February 20, 2018. By Jennifer Wolfsberg:

We often connect the thought of hiring of a home inspector only to the context of a new home purchase to ensure the offer we are making on a home does not come with unforeseen surprises.

In hiring a good inspector, we learn about the home’s strengths and weaknesses. The inspection report provides a sneak peek into where potential issues may lie whether that be structural issues, mold, or heating systems that may be on the brink of failure.    For those of us who are not construction experts or who may be first time homebuyers the process can be enlightening, educational and informative.  It can allow the buyer a level playing field to adjust their offer for any construction needs the home may have that perhaps have gone undetected or are not apparent to the current owners.  The issues that may be brought to the surface could indeed be simplistic in nature, however regardless of the level of severity the transparency provided from the inspection allows for proper planning and understanding the risk that you as the buyer are undertaking.

But what about using a licensed home inspector for another purpose, a more proactive one?

We work collaboratively with clients in the development of their long-term financial plans and have been advocates for the use of home inspection in other ways and not simply at the time of purchase.    Consider engaging a licensed home inspector for additional uses as noted below:

Current Home Project Planning After living in the family home for several years, many individuals or couples start to build their wish list of aesthetic changes they would like to make via renovation. Oftentimes these changes may be significant in project size and cost. Prior to committing to these projects (i.e. updated kitchens, room additions, basement completions, etc.) consider the engagement of a professional to see if there are more time sensitive issues that you may not know of that require your attention.  This may also be the ideal time to make upgrades in unison with these renovations, however it is also a good time to know your financial commitment should a larger, unknown issue need your immediate attention.  You may find you cannot commit to both projects simultaneously, or that it is more cost and time efficient to plan for both projects together. New granite countertops are great, but they will not keep you warm should your heating system fail unexpectedly, leaving you wishing you had prioritized your projects.

Retirement Planning One of the many goals with any individual and family as they approach age of retirement is that they no longer carry a mortgage.   The Mortgage Burning Party is the American dream; however, this can also run parallel with a family living in a home for nearly 30 years if not more.  This length of home ownership comes with normal wear-and-tear to a home, which can be substantial especially for those of us in the northeast.  For those individuals who wish to stay in their home during their retirement years, a home inspection several years prior to retirement can provide them with a blueprint of items to plan for financially.  The idea being to plan for these projects and potential issues while still in your earning years, rather than when income is reduced or halted, and only savings funds are available.

Divorce Agreements and Settlements When structuring divorce agreements and settlements most often one person is awarded and wishes to maintain the home as part of the agreement.  Like those issues noted above, a family may have lived in this home for several years and construction is not new.  We recommend for those we advise during the divorce negotiation process that a home inspection be requested and done proactively to account for the cost associated with any unknown structural, electrical, plumbing, or pest issues.  We recommend that the person wishing to maintain the house be present with the inspectors. Being present for the walk through will be a great experience to become further educated on the home as they will soon be solely responsible its care going forward, and may not have been the primary caretaker of the home in the past. The inspector should also verify that there are no open building permits previously approved as these could potentially require an additional expense to close. In certain circumstances, it is advisable to engage the services of a surveyor who can accurately mark the lot lines of the property to ensure there is no encroachment on a neighboring property, or that structures have been adequately set off from property lines per local building codes.

Presale Planning Often the first time a homeowner becomes aware of a potential issue that may impact the ultimate selling price of their home is when the BUYERS inspector identifies an issue. It may be beneficial to hire a home inspector in advance to identify any potential issues before the negotiation process to proactively repair at a lower cost. Knowing what issues exist prior to the negotiation process (which can be emotional) can also allow the prospective seller to negotiate more logically.

When you consider that most home inspections are generally around or under $500, the benefit associated with having this service performed far outweighs the cost. If you should have any questions on how the use of a home inspection may benefit you in your short and long-term financial planning please do not hesitate to call or email.