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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, March 10, 2006

Inspections: Once is not enough

By Suzette Hackney
Detroit Free Press

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To learn more about the inspection process, go to the American Society of Home Inspectors' Web site at www.ashi.org

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DETROIT Real estate myth No. 33: You only need to have a house inspected before you purchase it.

While I've never given readers a list of real estate myths (it was just my attempt at cleverness), I do think it's important to debunk the idea that your home needs only one inspection.

An inspection can be helpful for those buying, selling or simply maintaining a home. But guess what? Every homeowner falls into one of those categories.

There are already positive statistics showing that homeowners of the future understand the importance of a house inspection. According to the Homeownership Alliance, an organization dedicated to preserving, protecting and promoting home ownership opportunities, 10 million Americans will enter the housing market by 2013. Of those, an estimated 77 percent understand the benefits of a home inspector and will work with one, according to a 2004 study by the alliance.

But those of us who already own a home may have a difficult time determining if an inspection is necessary. Luckily, the American Society of Home Inspectors offers a checklist of other times or situations when a home should be inspected. So before making a decision, ask yourself these questions:

Was the home inspected when purchased? If not, an inspection is warranted regardless of how long you've been in the home, even if it was new construction.

Have you been in the home at least three to five years? If the answer is yes, a home inspection is a good idea since homes and home systems age and deteriorate even with proper ongoing maintenance.

Are you planning to do any major remodeling or renovation? Whether it's a do-it-yourself project or a project with a contractor, now is a good time to determine whether there are problem areas requiring attention that may have been overlooked. Certain problems, if not discovered, could complicate, delay or derail the renovation.

Have you recently undergone a major remodel or renovation? It never hurts to have an objective opinion about the work that has been done.

Are you an older homeowner planning to remain in your home as you age? Elderly homeowners may have more difficulty addressing ongoing maintenance concerns or inspecting hard-to-reach areas. A professional home inspector can point out maintenance or safety issues and recommend when to hire outside help for specific problems.

Are you a first-time homeowner who doesn't know the first thing about maintaining your home? A professional home inspection can be an invaluable educational tool for the new homeowner, especially if one was not performed during the purchasing process.

And new parents have special concerns about safety in the home; an inspector can point out any problems, such as hard-to-detect mold, that could cause harm to a growing family.