Inspecting Your Home | Great Advice | Wilmington NC real estate


The purchase of a home is the single most costly investment most people make, and you want to know what you are getting for your hard earned money. Inspections are a great way for home buyers to assure themselves that the home they are buying is in good condition.

A real estate agent will not determine the condition of the property. It is your responsibility, as a buyer, to ascertain the condition of the property. A licensed, professional inspector is best qualified to make an unbiased and objective evaluation of the functionality of each item or if it is in need of repair. The seller is not required to repair any items, but in the event he/she chooses not to, then the buyer may terminate.

What will the inspection cover?

An inspection will usually cover, at a minimum, those items specifically mentioned on the offer to purchase and contract. However, the inspector will not limit himself to those items.

An inspection typically will include all structural items, mechanical and electrical systems and appliances, as well as checking for water penetration.

Termites, gas line, swimming pool/spa, sprinkler systems, septic systems and environmental inspections are usually additional investigations, and these additional services may or may not be offered by a particular inspector.

Cosmetic items are usually not noted because they are not included in your contract. The seller may have agreed in the contract to repair only those items listed up to a certain dollar amount.

What should you look for in selecting an inspector?

At a minimum, expect an inspector to be licensed or certified. Sometimes membership in a home inspectors� association will ensure the inspector has committed himself to a certain code of ethics and policies.

Are all mechanical/structural inspections the same?

No. Some inspectors will check items like shower pans, window air conditioning units, gas lines, windows, decks, patios, oven temperatures, water heater temperature and pressure relief valves, solar heating systems, attic insulation, etc., while other inspectors may not look at those items. Ascertain, up front, what items will be inspected and include everything you think is important.

How long will an inspection take?

A complete structural and mechanical inspection of an average 2,000 sq. ft home on a slab foundation will usually take about four to six hours. Additional inspections of pier and beam foundations, swimming pools and sprinkler systems will take longer.

You, the buyer, should be present at the inspection to address any questions that arise regarding problems discovered during the process and to receive maintenance tips the inspector passes on. The inspection report should be provided promptly so repair requests are submitted within the contract time.

How much will an inspection cost?

Inspection costs depend on home size, add-ons and the inspector. Cost is too often a deciding factor in selecting an inspector.

When purchasing a $100,000 home, a $10 to $15 difference in price may prevent a buyer from choosing the more experienced inspector. Many inspectors invest considerable time and money in education for their clients, providing handouts, taking pictures of any damage, and detailing information in a helpful way, as you evaluate your potential purchase.

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