About Home Inspections
A standard home inspection is a visual examination of the physical structure and major interior systems of a residential building consisting of one to four dwelling units. It should be understood that there are certain risks inherent in the purchase of property and a home inspection is inherently limited in its scope and depth. The information gained from home inspection conforming to 266 CMR 6.00 may reduce some of those risks, but the home inspection is not intended to provide the client with protection from all of the risks involved.
An inspection can be likened to a physical exam by a physician; however, it should be clearly understood that a home inspection is not to be confused with an appraisal, a building code inspection, a guarantee of any kind, and/or an insurance policy on the condition of the property.
During an inspection, the inspector will review the readily accessible exposed portions of the structure of the home, including the roof, the attic, walls, ceilings, floors, windows, doors, basement, and foundation as well as the heating/air conditioning systems, interior plumbing and electrical systems for potential problems.
Home inspections are not intended to point out every small problem or any invisible or latent defect in a home. Most minor or cosmetic flaws, for example, should be apparent to the buyer without the aid of a professional.
Timing of the Home Inspection
A home inspector is typically hired by a potential home buyer right after the offer to purchase.
Once the contract is signed, prior to executing the final purchase and sales agreement. However, before the potential buyer signs the offer to purchase contract, he/she should be sure that there is an inspection clause in the contract making the purchase obligation contingent upon the findings of a professional home inspection. This clause should specify the terms to which both the buyer and seller are obligated.
Selecting a Home Inspector
An advantage for working with a Buyer's Agent with a signed Buyer's Agreement is the ability by MA law to be able to refer a home inspector to his/her client. An agent active in the real estate profession has vast knowledge of home inspectors they can recommend for the property you are looking to purchase. Agents, however, may provide assistance to buyers in accessing information on licensed home inspectors.Other referral sources for home inspection services can be friends, neighbors, or business acquaintances who have been satisfied with a home inspector. The names of local inspectors can be found by entering the words home inspection and the zip code of the community where you are purchasing the dwelling and/or searching the Division of Professional Licensure website at www.mass.gov/dpl/boards/hi, or in the Yellow Pages where many advertise under "Building Inspection Service" or "Home Inspection Service."
A current homeowner may also want to get a home inspection to identify any problems, especially if the owner plans to sell the home in the near future.
Following are additional tips when searching for a home inspector:
- As of May 2001, home inspectors are required to be licensed in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. A home inspector's license should be verified prior to hiring. Consumers should not be confused by home inspector "certifications" offered by, or sold by home inspection trade societies or companies, obtained via home study courses, or provided by home inspection companies that certify their own home inspectors. Since the home inspection business is unregulated in most states, certifications are available to anyone. A home inspector's license can be verified with the Board of Registration of Home Inspectors at its or by calling the Board at (617) 727- 4459.
- The home inspection company that is retained should welcome the potential buyer's presence at the home inspection. The home inspector should be willing to address all of the buyer's questions and provide a full verbal and written report.
Those hiring an inspector should expect an open door policy from the home inspection company to be able to ask questions about the content of the home inspection report in the future.