Home inspectors are an underappreciated, often quickly maligned and even demonized lot. As with every industry, some are better than others. Their job is to point out every imperfection – be it code deviation or function – in a property, and the results of their findings often makes even the nicest home seem like a shanty on paper.
Home inspections typically run from $300 – $600 depending on the property’s square footage and extra services (termite inspection, sprinkler system, pool) required. They are jacks-of-all-trades and masters of none, and when they notice a deficiency in a property, they often defer their prognoses to experts such as plumbers and HVAC technicians. Although their reports are comprehensive, they only address “components and conditions that are present, visible, and accessible”. They can turn the air conditioner and heater on and off, but they cannot remove the condenser coils or dissect the compressor. They can note an exhaust vent is insulated with an unknown substance, but they cannot cut it open to determine if it’s asbestos. Essentially, they are bound by law to perform a broad overview of the home, but they must do so with their hands behind their back, so to speak.
With this in mind, should you spend the money to purchase an inspection? Absolutely. It would take a half-dozen contractors, from HVAC techs to structural engineers to plumbers – to do what they do, and although a home inspection is nowhere near the detail of these individual specialists, it would be virtually impossible to hire contractors whose reports would overlap what an inspector reviews. Inspectors are not perfect, and even the best ones err, but at the same time their services are essential, not only in providing an overview of a property’s condition, but in giving a buyer peace-of-mind with his or her purchase.