Getting a proper Atlanta home inspection is one of the most crucial steps on the path to home ownership. Here’s how to use your inspection to determine if your dream house is riddled with nightmares or just needs some basic maintenance and attention.
You’ve taken the leap and made an offer on a house, and the seller has accepted it. Caught between euphoria and dread, you have only a few short weeks to reassure yourself that it’s the right house for you—and make sure you haven’t agreed to sink your life savings into a proverbial money pit.
And while you need to investigate the neighborhood, the zoning, the schools, and other concerns, the biggest piece of what the real estate people call “due diligence” will be the physical inspection of the house.
At the end of the home inspection, your inspector will provide you with an inspection report. This report usually consists of color photographs and a detailed summary of his findings. A big part of your choice to move forward with the sale will be based on this report.
An Atlanta home inspector will look at the property’s systems and components and let you know if they are functional, when or if they might need replacement, whether they could be upgraded, or if their present state constitutes an immediate threat to life safety.
Keep in mind that a typical home inspection won’t cover every single thing—you may have to pay extra if you want your swimming pool, well or septic tank inspected.
Finding a Home Inspector in Atlanta
First, you’ll need to find an inspector. Real estate agents will often refer you to one, but you may want to find one on your own to ensure you’re getting what you want from the evaluation.
Although inspectors are not licensed in Georgia, many home inspectors belong to a national organization, like InterNACHI (National Association of Certified Home Inspectors) which may provide referrals.
Many general contractors also perform inspections, but you want someone whose experienced and trained in Atlanta home inspections. Knowing how to build a house is not the same as knowing how to inspect one.
Home Inspection Costs
“Nationally, the cost of a home inspection ranges from around $300 to $700, and it should take two to four hours.” Any inspector you hire should carry both general liability insurance and errors and omissions insurance. The contract should spell out what will (or won’t) be covered in the inspection process as well.
Personal referrals can be helpful, so ask around.
Bigger homes may cost more and take longer to inspect. A $99 inspection with a checklist is probably not the best spend for your money. You should make sure the inspection includes a narrative written report, in addition to whatever the inspector will tell you verbally during the inspection.
If it all possible, you should be present during the inspection.
How much an inspector will look at varies. Some will climb on the roof or go into the attic, while others opt for examining hard-to-reach spots with binoculars. Home inspectors don’t have super-powers: They don’t have x-ray vision that allows them to see through walls.
A good Atlanta home inspector should cover both the interior and exterior of the house and its various systems, including plumbing, heating, and electrical. This doesn’t mean that every single electrical outlet or window will be tested—generally just a representative sample—but the major stuff should be looked at.
Hiring the Best Home Inspector in Atlanta
Be aware that even the best home inspector in Atlanta may not find everything — depending on the timing of the inspection, certain problems (such as roof leaks or drainage problems in the summer) can be difficult to uncover. Usually the report will include some recommendations for correcting issues that were found, often boiling down to “Get somebody to fix this” or “Get a new one.”
Don’t be disheartened if the inspector comes back with a seemingly endless list of things to fix. Even a brand new house will have things wrong with it, and an old house is likely to have lots of things wrong. Some will be in the category of annoying rather than life-threatening—broken sash cords, non-functioning doorbells, or missing window screens.
There’s No Pass or Fail
Other things that an inspector may consider unsavory will be the very things you find charming about the house — a vintage stove, functioning gas lights, or an original bathroom. Many things in old houses are now considered obsolete, and the inspector might use phrases like “the end of its useful life” or “average lifespan,” but that doesn’t mean that component of your house is going to fall apart tomorrow or that you can’t go on using it for the next 50 years.
On the other hand, there may be things that are an immediate life-safety threat, such as gas leaks, a porch in imminent danger of collapse, or rats living in the stove. Much of what the inspector finds will fall somewhere between these extremes.
Your biggest purchase will likely be your home. Hire an experienced, licensed and InterNACHI Certified Professional Inspector that’ll look out for your interests throughout the home buying process.