Buying a building can be stressful and time consuming. Obtaining a building inspection can take some of the worry out of the process. An independent building inspector should give a buyer a complete picture of the condition of the property he or she is considering buying. Most buildings are not perfect, and the inspector’s detailed report gives the buyer an unbiased evaluation letting him or her know what needs work now and what will probably need work in the near future. Obtaining a building inspection and reviewing the results with an experienced real estate attorney can put a buyer in an informed position to negotiate a favorable resolution of any issues prior to closing.
The building Inspection
The type of inspection that a buyer needs depends on many factors. Of course, every buyer should make his or her own basic inspection. A buyer should also obtain a professional whole-house inspection by a reputable person to uncover defects that may not be readily apparent. If the buyer is using an FHA or VA loan, a third, somewhat less thorough, inspection occurs at the time of the appraisal. The appraisal required by the lender is not as thorough and focuses on the value, not the condition, of the property. It does not substitute for an inspection.
An inspector does not evaluate whether or not a buyer is getting good value for his or her money. Rather, the inspector checks the safety of the building, focusing on the structure, construction and mechanical systems to determine whether any repairs are necessary. Generally, an inspector checks the electrical system, plumbing and waste disposal systems, water heater, insulation, ventilation, heating and air conditioning systems, water source, water quality, potential for pests, foundation, doors, windows, ceilings, walls, floors and roof. If the building inspector discovers a serious problem, the inspector may suggest a more specific inspection. A buyer should also consider having the building inspected for the presence of a variety of health-related risks, such as radon gas, asbestos or lead, if not included in the basic inspection.
Although a buyer need not attend the inspection, many buyers prefer to be present. Following the inspection, many building inspectors will answer questions about the report and any problem areas. The inspection also provides an opportunity to hear an objective opinion on the building’s quality.
The building Inspector
A buyer should hire a building inspector who is qualified and experienced. In many states, building inspectors must be licensed. A buyer should obtain an inspection before signing a written offer. If that is not possible, a buyer may include an inspection clause in the offer when negotiating for a building, giving the buyer an opportunity to back out of the contract if the inspection discloses serious problems. An inspection clause can also specify that the seller must fix certain problems or make monetary concessions for any problems before the buyer will purchase the property. A real estate attorney will understand the interaction between the inspection and the purchase agreement, and can assist the building buyer in negotiating appropriate terms regarding the inspection.
Speak to a Real Estate Lawyer
A wise buyer realizes that an extensive building inspection is a necessity, not a luxury, and that the cost of the inspection is money well spent. Inspections are designed to disclose defects that could materially affect the property’s safety, livability or resale value. Contact an experienced real estate attorney to guide you through the inspection process and assist you in interpreting the inspection results and its implications.
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