Blanco County News
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Don’t try this at home
RE/MAX Genesis
Wednesday, June 11, 2008 • Posted June 10, 2008 10:00 PM

If you are looking to buy or sell property in the next few months, take my advice and have it inspected by a qualified professional. Rumor has it that do-it-yourself inspection kits are gaining in popularity. But if you choose to inspect it yourself, I'd say prepare for the worst.

If you're a homebuyer, inspecting the property will help you identify potential problems and might also cue you to preventive measures, avoiding costly future repairs. If you intend to sell your home, an inspection prior to putting it on the market will give you a clear picture of what may be discovered by a buyer's inspector and also provides you an opportunity to make any necessary repairs—potentially adding value to your home and making it more attractive to prospective buyers.

What's in an inspection?

Some consumers may consider home inspections an added, even unnecessary, cost. You may be thinking you can do this yourself, or your brother-in-law (the carpenter) can do it for you. Think again. Home inspections are not as simple as they might appear. There's a lot more to it than downloading a form and checking things off. While some do-it-yourselfers might have you believe that, it's important to ask yourself if you really have the training, knowledge and expertise to truly understand the home's systems and components. You should also remember that trained professionals will provide you with objective insight into the property's condition. In doing it yourself, you may find it difficult to remove all your biases.

A standard home inspection looks at the condition of the home's HVAC system, electrical systems, interior plumbing, roof, attic, walls, ceilings, floors, windows, doors, foundation, basement and insulation. While all of these are crucial to the overall quality of the home, I want to emphasize the importance of knowing how to properly analyze the structural foundation. Texas droughts and floods can wreak havoc on a home's foundation. The earth may be too dry or too wet, forcing the property to shift and leading to potential cracks in the foundation which can cost you thousands of dollars. If you inspect the home yourself, would you feel comfortable making an educated decision about the home's foundation?

Professional inspectors are also trained to know when to defer to a specialist—like a structural engineer. While some inspectors may also be qualified to conduct mold, radon and water testing, most standard inspections do not include these additional services. If deeper questions arise during a home inspection, such as a potentially hazardous environmental issue, professional inspectors will direct you to the appropriate expert.

What's the cost?

Home inspections typically cost somewhere between $200 and $700, depending on the home's size and features and its age. That is a small amount to pay to help you sleep better at night. Stories abound of buyers who failed to have their home professionally inspected only to later spend enormous amounts of money repairing items that any good home inspector would have pointed out.

As a seller, spending this money upfront allows you to make certain repairs before putting your home on the market, eliminates any

last-minute surprises and places you in the best negotiating position possible.

Do-it-twice

Do-it-yourself home inspection kits may have some redeeming qualities. They can be very useful in arming you with the tools necessary to make an educated decision about the condition of a property before calling in the professionals. While these kits vary, most provide you with a step-by-step approach to evaluating the basic attributes of the home, including its distinguishing features, what potential problems (the visible ones of course) may exist and how this property compares to other homes you are considering. But it's important to understand that a consumer home inspection kit should not replace a whole-house inspection by a licensed professional.

A do-it-yourself home inspection may work best when you want to "pre-evaluate" a property. Even so, I'd be careful with any conclusions you draw on your own. Some conditions that look rather serious may, in fact, be superficial. And it's not uncommon for large, expensive problems to be virtually undetectable to the untrained. To learn more about how to benefit from a home inspection during the buying or selling process, talk to your Texas Realtor. For more information, I invite you to visit TexasRealEstate.com.

For services, contact RE/MAX Genesis at 830-833-2000 or lightfoot@moment.net.

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