Buying a home is one of the biggest investments most people will ever make. While it’s an exciting time, it can also be stressful trying to find the perfect home for your needs and budget. Once you’ve found a home you want to buy in Michigan, it’s essential to get a professional home inspection in Michigan before completing the purchase. Here’s why home inspections are so important.
Understanding What a Home Inspection Entails
A home inspection is an examination of the physical condition of a home. During an inspection, a qualified home inspector will evaluate the structural soundness, function, and overall safety of the home’s major systems and components.
Home Inspectors will look at the roof, attic, exterior, basement, crawlspaces, plumbing, electrical, heating and cooling systems, windows and doors, insulation, ventilation, appliances, and more. The goal is to identify any issues with the home so you can make an informed decision before buying.
While inspections vary, a typical home inspection in Michigan takes 2-3 hours to complete. The inspector will provide a detailed written report summarizing the condition of the home and noting any recommended repairs.
Key Benefits of Getting a Home Inspection
There are several important benefits to getting a professional home inspection before buying a home:
Learn About the Home’s Condition
A home inspection in Michigan allows you to learn about defects or issues you may not be aware of otherwise. While real estate listing descriptions legally must disclose known defects, they don’t always tell the whole story. An inspection can reveal problems not easily identified by an untrained eye, like early signs of roof damage, faulty wiring, or water leaks.
Avoid Costly Surprises
Finding issues only after moving in can mean big unexpected repair bills. Identifying problems ahead of time through an inspection allows you to negotiate with the seller, usually getting repairs made or the purchase price lowered. This prevents expensive surprises down the road.
The results of the inspection give you an objective, professional opinion about the home’s condition that can inform negotiations with the seller. If repairs are needed, you can negotiate to get quotes from contractors and a credit from the seller towards closing costs to cover the costs.
Peace of Mind
Knowing the true condition of the home upfront gives you peace of mind. You can feel confident about your investment rather than having doubts or concerns about hidden problems. The inspection report also serves as documentation should any issues arise later.
Customized for Your Needs
Inspectors can tailor the inspection to check areas most important to you. Whether you’re concerned about lead paint, radon, or septic systems, inspectors can focus on the features you care most about.
When to Get a Home Inspection
It’s ideal to get an inspection as soon as possible once you decide you’re interested in buying a home. Here are key times during the home buying process when inspections happen:
After an Offer is Accepted
Most buyers get an inspection during the contingency period after their offer has been accepted but before the closing date. This allows time to get quotes for repairs and renegotiate the contract if needed.
Before an Offer if Possible
In competitive markets, some buyers opt to get a pre-offer inspection to avoid losing out to another buyer during the contingency period. However, sellers must agree to let you inspect before making an offer.
During the Final Walkthrough
The final walkthrough right before closing is a chance to spot any changes in the home’s condition since initially inspected. But by this point, negotiation leverage is gone.
Questions a Home Inspector Can Answer
A home inspection aims to give you a comprehensive, unbiased view of the home’s condition. There are many questions an inspection can help answer:
- What is the condition of the roof, foundation, and structure?
- How old are the major systems like the furnace, water heater, electrical panel, and pipes? Are updates needed?
- Are there signs moisture, rot, cracking, leaks, or other damage?
- Do the windows, doors, walls, and insulation have any defects?
- Is the home free of radon gas, mold/mildew, lead paint, asbestos?
- Are there smoke and carbon monoxide detectors?
- What repairs are recommended and how urgent are they?
- Are mechanical systems like plumbing, heating, and air conditioning functioning properly and efficiently?
- What is the estimated remaining lifespan of the roof, appliances, furnace?
- Are there any code violations?
- How does the home’s condition compare to similar homes of its age and type?
Asking these questions helps you gain a detailed understanding of the property so you can make an informed buying decision.
What Does a Home Inspection Cost?
The cost of a home inspection depends on your region, the size and age of the home, and the scope of services included. A basic inspection of a typical single-family home usually costs $300-$500. Older or larger homes often cost slightly more. Additional testing for radon, mold, lead, and asbestos can add $100-$300 or more.
Most people consider inspection fees well worth the expense given how much it can save you long-term. It’s a small percentage of the home’s overall price but provides immense peace of mind. Financing options like rolling inspection costs into your mortgage are also available. Overall, an inspection is one of the wisest investments you can make when purchasing a home.
How to Choose a Home Inspector
It’s important to pick an experienced, qualified home inspector you can trust to conduct a thorough, impartial inspection. Here are tips for choosing the best home inspector:
- Check licensing: Make sure they have current licenses required by your state and local area. Michigan requires inspectors hold a builder or maintenance and alteration contractor license.
- Verify qualifications: Look for certification from reputable inspector associations like ASHI or InterNACHI. This involves meeting experience requirements and passing exams.
- Read reviews: Check online reviews and ask for references to confirm others were satisfied with their inspections.
- Look for experience: Choose an inspector with ample experience inspecting homes in your area. They’ll best recognize local issues.
- Ask about what’s included: Make sure they’ll inspect all major systems, structure, and components you’re concerned about.
- Compare costs: Get price estimates from at least 3 inspectors to compare. Make sure the costs fit your budget.
It can also give you peace of mind to choose a home inspector who works independently without ties to real estate agents or brokers. This avoids any conflict of interest issues during the inspection.
What to Expect During the Home Inspection Process
The home inspection process usually follows these typical steps:
The inspector will discuss your needs and concerns about the home, explain what’s included, and answer any questions. This helps them tailor the inspection to focus on areas most important to you.
The inspector will conduct a visual examination of the interior and exterior, taking notes, photos, and videos as they go. This typically takes 2-3 hours for a single inspector depending on the home’s size and age.
They’ll run tests on electrical outlets, heating/cooling systems, plumbing fixtures, appliances, garage doors, and more. They may use special tools like moisture meters, electrical testers, and thermal imaging cameras.
Review of Findings
After completing the on-site inspection, the inspector will review notable findings with you and point out any significant defects or concerns. You’ll have a chance to ask questions.
Receiving the Report
In most cases, you’ll receive a comprehensive written report summarizing the home’s condition within 24 hours after the inspection. This includes repair recommendations.
Follow Up Consultation
If desired, you can request a follow up call or meeting with the inspector to clarify the report findings before submitting requests to the seller.
Being present during the inspection allows you to see issues first-hand and discuss concerns on the spot. Make sure to ask questions!
What Home Inspection Reports Should Include
A proper home inspection report serves as an important legal document. It should provide detailed, clearly written information about the home’s condition. Here are key things to expect in an inspection report:
- A summary page listing major findings, deficiencies, and repair recommendations
- Comprehensive details on the condition of the roof, exterior, structure, foundation, and all inspected systems
- Specific locations of any damage along with photos/videos
- An overall rating on the condition of each element (excellent, good, fair, poor)
- Estimated repair costs, priorities (immediate, short-term, long-term), and suggested timeframes
- Details about the home’s structure, construction materials, and any modifications
- Any indications of prior repairs and patchwork
- Disclosure of inaccessible areas not inspected and reasons why
- A signed statement by the inspector attesting to the report’s accuracy
The top inspectors use clear, detailed reports containing all this key information. Be wary of brief, vague reports lacking specifics. The report should help you fully understand the home’s condition.
How to Prepare for the Home Inspection
Proper preparation helps ensure the inspection process goes smoothly:
- Choose an inspector early once you have a home under contract so there’s ample time to inspect before closing.
- Read the purchase agreement carefully to understand timelines, your rights, and contingencies related to the inspection. Michigan provides a 10-day contingency period for inspections.
- Interview inspectors to find one familiar with local homes and who can check for issues you’re most concerned about.
- Give the inspector all available background on the home like the age of roof/systems, known issues disclosed, inspection reports from past buyers, etc.
- Inform the sellers of the planned inspection date so they can be prepared. Make sure to give proper required notice per your purchase agreement.
- Have the utilities turned on so all systems can be checked during the inspection, especially HVAC.
- Clear access paths so the inspector can conveniently access key areas like the attic, crawlspaces, and electric panel.
- Keep pets contained to help the inspection proceed with minimal disruption or distractions.
- Plan to attend the inspection yourself so you can gain first-hand insight and directly ask questions.
Proper planning leads to a smooth inspection process and ensures you get maximum value.
Potential Problems an Inspection Might Uncover
While every home and inspection is unique, there are some common issues that home inspectors frequently uncover. Being aware of these potential problems can help avoid nasty surprises:
Structural Problems – Issues with the foundation like cracks or shifting, as well as roof and wall defects. These require major repairs if neglected.
Leaky Plumbing – Detailing locations of active leaks, signs of past leaks, corrosion, faulty fixtures, and improper installations.
Faulty Electrical Systems – Outdated wiring, lack of grounding, loose connections, insufficient circuits, or lights/outlets not working.
HVAC Issues – Age, capacity, and maintenance needs of furnace/boiler, heat pumps and air conditioners. Energy efficiency is reviewed.
Pest/Termite Damage – Identifying areas damaged by termites, carpenter ants, rodents, or other pests. Recommend treatment and repairs.
Rot & Water Damage – Locations of water intrusion, mold, dry rot, and insect damage throughout the home’s framing.
Fire & Safety Hazards – Concerns like lack of smoke detectors, old/faulty wiring, missing GFCI outlets, asbestos, lead pipes, and more. Recommend corrections.
Outdated Systems – Appliances, electric panel, plumbing, etc. that are near or beyond their expected useful life and warrant replacement.
Code Violations – Non-compliant additions/alterations, safety issues, and outdated infrastructure that may require upgrades.
While not necessarily dealbreakers, being aware of these common problems can help you make repairs prior to moving in and prevent growing issues later on.
What Happens After the Inspection Report is Received
Once you have the inspection report in hand, here’s how to move forward:
Review in Detail
Read the full report closely, making note of defects and recommendations. Discuss concerning or unclear findings with your inspector to understand the issues and options.
Get Repair Quotes
For larger repairs noted, contact licensed contractors to get price quotes for fixing the issues. This will reveal the true costs.
Request Repairs from Seller
Use the report to request the seller make necessary repairs or provide credits towards closing costs for you to take on the repairs. Get agreements in writing.
Renegotiate if Needed
If repairs are too costly, or the seller is uncooperative, use the inspector’s objective report as leverage to renegotiate the sale price or walking away if needed.
Mitigate Safety/Health Issues
Address any immediate safety issues like smoke detector needs, exposed wiring, or mold removal before moving in.
Budget for Future Repairs
Create a plan for recommended upgrades like replacing outdated appliances so issues don’t take you by surprise later on.
Taking these steps helps ensure you obtain a home in sound condition while preventing any unwelcome pitfalls.
Why a Home Inspection is Worthwhile Despite the Cost
Spending money on a home inspector may seem unnecessary when you’re trying to save for closing costs. But it’s a smart investment that pays for itself in the long run.
Avoids Big Future Expenses – Identifying issues early prevents much larger repair bills later on. Catching major structural problems alone can save tens of thousands in repairs.
Saves Money on the Purchase – Buyers save an average of $1,000 off the home price for each $100 spent on an inspection by negotiating credits for repairs needed.
Provides Peace of Mind- Ensures you obtain the home in promised condition, preventing surprises down the road that put financial stress on homeowners.
Protects Your Investment – Preventing small issues from becoming bigger maintenance nightmares helps preserve the home’s value. Safety issues also get addressed.
Objective Information – Receiving an unbiased report from a qualified professional provides reliable information, preventing misinformation.
For such an important purchase, investing in a home inspection in Michigan provides great insurance and peace of mind. Considering how much money it can potentially save, an inspection is a wise investment.
Questions to Ask Your Home Inspector
Don’t be afraid to ask questions before, during, and after the inspection. Here are key questions for your home inspector:
- What will the inspection cover? What gets excluded?
- How long will the inspection take? Do you inspect alone or with a team?
- What type of report do you provide once complete? How long until I receive it?
- What inspection standards and code requirements do you follow? Are you certified?
- Do you provide cost estimates for repairs? Can you recommend reliable contractors?
- How will you test air conditioning, heating, plumbing, and electrical systems?
- What areas or systems in this home should I be most concerned about? Why?
- Are there any immediate safety concerns you noticed I should address?
- What is the approximate remaining life expectancy of the roof, water heater, furnace, appliances?
- Were there any areas you were unable to access?
- Can home warranties help offset the cost of any needed repairs?
Asking thoughtful questions shows you care about the process and want to make informed decisions about the home. And you may get useful tips!
Benefits of Getting a Home Warranty
Another smart option to consider is getting a home warranty, especially if your inspection reveals systems or appliances nearing the end of their lifespan. Home warranties provide coverage for repairs and replacement costs for home systems and appliances that break down due to normal wear and tear.
Benefits of including a home warranty in your purchase include:
Protection Against Costly Failures- Covers expensive repairs like AC compressor replacement or leaking water heaters that would otherwise fall on you.
Covers What Insurance Doesn’t – Warranties cover repairs insurance would exclude like appliance breakdowns and plumbing leaks.
Provides Peace of Mind- Reduce stress over the cost of future breakdowns, especially right after your purchase when finances may be tight.
No Out-of-Pocket Costs -Once the deductible is met, warranty companies pay repair costs directly to the contractor so you don’t pay anything.
Protects Home Value – Keeping systems maintained helps preserve the home’s value and prevents growing issues.
Typical costs range from $400-$700 per year based on your coverage selections. While not mandatory, home warranties provide great financial protection during the first 1-2 years in your new home.
Common Problems That Don’t Show Up On Home Inspections
While home inspection in Michigan are extremely useful, there are some issues that even the best inspector may not uncover:
Previous Water Damage – Signs of past leaks can be hidden behind walls or under flooring and go unnoticed.
Pest Damage – Termites and ants often do damage inside walls that cannot be identified visually. Annual termite inspections are recommended.
Settling Issues – Early subtle signs of foundation settling may not be visible until walls or floors start noticeably cracking months later.
Noise Issues – Problems with loud neighbors, heavy traffic noise, or other disruptions may only be noticed after living in the home.
Mechanical Intermittence – HVAC or electric issues that only manifest sporadically under certain conditions can be missed.
Outdated Systems – Inspectors can’t always identify systems that are poorly maintained and approaching failure. Home warranties help protect against this.
Deferred Maintenance – Sellers sometimes conceal cosmetic issues with quick fixes that inspectors don’t catch.
While unexpected repairs sneak through even after an inspection, they provide invaluable protection and give you the best odds of obtaining a sound home.