What to Expect on a Home Inspection in Southeast Michigan
A home inspection is a normal part of a home sale in Michigan. Some sellers have their home inspected prior to putting it on the market. Usually, however, getting and paying for the home inspection is the responsibility of the buyer. Depending on where the house is located, state law may require that the real estate contract include a home inspection contingency clause specifying that should the home inspection company uncover problems with the house, the buyer has the option to renegotiate the purchase price, negotiate repair costs with the seller, or cancel the sale altogether.
Technically, a house cannot ‘fail’ a home inspection since it is not done on behalf of the city or by a city inspector. It, therefore, has nothing to do with possible city code violations. Nor is it done for purposes of an appraisal to determine the home’s current market value. Rather, the home inspection report describes the overall condition of the house, garage, and grounds and states what, if any, systems and/or components require major repair or replacement.
What a Home Inspection Includes
The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) Standards of Practice set forth the minimum number of items a professional home inspector should inspect and what he or she should look for regarding each. Assuming the real estate contract does not specify additional things to be inspected, the typical home inspection will include the following:
- Structural elements
- Exterior surfaces
- Electrical system
- Heating and cooling systems
- Interior plumbing
- Safety elements
Outdoors the inspector will look at the way in which the house is constructed, paying particular attention to its foundation, whether or not there is any evidence of structural bowing or sagging, and if the windows and doors align. Next up is the exterior surfaces: is there proper clearance between the siding material and the ground? How good is the siding or paint? Are all outdoor lights and electrical and/or water connections working properly?
The inspector will then check the condition of the roof shingles, noting any signs of repairs and/or patching, and the condition of chimneys and vents, as well as gutters. In terms of the grounds around the house, (s)he will look at the condition of the driveway, sidewalks, steps, landings, patios, and fences. In addition, (s)he will walk the property looking for signs of improper drainage or leaks from the sewer pipe or septic tank.
Once inside, the inspection generally proceeds from attic to basement. In the attic, the inspector will look for sufficient insulation, signs of leaking and/or water damage, and proper ventilation. Moving into the main part of the house, (s)he will check for safety equipment such as fire and/or carbon monoxide alarms and the condition of any stairs, hand-rails, and guard rails.
Interior plumbing will be checked for damaged or leaking pipes, properly functioning toilets, bathtubs, showers, and sinks, and a proper hot water temperature setting. All appliances, including the stove, oven, refrigerator, dishwasher, microwave, and washer and driver will be turned on and off to see if they’re working properly. The heating and cooling systems will likewise be checked, including the condition of the furnace and air conditioner, water heater, and any fireplaces and chimneys. In addition, the inspector will look at the condition of all visible wiring and determine whether or not all light fixtures, fans, outlets, and circuit breakers are working properly. Walls and ceilings will be checked for any sign of water damage. If the house has a basement, the inspector will look at its floors and walls to see if there are any signs of water seepage or damage and the condition of the foundation’s interior surfaces.
Make Sure To Check for Mold or Radon Gas
Some home inspection companies will not do any tests for the presence of lead paint, asbestos, toxic mold, or radon gas in a general home inspection. Nor will the inspector look for evidence of pest control or check the condition of a swimming pool. Companies like Michigan Quality Inspection Services can add other services like mold testing or pest inspection to your home inspection service.
Who Should Attend
While a professional home inspector will write a full report of his or her findings, it is important that whoever is paying for the home inspection, whether it is sellers or buyers, attend the inspection themselves so they can follow the inspector around and see what he or she is seeing. This is the time to ask questions, particularly those having to do with estimated repair or replacement costs of anything that is not in proper working order or shows signs of damage. A thorough home inspection can take an entire morning or afternoon, so the sellers or buyers will need to schedule the inspection to fit both their own schedule and that of the home inspection company.
After attending the inspection in person, it is still important to thoroughly read the resulting inspection report. Many reports today are available in digital as well as hard copy format and contain photos taken by the inspector that illustrate various things, especially problems, that he or she found during the inspection. Not only does a thorough reading allow a seller and buyer to fully understand the issues regarding a house, but the report also serves as a reference in any negotiations of who pays for which repair costs and/or a renegotiation of the purchase price itself.
Finding a Professional Home Inspector
Thirty-nine states currently require a home inspector to be licensed after receiving the proper education and training and passing the state licensing examination. In addition, most states require professional home inspectors to attend continuing education classes or seminars each year in order to renew their licenses.
Inspection fees vary from locality to locality and depend on a number of factors including the size of the house. For a typical single-family residence, the cost usually ranges between $350 and $600, with the national average being around $473.
When looking for a home inspection company and a professional home inspector, the first thing to do is to check to see if the state has any licensing and/or certification requirements. The American Society of Home Inspectors has an interactive website where this information can be found. Then an online search for local companies provides the opportunity for comparison shopping in terms of the services provided and the cost, experience, and other important considerations when obtaining the best possible home inspection.