There are many types of construction defects in houses that are not apparent to buyers visiting the houses with sales agents. Prior to buying a house, most buyers hire a qualified home inspector to give the house a comprehensive inspection. This is true whether the buyer is buying an older house or new construction and whether it is a detached single family residence, a townhouse, or a condominium unit in a multistory building. Most real estate brokers have lists of competent home inspectors with whom they have worked. There is also a trade organization, the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), that sets experience and educational standards for its members.
A buyer should expect the following things from a home inspection report:
- There should be a list of what the inspector inspected and what the inspector did not inspect. For those things the inspector did not inspect, there should be an explanation of why they were not included in the inspection. If they were outside the expertise of the inspector, there should be a recommendation of the type of inspector needed.
- There should be color photographs of all of the defects found by the inspector.
- For each defect, the report should provide an approximate cost of repair and an explanation of the type of craftsman need to make the repair.
- Defects should be identified as cosmetic or non-cosmetic.
In addition to a home inspection for defects, you should also get the house inspected for termites and other wood destroying organisms. Termites are a major problem is Florida. They can infest all types of houses. Annually, they cause millions of dollars damage to Florida homes. This inspection should be performed by a licensed pest control company.
Surveys are similar to inspections in that they can show problems with the property that you are buying. A survey is a scale drawing of a piece of real estate. It will show the footprint of the house, driveways and sidewalks, easements, fences, encroachments, set-back distances, and other things. You should go over your survey carefully with your surveyor or with someone else who is familiar with surveys to see if anything shown on the survey causes a problem. Title insurance does not usually cover any defects that are shown by a survey of the property.