Matthew Steger WIN Elizabethtown

Why is a home inspection so important?

When searching for a home and putting in an offer, there is one important step that should never be overlooked. This goes for whether buying a brand new construction home or a home that's 100 years old. It's the home inspection. Time is of the essence when buying a home.. you want to find the perfect home for you and your family and, if your offer is accepted by the seller, the clock starts rolling on all sorts of things that need to get done in a short period of time. The appraisal, the insurance quote, the home inspection, etc. 

Some home buyers are under the impression that they don't need a home inspection done. They figure either the builder got everything 'right', the township or city code inspector didn't miss anything important, or the home owner has taken perfect care of their home during their years of ownership. From years of experience inspecting homes, I can attest that all homes should be thoroughly inspected by a qualified home inspector as you never quite know what you are buying without an educated professional unbiased set of eyes to look over the home completely. Some Realtors advise their buyers who to hire and some Realtors leave it to the buyer to research and make the home inspection hiring decision. It is the buyers, after all, who have to live with the result of hiring a professional home inspector who will be looking out for their client's best interests.  To the vast majority of most buyers (who rarely if ever hire a home inspector) all home inspectors are the same, however, this is definitely not the case.

A home inspection is a non-invasive visual inspection of the home's major systems. We don't move the seller's furniture or belongings (it is still their home and we must respect it), we don't punch holes in the walls or ceilings, and we can only inspect what we can safely access and see.

When researching and hiring a professional home inspector, the first thing to do is check out the website of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) (homeinspector.org).  ASHI's website has a 'find an inspector' search tool that you can enter the address and/or zip code of your new home to find a local ASHI Certified Inspector. ASHI is the oldest and most-respected organization of home inspectors in the US. ASHI is the GOLD standard of professional home inspectors and sets the most stringent standard of practice and ethical criteria for its members to follow. ASHI's highest membership designation is the ASHI Certified Inspector (ACI) status. There are other national and international home inspector associations out there, but only ASHI home inspectors follow the ASHI Standard of Practice and ASHI Code of Ethics. To the average home buyer, one association is the same as another other association but this is simply not the case. This is why it is so important for home buyers to do their research so that they are happy in the long run with whom they hired for inspecting their home.

Since inspecting homes starting in 2002, I've found many issues in all types of homes that can present a safety hazard, may be an expensive issue to repair, or simply a lot of DIY work that homeowners do to their homes. Without having a qualified professional home inspector on your side, how do you know if the home you are buying is safe for you and your family for many years to come? Your lender or insurance company won't require a home inspection be performed, but it's up to you to demand that your home purchase offer include your right to have a home inspection performed. This option is part of the PA Sales Agreement.

What could go wrong?

The home inspector should walk every room of your new home reporting on whether the major systems are functioning as intended and noting areas that do or may present a potential safety hazard or an expensive repair. We are looking at many areas of the home such as the roof, siding, heating/cooling, water heater, attic, electrical, plumbing, major kitchen appliances, and laundry hookup, just to name a few. We also test the windows and doors for proper fit and locking, wall receptacles and lighting to ensure functionality, run each sink, toilet, and bathtub to check for leaks, just as an example. A thorough complete home inspection generally takes about 3 hours for an average sized home.

Skipping the home inspection can cause you to miss out on finding the issues now, while you're still capable of negotiating with the seller. A foundation problem, a roof leak, a faulty furnace, or unsafe electrical system are among the many things that we find on occasion. These are not things you want to find after moving in and be stuck with the expense of repairing. A home inspection is not a guarantee or home warranty, but it's the buyer's best opportunity of learning about their home and finding out the issues. A home inspection is a snap-shot in time documenting the condition of the home's major systems at that time and date. A complete thorough home inspection helps ensure that the home is safe for your family and can help save considerable money down the road. Spending a few hundred dollars for critical information and peace of mind now is a wise investment for the future. As I always like to say 'a thorough home inspection will save you much more money than it will cost.'

Besides just getting a home inspection performed, most inspectors also offer additional auxiliary services such as termite/WDI inspections, radon testing, mold testing, infrared thermography, home energy score reports, well water testing, well flow analysis and more. Find a detailed list of services that we offer, click on the Services tab at the top of our webpage: https://elizabethtown.wini.com

What to do with the report

The inspector should provide the inspection report to you the same day as the inspection..normally via a web link or email. The report should be a detailed narrative report that is, essentially, a homeowner's manual. It should include digital photos of areas of concern, recommendations on maintenance (it may be something needing repair now or something to monitor over time in the future), and should also include preventive maintenance tips to have save you money and time down the road. I've seen inspection reports from quite a few local home inspectors and some of them provide little to no value while some others really do help the buyer in the home buying process. When making what is likely the biggest purchase of your life, do you want to rely on a 5 or 10 page yes/no checklist report with little useful information that the inspector created while spending only an hour in your new home? Or do you want a complete thorough report that is detailed and provides real value (and is also easy to read and understand) after a 3 hour complete inspection of the property?

Once you've fully read the inspection report (maybe even 2 or 3 times through completely) and reviewed it with your Realtor, your agent will walk you through the next steps in the process. Normally, that would be deciding what, if anything, you want to ask the seller to repair based upon the inspection report's findings. You should save your inspection report to refer to for years to come.


Have a topic you'd like to suggest for a future blog? Drop me a line at msteger@wini.com. You can see all of the technical and home inspection-related articles that I've written over the years at my website https://elizabethtown.wini.com and click on the "Resources" tab at the top and then Technical Articles.

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Matthew Steger, owner/inspector of WIN Home Inspection, is a Certified Level 1 Infrared Thermographer, an ASHI Certified Inspector (ACI), an electrical engineer, and a US Dept. of Energy Home Energy Score Assessor. He can be reached at: 717-361-9467 or msteger@wini.com.

WIN Home Inspection has provided a wide array of home inspection services in the Lancaster, PA area since 2002. This article was authored by Matthew Steger, ACI - owner of WIN Home Inspection in Lancaster, PA. No article, or portion thereof, may be reproduced or copied without prior written consent of Matthew Steger.