When you are buying property in Hawaii, one of the things listed in the purchase contract is a professional home inspection. This should always be done by a professional company with a good reputation. Now, the interesting thing to note is that this is NOT a trade that has licensing requirements in Hawaii. Most all the other components of a real estate transaction such as real estate agents, brokers, and lenders are all licensed and regulated by the state, but this is not the case with home inspectors.
Choosing an Inspector
It’s vitally important to repeat this detail that it is not a licensed field since you are trusting this inspection on one of the largest purchases you will make in your life: a home. You really want to take a minute and find out the background of the inspector. For example, was he a contractor, a builder, or a tradesman at one point? If they do not have any of these prior experiences, you really want to be careful.
What’s in the Inspection Report?
Now that you have picked the right company and they have inspected the property, what do you do with this information? You really need to make sure you understand the important parts of the report. No home is perfect and all homes, even new construction, will have some issues. It is important to figure out in the buyer’s mind what is vitally important, what can be done later and what is not really a concern. These reports can be long, highlighted in red or bold print, and can kill a deal if you don’t understand what you are viewing.
You want to watch out for the big ticket items and life-threatening problems. For example:
- Is the electric up to code and working?
- Are there any structural issues?
- How is the AC?
- Is the roof in good shape?
These type of things in my mind are important. You don’t want to buy a new home and have a major expense you did not budget for.
Look into a Home Warranty
It is also important to note that the report is just a snapshot of what the inspector can see, feel, and touch at that time. There is no guarantee that tomorrow the AC won’t break or a pipe will burst. I also strongly recommend that buyers look into some sort of home warranty program. There are many on the market that are very reputable that will repair/replace an item should it break for usually a small service fee. Most of the homes being sold in Hawaii are also “as is.” This means that the seller will disclose things that they know or are material but they are under no obligation to repair any items. You have the right as a buyer to cancel the contract and not move forward based on the inspection if you are not comfortable, but make sure you understand the report fully.
Go Over the Inspection Report on the Property
It is also recommended that the agent, the buyer, and the inspector go over this report in person at the property. This way you can see exactly what the report has found with your own eyes. I also caution buyers to be careful about what they ask for. If a window is broken for example it is reasonable to ask that it be replaced. However, if a bathroom needs caulk or a fan has a wobble are these really items you want to start fighting over or can you quickly and easily repair these once you are in your dream home?
It is best to be educated when buying a home and a good report can be a guidebook for things that should be done at some point in the property. Not everything needs to be done on day one of move in, but generally, things can be done over some time.
Learn the Key Details
The last note I have is to know the dates of the big items. When were the appliances purchased, when was the AC installed, how old is the water heater and how many gallons is it? If you know the lifespan of the items you can prepare for the day you might need to replace them.
If you need any help or information on a home inspection please do not hesitate to ask.