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A pre-purchase, general home inspection involves visual examination of major building systems and components. The intention of the pre-purchase general home inspection is to provide the buyer with useful information about the condition of the residence and identify major deficiencies in the home’s structure, its systems and components.

A home inspector is a professional who has been trained to examine the visual condition of residential properties and determine if they are free from discoverable major mechanical (heating, plumbing, electrical, etc.) or structural (walls, roof, foundation, etc.) deficiencies. Often home inspectors have spent years in one or more of the building trades such as carpentry or plumbing. There is no specific college degree for a building inspector although certain types of engineers could be qualified.

A Professional Home Inspector will tell you if the roof or heating system will soon need major repair or replacement, and whether the electrical and plumbing systems are functioning properly. The inspector will let you know whether the major mechanical/structural systems are in overall satisfactory condition.

A Professional Home Inspector will locate discoverable major mechanical/structural defects and suggest repair methods. There are no problems of this type, mechanical or structural, that cannot be remedied. Professional Home Inspectors are generalists, much like medical general practitioners. They know how the home’s many systems and components work, both independently and together, and they understand how and why they fail. You should expect a permanent report of your inspection, either written or video taped. The report should describe the condition of the home at the time of the inspection based upon the inspector’s visual observations.

Professional Home Inspectors throughout the country are generally expected to follow the Standards of Practice established by the American Society of Home Inspections (ASHI). The "Standards of Practice" are guidelines that specify the components of a home to be included in an inspection: the heating and air conditioning systems, the plumbing and electrical systems, the roof, gutters and down spouts, attic, visible insulation, visible drainage systems, walls, ceilings, floors, windows, doors, garage, foundation, basement, etc.

The inspection is important and strongly recommended because you learn how to maintain the home you have chosen and you become an informed buyer. You should know about the home prior to buying and making that investment. By following the inspector, by observing and asking questions, you will learn a great deal about your new home and how to maintain it. This valuable information will serve you for many years after you move in. The inspector is paid by the person who selects the inspector and orders the inspection. The buyer selects the inspector and pays the inspection fee directly to the inspector.

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Edited and suplimented by Mory Brenner, Esq. For more information read our terms of use and privacy policy.