|By Robin Intemann; by robin intemann Special to The Gazette -|
Home inspectors don't have X-ray vision, but they look at everything from top to bottom - inside every cabinet, behind every door, opening all windows, flipping each light switch, turning on every faucet and flushing every toilet - to see more than someone with 20-20 eyesight.
"I look for the hidden things," said
The reason for being so eagle-eyed is to determine the condition of a house before buyers make it their home.
Ernst said he charges
"A lot of people don't know what to look for. They walk into the house and think it looks great, but they can't see the electrical," said
Ernst agreed that many buyers see inspections as just an extra expense.
"In my experience they love the house. I go in and I might find all kinds of things wrong with it, which kind of bursts their bubble," he said. "In the long run, skipping the inspection could cost thousands."
An inspection also can provide an escape hatch from a contract if a seller isn't willing to fix a problem or budge on the price to accommodate the cost of repairs - provided the contract is written so the sale is contingent upon an inspection.
"With this big of a purchase, it's foolish not to have an inspection," he said. "It's a way to get peace of mind that the house is in good shape."
New homebuyers won't always scramble around in a dirty crawl space, musty attic or on a steeply pitched roof - all things most accredited inspectors do. Ernst said he checks everything and he invites - even encourages - the home buyer to join him on the inspection. He said he not only follows the standards set by ASHI, he goes above and beyond them. He added that most ASHI-accredited inspectors do more than what's advised by ASHI's code of ethics and practices.
When it comes time for the inspection, make sure to be there, even if your real estate agent wants to be present as well. Inspectors agree that it's most important for the buyer to be there.
"It's a chance for them to really walk around the whole house and take a look at things they probably didn't consider," Ernst said.
He always begins his inspections on the roof. Then he walks the perimeter of the house and maneuvers through the crawl space before going to the garage. There he examines the electrical panel.