When you're going to be spending hundreds of thousands of your hard earned dollars on a new home, you want to be really sure you're getting your money's worth. So what's the most important step to take? Is it hiring a realtor? Negotiating with the home owner? Shopping around for a mortgage? No. The single most important thing you can do to protect your investment is to get a home inspection. Houses, even the ones that are brand new, could be hiding some expensive and possibly unsafe flaws that could throw your finances into turmoil after you move in. A home inspector can unearth them for you.

Home inspectors take between three and seven hours to do a thorough walk through of the entire property. The foundation, the basement, the closets and crawl spaces, the wiring, the plumbing, the attic, the roof, even the lawn - nothing escapes the inspector's attention. She cannot remove any drywall and look inside the walls, but everything else is fair game. When she's done, you'll get an itemized report on the condition of every facet of the house, including areas that have or are likely to develop problems and anything that does not meet local building codes. Building code violations may not seem like a big deal, but codes exist for a reason - anything that does not meet code may pose a danger to your family.Sponsorship provided by Trinityfd.com. We appreciate your support!

Paying for a home inspection will cost between $200 and $800 depending on the size of the property, but you can make that money back by taking that inspection report and using it to get concessions from the homeowner. Even if nothing serious is found, small flaws can be an excuse to return to the negotiating table and convince the seller to either repair these flaws or knock the cost of the repairs off the price of the home. There are some flaws, however, that you don't want to tangle with. If the report comes back saying there are moisture and/or mold problems, an infestation of termites or bed bugs, or structural issues like cracks in the foundation, the smartest move is to find another house to buy.

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