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Flaws in judgment often made in the home inspection process

Posted On Thu, May 30, 2013

Before someone buys a home - what many consider to be the biggest financial investment a person will make in their lifetime - real estate experts say it's a good idea to have a home inspection done. While it may not be required in order to secure a mortgage, it's highly recommended, as something may be spotted that may be a safety issue.

But even if homeowners make a smart move and hire a professional home inspector, mistakes can be made that could negate that wise choice.

For instance, according to Bankrate.com, one mistake is choosing an inspector that's not as fully qualified as they need to be. Aaron Flook, a professional home inspector for a company based out of Pittsburgh, indicated that homeowners often select an inspector based solely on how much they charge.

"The least expensive person is often the person with the least experience, ability and technical savvy," said Flook. "If you want a referral from your real estate agent, ask for two or three different names, then interview each one to determine who you feel most comfortable with.

Not participating in the inspection process
Another error in judgment that many homeowners can make is not accompanying the inspector as they go about their testing. Flook told Bankrate.com that while the home inspector may be the professional and the one who ultimately knows if a residence is up to code, he behooves property owners to go along with them so that they can get a better understanding of the difference between what is correct and what needs to be fixed.

"You really need to go along with the inspector, ask questions and listen when he gives you his professional opinion on the house," said Flook.

Not implementing inspectors' suggestions
Something else that homeowners often get wrong is not taking advantage of the recommendations that the home inspector suggests. According to Kathleen Kuhn, president of a New Jersey-based inspection company, homeowners will often be apprised of an issue that needs further scrutiny. However, unless it's something that's serious, they'll often cast the recommendation aside, promising themselves to address it at a later date. The problem is that the longer homeowners wait, the more likely it is that what it takes to fix it will be that much more expensive.

While home inspectors may be trained to identify a problem, especially those that can become severe if they aren't addressed quickly, homeowners should bear in mind that home inspectors can only determine an issue if it's identifiable. In other words, they're not psychics.

Kuhn told Bankrate.com that if there aren't any observable signs of a problem, there likely isn't one. As for forecasting when one might happen, a home inspector may be able to provide an estimated time frame. For example, a roof typically has a lifespan of about 20 years. And an air conditioning system should operate without a problem for a minimum of 10 years. It's up to the homeowner to determine if they want to address an issue before it materializes or wait until there are visible signs of a flaw.

Actions taken after home inspection may result in cheap rates
Ultimately, how the home inspection process goes can have an impact on home insurance rates for policyholders. While home insurance may be required in order to secure a mortgage, implementing some of the strategies needed to make a home safer can result in insurance discounts, such as if a roof is replaced or a security system is installed.

Feedback or questions? Email the editor here.

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