not a part of the repair addendum. The buyer and the Realtor® sit down with the inspection report and prepare the request for repairs and this is submitted to the seller. 

If the buyer deems the repairs too extensive to proceed with the contract, he/she can withdraw from the contract at that point..If, after receiving the request for repairs, the seller determines that the repairs are too extensive, he/she can refuse to do the repairs. Generally, this is a negotiation process between the buyer and the seller and their agents until there is a meeting of the minds. 

If the buyer is obtaining FHA or VA financing, however, both FHA and VA require that the home be in specific condition and that a flat roof have a two-year roof warranty. The real estate agent should know the requirements of FHA and VA and the meanings of FHA and VA terminology. 

All of this points to the need for the seller to keep his/her house in good repair. Proactive sellers should have a home inspection prior to putting their house on the market.  The cost of a home inspection is nominal and will lay out problem areas of the home, that can be taken care of by the seller prior to listing his/her home. 

Spending money painting a home or installing new carpet might better be put into replacing a cooler or recoating an roof with elastomeric, since these problems will be discovered by the buyer during the home inspection. 

When requesting repairs, the buyer must only request repairs that conform to the building code at the time the house was built. Thus a home built in 1977 will not have Ground Fault Circuit Interruptors within six feet of any source of water. The inspector will recommend this as a safety item, but this was not a code item in 1977. 

Receiving an offer on a property is only the first step of a completed transaction. The home inspection will point out items that can be potential problems for the buyer. For a seller, the best defense is a good offense. Getting a home inspection prior to listing a property can save headaches for the seller as well as money!