How a $300 Home Inspection Saved Us $10,000

Nearly one year ago, my wife and I made an attempt to purchase our first home. In retrospect, we made a good decision to back out since home values have continued to plummet since, and the value of that property has likely dropped at least another 25%. However, it wasn’t fear of market decline that kept us away – it was a surprising home inspection. And that little bit of money we spent saved us a $10,000 headache after closing.

Perfection Shattered

Our closing process was accelerated due to the home owner needing to get out of the home with some urgency (which was very likely a false sense of urgency imposed on us to drive us into making rash decisions).

Five days after the signing of our initial contract to purchase the home, we executed the home inspection, and discovered that the roof had about 15 years of use, had been repeatedly and recently patched, and needed immediate replacement. The house was otherwise spotless, and the homeowner claimed the roof was about 7 years old with no repairs done or needed.

Needless to say, the results of the home inspection revealed that the homeowner had probably lied with the hope that a sale would squeak through before the damage was discovered. When the homeowner learned about the problem, they offered to pay us money after closing to reimburse us for the cost of repairing the roof. Last time I checked…money exchanges outside of the purchase transaction are illegal. I had heard enough. We promptly terminated the contract based on the inspection and went on our merry way.

Pay The Home Inspection Fee, Every Time

There is no excuse for avoiding the home inspection process just to save a few bucks. Even if your intent is to purchase the home, regardless of any unforeseen problems, you are well within your right to use the home inspection as a means of getting the purchase price lowered (provided of course that the deficiencies of the home were not evident prior to agreeing on an original price).

Other Benefits of a Home Inspection

Irrespective of the obvious price point and full disclosure benefits of an inspection, a number of other benefits come to mind:

  • Home Maintenance Manual – Upon completion of the inspection, we received a binder detailing common how-to’s for home maintenance.
  • Fix-It Bucket List – Let’s face it – no home is perfect all the time, including the one you live in now. But we don’t have the time and financial resources to fix everything at once. Getting an inspection creates a nice “bucket list” you can keep around when the time and money comes to fix the little things.
  • Helpful Tips from the Inspector – One of the most beneficial perks of a home inspection is being able to walk around with the expert and have him/her tell you everything they know about your new home. Most have no problem with answering your questions, no matter how simple.
  • Learn How Your Home Functions – An interesting by-product of being able to walk the home with an inspector is that I was immediately armed with knowledge about how to use every system in the house, including programming the sprinklers, security system, the location of outlets and hook-ups, and how to turn things on and off. This saves hours (if not days) of searching around when you first move in.

Lessons Learned & End Result

In the end, the house just wasn’t meant to be. Although in excellent shape, the home required an immediate and substantial up-front investment to avoid potential damage (hey, it’s Florida – we have hurricanes that love to throw stuff around and daily rainstorms). Someone else picked up the home a few weeks later, and I wish them the best.

Although we will never see our $300 inspection fee again, it was money well spent and I will do it again, every time I consider purchasing another residence.

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