Q: Shortly, I'm planning to buy a house for my family. Should I get a home inspection? Also, what should a good home inspection include?
S. Libowitz, Baltimore
A: A home inspection is always a good idea.
A home inspector will inspect the home and its structural components objectively, and without emotion. The inspector should be an independent third party.
The base price for a home inspection in the Baltimore metro area is about $175. However, homes with sales prices over $175,000 are usually slightly more expensive because larger homes often have more bathrooms, more kitchen appliances, and more family rooms that require more time to inspect.
A good home inspection should include, but not be limited, to the following:
* Interior plumbing system and its components;
* Roof, both as to structural soundness and leaks;
* Walls, ceilings and floors;
* Foundation (and basement);
* Built-in kitchen appliances and their components.
Many inspection companies also provide additional services, such as radon screening, septic system evaluation, well system evaluation, water quality testing, lead paint and asbestos testing. You may find a "package" that offers various combinations of these services at a reduced price.
How do you find a good home inspection company? Often your real estate agent will suggest several names of home inspection companies with whom they are familiar or they may suggest you call as many as five or six. There are a number of questions that you should ask over the phone:
* The cost of the home inspection?
* What does the home inspection include?
* Availability? Can the company perform the inspection at a time that is convenient for you?
* Inspector's background and/or training?
* Insurance. Coverage to back up their home inspection conclusions?
* Does the company issue an on-site report at the conclusion of the home inspection?
* Will the inspection company provide me with post-inspection home maintenance assistance?