by Susan Lavery
Home inspections cost around $300 to $500 for an inspection, and can take two to three hours. Add in the cost of a wind mitigation inspection (to lower insurance cost) and a WDO (aka Wood Destroying Organism or termite) inspection for about $75 each. Another common service might include septic inspection.
The standard As-Is contract for purchase of a home in Florida includes an inspection period with an opt-out clause if the inspection discloses faulty conditions in the home. These items may also be negotiated with the seller, to include having repairs performed pre-closing or lowering the purchase price so the buyer can have them done after closing.
An inspection of the house you are buying helps identify not only safety concerns and failing structural elements but faulty mechanical systems and areas that soon may need maintenance. Since the inspection period is time-sensitive, in most cases 7 to 15 days from the date the contract becomes “bilateral” (is signed and received by both parties), it’s wise to start shopping for an inspector early in the home search. This gives you time to find a qualified, professional inspector. Ask friends and family who have recently purchased in your area as well as your real estate agent, speak to several inspectors, and check out the inspector’s website if they have one.
When you speak to a potential inspector, ask to see a sample report. Inspectors fill out reports, following checklists for different areas of a house. It should be clear and informative.
At inspection, accompany the inspector. Take notes and ask about maintenance issues you’ll need to address, such as waterproofing the deck, caulking the siding, changing air filters and other matters.
After inspection the report should be available within 24 hours. Read it carefully and ask questions to make sure you understand the condition of all areas of the home. Remember that inspectors must report any issues they see to avoid liability, and don’t panic when you see items that may only be the result of normal wear-and-tear or age.
By the way, even a brand-new home can have problems. Several years ago I was going to purchase a new home of my own. It was less than 6 months post-construction and had never been occupied When my inspector went up on the roof he came down a few minutes later, shaking his head. Part of the roof was missing shingles that had never been installed and the roof deck was already buckling from moisture. This was not apparent from looking at the ceiling inside the house. I canceled the contract immediately based on that one finding and got my earnest money deposit refunded. My inspector only charged me a nominal fee since he found this condition right away.