So, you have made one of the most important decisions in your life: you’re buying a home! You found your ideal home. It is in your desired neighborhood, close to everything you love, you enjoy its design and feel, and now you’re ready to finalize the deal.
Purchasing a home is an important investment and should be treated as such. If you discover something’s wrong with your new home, you can’t return it for a refund or an exchange. You’re committed to your buying decision. Therefore, before finalizing anything, your “ideal” home needs an inspection to protect you from throwing your hard-earned money into a potential money pit.
What is a home inspection? A home inspection is a professional visual examination of the home’s roof, plumbing, heating and cooling system, electrical systems, and foundation. In Scottsdale and the surrounding areas, we also schedule termite inspections, completed by a termite specialist, and pool inspections as many homes have pools and spas.
There are really two types of home of inspections. There is a general home inspection and a specialized inspection. The general inspection includes the items listed above. A specialized inspection results from the inspector's findings. For instance, let's say the inspector finds that the A/C temperatures in the home are not meeting the standards. In that case, the home inspector will recommend further evaluation by an A/C professional. In many cases, (especially with A/C in Arizona!), it is very much in the home buyer's interest to follow through and have the specialized inspection completed.
Most general inspections are based on the square footage of the home. The cost of the specialized inspection varies from type to type. Some are the cost of a service call and some are priced based on the scope of the inspection.
Remember, if the inspector recommends a specialized inspection, it is wise to take that advice because buying a home is the singlemost important investment you’ll make and do not want to start off your time in your new home having to deal with things not working properly.
By having your prospective new home inspected, you will be able to:
· Negotiate with the home seller regarding repairs and oftentimes get the home sale-ready or at least some items repaired or replaced at no cost to you
· Opt-out of the purchase before you make a costly mistake
· Save money in the short and long run
How Much Money Can a Home Inspection Save You?
A home inspection helps to find potential expenses beyond the sales price, which puts homebuyers in a powerful position for negotiation.
In Arizona, buyers complete a form called the Buyers Inspection Notice and Seller's Response (BINSR) at the end of the due diligence period. If there are any issues discovered during the home inspection, the buyers can list those items and ask for them to be repaired or replaced. (Or, if there is something that is a deal-breaker, the buyer can elect to cancel the contract without penalty.) In many cases, the sellers will agree to remedy some or all of the items or sometimes leave money behind for the buyer to complete the repairs. Regardless, the buyer will then have a very good idea of what expenses they will need to budget for if they purchase the home, if any.
To help you understand how much money a home inspection can save you, here are some numbers from HomeAdvisor:
Roof – Roofing problems are one of the most common issues found by home inspections. In Arizona, you will pretty much find tile roofs or flat roofs with elastomeric coating . Per HomeAdvistor, roof repairs can range between $316 and $1046, but to replace a roof entirely can cost between $4,660 and $8,950.
Plumbing – Don’t underestimate plumbing. Small leaks can cause damage that costs between $1,041 and $3,488 to repair. Your home inspector will look for visible problems with the plumbing such as leaky faucets, water stains around sinks and the shower, water stains under the sink and noisy pipes. Stains on walls, ceilings, and warped floors are good indicators that there are plumbing problems in play.
Heating and Cooling – Ensuring the home’s heating and cooling system is working properly is very important, especially during Arizona's warm summer months. This is one that comes up very often on inspection reports, especially if the home is older. Your home inspector will make you aware of any problems with the existing system and let know you whether the system is past its prime and needs replacing. This is when you get the specialized A/C inspector in to take a look. You don’t want to spend $5,238 replacing a non-working air conditioner. Replacing and repairing a water heater gets pricey too. Wouldn’t you rather use your savings for a vacation?
Electrical Systems – When thinking of the electrical system, no problem is better than even a small problem. Electrical problems might seem small, but they are directly related to your safety and can blossom into thousand-dollar catastrophes. Your home inspector will examine the electric meter, wires, circuit breaker, switches, and the GCFI outlets and electrical outlets.
Foundation – If your home inspector sees that the house is sinking, that means water is seeping into the foundation; cracks in walls, sticking windows, and sagging floor also indicate foundational problems. The foundation is so important that if the general inspection report shows foundation problems, lenders will not lend money on the home until those issues are solved. Foundation repairs can reach as high as $5,880 to repair.
In some parts of Arizona, the presence of earth fissures can become an issue for homes if they open up near or under a home. This is an isolated issue, but one you will want to investigate if your are buying a home in an area where fissures have occurred.
As you can see, a small investment of a few hundred dollars for a general home inspection can save you lots of money and headaches in the future. Plus, for major items like the roof, electrical and A/C, it is often worth it to pay for a specialized home inspection as well.
How Much Money Can a Specialized Inspection Save You?
As I explained above, a general home inspection can result in the need for a specialized inspection because the general home inspector spotted something off about the roof, the heating and cooling system, and the foundation.
Roof – In almost every inspection when there is a tile roof involved, there will be broken tiles in the inspection report. Many times it is just a cosmetic issue, but other times it is necessary for a roof specialist to come out and investigate further. A roof specialist will look at the level of wear and tear of the roof as well as examine the chimney and the flashing surrounding it. They can tell you how long the roof will last before a new one is needed and point out areas that need to be repaired. They’ll inspect the downspouts and gutters. The average cost of a roof inspection is about $223. Most roof inspections will cost between $121 and $324.
Sewer/Septic System – Making sure your sewer or septic system has no problems should happen before the closing because what might look like a small problem can turn into a large problem in the future. The cost of inspection will vary; on the low side, it might cost you around $95, and on the high side, it might cost you $790.
In Arizona, when a home is on septic system, the system must be inspected prior to close of escrow. It is a requirement and the seller is responsible for paying for the inspection. If any issues are found with the system, that is something the buyer and seller can negotiate, but the inspection itself is mandatory.
Heating and Cooling System – As you can imagine, having a properly working air conditioning system in Arizona is very important. A HVAC specialist will check the ducts for blockage, look at coolant levels and check for consistent maintenance of the unit. The repairs needed might be small or they might be big, but this small investment will save you headaches and lots of money down the road.
Foundation – Inspectors have not often found foundation issues in the home inspections we have been a part of, but they do occur once in a while. A foundation specialist will pinpoint the exact problem with the foundation as well as look at the grade or slope of the land around the home. The ground should slope away from the home in all directions a half inch per foot to divert water from the home's foundation. Most homeowners have spent between $1,763 and $5,880 to repair their foundation. And the average cost to re-slope a lawn comes in at $1,705.
Pest Inspection – Termites can cause structural damage to a home’s wood structure from inside out, resulting in hefty repair costs. And other pests can turn your dream home into a nightmare.
Most pest/termite inspections are extensive and cost between $109 and $281. If you are financing a home in Arizona, a termite inspection will be required. And, even if you are paying cash for the home, this is one inspection you do not want to gloss over. If termite activity is found, the buyer and seller can negotiate on how the situation will be rectified.
Local termite companies also offer warranties that vary in cost depending on the length of the warranty and what treatment was done.
Another question we get a lot is about scorpions. Yes, scorpions are part of life when living in the Sonoran Desert. But, your pest inspector will keep an eye out for them and can recommend solutions and preventative measures if it looks like there may be an issue.
Radon Test – Radon is a naturally occurring invisible odorless gas that is the second leading cause of cancer. We do not typically have radon issues in Arizona, but there is always a possibility that radon can be present in the home. The cost of radon test is low and its cost varies from state to state. So, if this is of concern to you, by all means have it investigated.
Final Thoughts on the Home Inspection
To help yourself save with a home inspection, you will need to:
Attend the Inspection – Attending the inspection is important because it’s an opportunity for you to ask questions and to see firsthand what the inspector found. Your home inspector can also give you a general idea of which issues are critical and which ones are not that important.
Check Utilities – Checking utilities in advance lets you know the energy efficiency of your potential home.
Hire a Qualified Home Inspector – We can recommend several excellent home inspectors to you. You can compare our recommendation with all inspectors who belong to the American Society of Home Inspectors. From there, you can select the professional who you feel most comfortable with.