If you're getting ready to buy your first home, this can be a very exciting time, but also one that will make you feel rather nervous and worried about the commitment ahead. You may have seen a property or two that you like and be quite impressed by each prospect, but realise that you cannot trust their condition based on what the seller tells you at face value and need to get an independent evaluation. It's important to engage a very good building inspector at this stage if you're going to be successful, so how should you go about choosing this expert?
The Importance of Licensing
Firstly, make sure that you only get help from a licensed inspector and don't get somebody "in the industry" just to give each place a quick once over.
Understanding What's Realistic
Next, you need to be realistic and ready for some rather negative news as part of this process. If you're buying an older home, it is almost certain to have some issues, but the building inspector will be able to tell you just how severe these are and whether or not you should go forward. You'll be able to look at the checklist of potential problems, calculate how much they are likely to cost to fix and then decide whether you should buy or move on.
Better Than Average?
In the real world, you want to make sure that the number of problems in any one property are "typical" for a structure of this kind, and ideally, that it is rather better than others in the area. An older home that has no issues whatsoever is, after all, a very rare find indeed.
Talking It through
When you choose an inspector, always ensure that they will meet with you at the property and go through all of their findings in detail. It can be very difficult to understand what they're saying simply by reading a report, and you may end up being so put off by its findings that you don't make any progress at all.
If you're happy that the property in question compares well with others that are of a similar age and type, then you need to focus on the issues that will need to be addressed in the short term. This will help you to assess your maintenance budget during those crucial early days and ensure that you don't have any nasty surprises after you move in.
Making a Shortlist
Come up with a shortlist of inspectors to talk to about property inspections at the same time as you are coming up with a shortlist of properties to view, and make sure that you make the right choice in both cases.