We all know that one the largest assets we will own in our lifetime is our home. I’ve never really seen a ton of good articles on the cost of home ownership, but having personally owned over a half dozen homes, I can tell you that all homes required their fair share of upkeep. Even though we may not be in the market to sell our homes, we are constantly watching the sale of our neighbors homes or checking out the prices on websites like Zillow to see where the value of our home stands. We can convince ourselves that our home is in tip top shape until the time we get an offer on the home contingent on the dreaded home inspection. A good home inspector gets paid in part to look within every nook and cranny in the house to find out what may be wrong with the property. After the inspection, we can almost become incensed that the inspector may have found something foundationally wrong or something that was not put in our house that should have been there from the beginning. As a smart money move, I’d like you to consider the idea of doing preventive medicine for your home.
Preventive medicine or preventive care consists of measure taken to prevent diseases (or injuries) rather than curing them or treating their symptoms. (www.wikipedia.com). We all know that by doing to the dentist twice a year or doing an annual physical that we can often uncover problems that are happening with our teeth or our bodies before they become very costly or possibly incurable. The cost for these type of visits and general treatment is not always an expense that we budget for every year, but is a smart line item to take care of now rather than pay dearly down the road. So why don’t most of us take the same approach with our homes.
It’s evident to the naked eye when the inside or outside of your house needs a new coat of paint. Or remember the time when you kids put the bicycle right through the dry wall in the garage and you had to patch it up? Possibly you had a leak under the sink or behind the toilet a few weeks ago and you had to make the call to the plumber? These are all kinds of maintenance that we take care of on a daily basis. What I am suggesting to you as a smart money move is to hire the very best home inspector you can find and personally pay them to do an ultra-detailed inspection of your home every three to five years. Have them crawl up in the attic, check all of the plumbing, look for termites, examine the roof, and everything that would go into the same process you would have to do at the time you wanted to sell your home to another buyer.
I started this practice a few years ago personally and I am glad that I went through the process. Although my wife and I maintain our home to a really high quality of standard, the inspection drew out three or four things that we needed to get done or they could become a problem. By investing the money to fix them now and keeping a detailed documented record for future buyers, home inspectors, and real estate agents alike, it could actually help either make the home sale quicker or even add value to the home. Think about car buyers today who use documents like Car Fax to see the history of the car. Sometimes, a private sale car buyer will meet you at your price if they can see documented records of you doing the required upkeep on the car. What if you had the same type of records on your home?
Even brand new homes are no exception. Mistakes are made. Home inspections routinely reveal as many deficiencies and building code violations in new homes as in used homes. While county inspectors do the best they can, they usually have many houses to inspect every day and cannot possibly dedicate 2-3 hours to each home as does a home inspector. As home inspectors become more and more trained and certified, the adversarial relationship that used to exist between builder and inspector has mostly disappeared and both parties realize they are working toward the common goal of providing a good quality home to the buyer while reducing the chance of future repair costs or lawsuits.
The typical home inspection fee for an average single family home typically run between $300-$450 dollars but fees can and do run higher depending on the size of the home. Additional services like radon testing, septic tank testing, pool inspections, etc. are additional. The lowest price is not always a good deal. You are paying an inspector their knowledge and expertise. As in most things, you get what you pay for is a good rule of thumb. When you are choosing an inspector, be sure:
- They are insured
$1,000,000 Errors and Omissions Insurance is the minimum, $3,000,000 is best.
- They are Trained and Certified
ICC (Building Code) Tested and Certified;
ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors) Certified; and/or
GAHI (Georgia Association of Home Inspectors) Certified
- You are comfortable with their level of experience, their availability for future consultations and their ability to communicate.
Remember, if you decide to do preventive medicine on your home, it is not a warranty guaranteeing future performance. It is not an appraisal to determine value. It is not a pass/fail municipal code compliance verification. A home inspector does not pass or fail a house, but rather describes the physical conditions of a house and indicates what components and systems may need major repair or replacement so that the buyer can make an informed buying decision. Doing these checkups in advance every three to five years can make all the difference in how quickly you sell your home down the road and save you a unnecessary hit on your cash reserve if you have to make repairs you were not aware of when you put your home on the market. A preventive home inspection might be just what the doctor ordered.
CFP®, AAMS®, AWMA®, CRPC®, CMFC®, CRPS®
Editor in Chief of Your Smart Money Moves
Co-CEO and Founder of oXYGen Financial, Inc – The Leaders in Gen X & Y Financial Advice and Services
Ted Jenkin is one of the foremost knowledgeable professionals in giving financial advice to the X and Y Generation.
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