The History of Home Inspections

If you are in the market to buy a new home, or if you are planning to list your home soon, getting a professional home inspection done is a great idea. Most people today, in fact, take the availability of pro home inspections for granted. 

But the reality is that home inspections, as we know them today, are a relatively new development in the United States. It’s only been around half a century or so that they have been readily available, fully professional, and an integral part of the home-buying process.

Read on below to find out about the very interesting history behind home inspections and why it makes sense today to order a home inspection before finalizing the purchase of a new home.

How Did Home Inspections Get Started?

While people interested in buying a home have always been careful to “inspect” it throughout history, the idea of a well trained professional home inspection is something relatively new. Most say the home inspection industry was spawned during the 1970s, while others date it from the 1930s.

Either way, it was definitely in the 70s that the industry took hold in a dominant manner. It began as home buyers began relying on general building contractors to inspect the homes they were interested in purchasing. This was a good start.

However, it rapidly became apparent that even general contractors were not ideal for the home inspection task. It required a lot of detailed, specialized knowledge. This then led to the gradual shift to professional home inspectors specifically trained for the task. The terminology correspondingly shifted from “contractor inspection” to “home inspection.”

By the 1990s, getting a home inspection had become the norm, the standard, and was no longer considered an exceptional step to take. In fact, today, more than three-quarters of all homes are inspected before the sale is made final.

Home Inspections & Real Estate Agents

As home inspections became more popular, a tension began to develop between real estate agents and home inspectors for a time. At first, most agents did their own inspections or had someone do it for them.

A lot of these inspections via agents in the 1970s and early 1980s were very meager and not very reliable. They often resulted in a home being declared “nearly perfect” or a “complete dump” and seemed too much under the control of the agents where a conflict of interest could exist.

The case called Easton v. Strassberger, however, changed the dynamics. This 1984 decision declared that inspecting for-sale homes for potential buyers and disclosing relevant facts that could affect the home’s value were a part of the “duty” of real estate brokers. Paradoxically, this led to realtors choosing to outsource this duty to pro home inspection companies rather than shoulder it themselves.

The reason for this reversal is easy to see – it was a liability issue. It was all about who would be liable if full disclosure were not performed. And it was all about who was better qualified to give home shoppers true full disclosure and a truly thorough and revealing home inspection. The answer was obvious – professional home inspectors would do a better job at that. Thus, while home inspectors and real estate agents still work hand in hand, their tasks are now more clearly defined and there is no more “professional jealousy” like there was for a while in the early days of home inspections.

What Kinds of Home Inspections Are There?

Over time, the home inspection industry diversified until there were several different types of home inspection. The most common one by far is the 4 point home inspection, where you have a home’s four major systems inspected: HVAC, electrical, plumbing, and roofing.

Then there is the even more meticulous whole home inspection, which as the name suggests, inspects everything – not just the four major home systems.

Specialized home inspections include wind mitigation inspections, WDO (wood-destroying organisms) inspections, and infrared home inspections that can “look into” cavities and crevices where other tools can’t “see.”

Anyone wanting a home inspection done on a building today has many, many options. You have various types of inspections, competing home inspection companies, and particular inspectors to choose from. You can get your inspection report delivered online, in-person, or both. You can order an inspection as a buyer or as a seller. There is certainly no shortage of home inspection options today.

Why Should You Have A Home Inspection Done?

While the history of home inspections may be intriguing, the bottom-line question that home shoppers and others are asking about home inspections is “Why should I have one done?”

There are several important reasons why it is almost always the right choice to have a home inspection done. Normally, this will be a 4 point inspection, although you may wish to go beyond that in some situations.

Here are the top 5 reasons to order a home inspection before finalizing the purchase of a new home:

  • To ensure the home’s major systems and components are all intact and in good working order.
  • To locate any problems that will need to be fixed post-purchase. This may affect your desire to buy, and a poor inspection report can legally get you out of a contract.
  • The home inspection may give you the opportunity to negotiate down the selling price. You may ask for a lower price or for the current homeowner to fix certain issues the report revealed.
  • Your homeowner’s insurance company and mortgage lender may both require that you have at least a 4 point inspection done.
  • The inspection will give you peace of mind in knowing that you have full disclosure on the true condition of what you are about to purchase and live in.

To learn more about modern, professional home inspections and which one might best fit your needs, contact Super Inspection Pros today for a free consultation.

We can help you better understand what is involved in a home inspection, what makes home inspections worthwhile, and which tips and strategies can help you get the most out of your home inspection.

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