You may be asking," If this in an owner builder website, why are they talking about home inspection? Isn't that for when you purchase a house? I'm building a house."
Good Question, and you are correct. If you are an owner builder that is starting from the ground up, the building inspections will be handled by local officials during the construction process. However, in today's market, with houses in abundance and available a lower and lower prices, many would be owner builders are considering a "buy and upgrade" or "buy and remodel" approach. Under these circumstances, a home inspection is critical.
Why is a home inspection so critical? There are a number of reasons but I will cover some of the more common issues. These can include items that increase or decrease home value, performace or even safety. Many are not in plain view and sometimes, they have even been hidden from view by those unscrupulous few that will stop at nothing to sell a house.
The foundation should be checked by the home inspector. A poorly laid foundation can result in excessive settling which damages drywall and even framing.
Foundation issues can range from problems with the soil compaction to the footing being too small for the loads of the home to being very far out of level. If you find out that a home does have a foundation issue, don't neccessarily rule it out as a purchase. The problem may give you some leverage when purchasing and might not be too costly to remedy. It may mean setting 4-5 additional piers to correct an overspan of floor joists. Consider all pros and cons when deciding.
Older homes especially often have roofing that needs attention. An inspector will be able to identify if shingles or tiles need replacing and if any valley metal or sealing is compromised or missing.
What will a home inspection cover in the attic? An inspector will look at your mechanical ( furnace, forced air unit), your ductwork, insulation, the interior of your roof, the framing ( in particular, the roof trusses or rafters), plumbing and electrical lines and also for any presence of termites or mold.
Insulation is the most common issue in the attic. For years, many builders didn't see the importance of doing a good job of attic insulation. Some homes don't have any and others have areas that are not as thick as required or have huge gaps. Most older homes also have fiberglass batts if anything. This usually means there are gaps and voids in the attic insulation.
Termites or mold are usually a deal killer. Termites damage the structure and mold is a health and safety issue you don't want to deal with. Steer clear if mold is found during the home inspection, especially if it wasn't mentioned by the seller.It is important for the inspector to spend additional time with termite identification as many types are subterranean and could lead to problems further down the road.
The same things an inspector looks for in an attic, he looks for in a crawlspace. Heating and Air Conditioning equipment, ductwork, plumbing, framing and insulation are all in the crawlspace.
The inspector again will look for termite damage and the existence of mold. He will check ductwork for tears or damage and leaks in plumbing lines. If there are problems with the floor system, an inspector will be able to identify it.
A home inspection will cover the interior of the house as well. The outlets and switches will be checked for operation. Breakers will be tested. Hot and cold water will be checked.
An inspector will look for cracks in the drywall that may indicate excessive settling. Some inspectors may even have a thermal camera so they can see if your walls are properly insulated. If they don't, the local insulation company may and can come out for a fee.
What's the Cost?
It varies. Some inspectors charge by the hour, some by the visit, and some by the square foot. Just like we suggest getting multiple bids for trade work, we suggest calling around to some different firms and even check with your realtor.
Inspections usually start around 200-300.00. Remember, this is a drop in the bucket to the hundreds of thousands you will pay for the home and may save you tens of thousands if it is determined that there is damage too costly to correct.
The owner builder is the same person who will buy a fixer upper and make it their own. Remember, there are some things you just don't want do deal with, even on a remodel project.
If a home has mold, I suggest passing on the purchase.
If the home has termites, skip it and look for another.
If there is extensive roof damage, get a rock solid bid on total repair and see if fits the budget before proceeding.
Be conscious that the market is wide open right now and there is no reason to settle for a house that doesn't fit your needs. Be patient and keep looking.