A Guide to Pre-Purchase House Inspections: What You Need to Know

Pre-Purchase House Inspections

A house will likely be one of the most significant investments you make. Just as you’d do your due diligence for other investment types like stocks and mutual funds, it pays to do the same for your family home. 

Doing your due diligence on real estate can often involve a pre-purchase house inspection. With the information you learn in a house inspection, you can decide whether it’s the right property to buy at the right price. 

However, if you’re new to the property market, you won’t always know what a property inspection is or its value in the house-buying process. You can learn more about this helpful service below. 

What Is a House Inspection?

Type building inspections and your location, such as ‘building inspections Adelaide,’ into a search engine, and you’ll find several businesses offering house inspections. They are often described as building inspections or pre-purpose inspections to find defects and safety hazards. Experienced building inspectors will look for: 

  • Defects that require addressing quickly
  • Major defects that need professional help
  • Superficial defects or standard maintenance requirements
  • Signs of pests
  • Safety hazards
  • Anything else of concern 

While you might notice some problems yourself during a property tour, house inspectors typically use their experience and various high-quality tools to find flaws you might have otherwise missed. You can then make a well-informed decision about whether you wish to buy the property. 

Using the House Inspection Contingency

Many prospective home buyers wonder what happens if they find significant flaws during a house inspection of a property they’re considering buying. Sometimes, these faults can be so major, such as cracks in the foundation, that you no longer want to buy the property. 

You can use a house inspection as a contingency in your house-buying agreement. Doing so means you don’t legally have to proceed with your purchase within a specific timeframe if you identify significant defects and no longer want to proceed with the sale. 

While many would-be homeowners use this contingency for older homes, you can also use it for new builds. These inspections typically include the foundations, pre-drywall structure and mechanics, and a full inspection of the completed home. With housing quality considered to be declining in the United States, pre-purchase inspections are often recommended for both new and older builds. 

What’s Involved In a House Inspection?

When you work with highly regarded house inspectors, you can expect a thorough inspection of any property you intend to buy. After all, the more intensive the inspection, the more information you can learn about its possible defects and ongoing maintenance requirements. 

Most inspectors start by identifying minor defects, major defects, and issues that pose a safety risk. They also specify whether anything would require replacement now or in the future or should be repaired or maintained. 

Inspections cover two main areas: interior and exterior. Exterior inspections typically cover everything outside a structure, including under the house and the roof. You should expect detailed information on the: 

  • Property grading
  • Foundation
  • Exterior walls
  • Roof
  • Garaging and carports 

Once your home inspector makes their way inside, they can thoroughly inspect the: 

  • Plumbing
  • Electrical systems
  • HVAC systems
  • Water heaters
  • Appliances that come with the house
  • Bathrooms
  • Laundry room
  • Fire safety for fire rating compliance 

It can pay to ask what your chosen housing inspector won’t inspect so you can decide whether you need to utilize the services of another professional alongside your inspector. For example, some house inspectors don’t specialize in pipe and sewer line inspections, but you can request this service elsewhere. 

Generally, most house inspectors won’t look inside walls by cutting open drywall, nor will they inspect the insides of chimneys or behind electrical panels. You also shouldn’t typically expect a pest inspection unless there are obvious signs of pests. However, many house inspectors provide an add-on pest inspection for peace of mind. 

Your Options After a Property Inspection

A property inspection can be a defining moment in the property-buying journey. You typically know the most about a property and can make a well-informed decision. This is sometimes when buyers decide whether to proceed with a purchase or walk away if their offer is contingent on an inspection. 

Some problems can be so severe and expensive to fix that some prospective purchasers decide to walk away. This is possible when your offer is contingent on a positive property inspection outcome. Others choose to negotiate with home sellers. You are within your rights to ask a seller to fix the problems, reduce the purchase price to reflect the issues or provide a cash credit so you can fix them yourself. 

If properties are bank-owned or being sold as-is, you can consider whether you have the future funds to rectify the problems and live in the property happily. 

Are House Inspections Worth It?

House inspections can cost a few hundred dollars or more to buy with reputable property inspectors. This cost can put many would-be buyers off, especially when they’re already paying a significant sum for lawyers, realtors, brokers, and mortgages. However, property inspections can be worth the money for many reasons, including the following: 

Save Money

Spending money doesn’t always mean saving money, but it can in the instance of a property inspection. If you’ve made your offer contingent on an inspection, and your chosen inspector finds significant faults, you can walk away from the sale.

If you purchased a property without an inspection, those faults are generally yours to remedy at your cost. In the long run, house inspections have the potential to save you tens of thousands of dollars.

Learn Your Property’s Faults

No property is flawless. Even new builds can have defects that tradespeople have to remedy. However, building inspectors can ensure you’re aware of them. If you still decide to proceed with a purchase, you can use your property report as a property maintenance guide.

Make the Sales Process Easier

It’s not just home buyers who can benefit from property inspections. House sellers can, too. If you invest in a property inspection before selling your home, you can be in an excellent position to rectify issues that might otherwise drag out the sales process.

You are not legally required to request a pre-purchase house inspection. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Now that you know what’s involved and their value in the house-buying process, you might decide to call a house inspector when you find your potential dream home.


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