Should you hire a home inspector?
Short answer... YES!
Long answer... Also "yes" but with examples and reasons as to why you should. Unless you're a combined builder, contractor, electrician, plumber, roofer, HVAC technician AND have the inhuman ability to sense colorless and odorless gas... we will always encourage our buyers to hire an inspector. It is ultimately the buyer's choice and if they choose not to perform inspections at the time, then that is their choice to make.
There is a never-ending list of issues that could come up during an inspection. In my opinion based on personal experience, these are the top 6 areas to see an issue during an inspection;
These are some major components to the safety of not only your home, but also your well-being. Not every homeowner knows they should be servicing their heating system (boiler/furnace) every year. Sometimes you get lucky and you'll walk into a home that has all the records for any bit of service they've had in the past 10+ years. Other times, you go under contract on a home, hire an inspector and discover that the boiler isn't even functioning. This is a BIG bill when you're not expecting it (or even if you are).
You might walk into a home, see an adequate number of outlets in the kitchen and bedroom and call it good. But there's a lot more to the electrical component of a home. There are many building codes that need to be followed and GFCI's are one of them (ground-fault circuit-interrupter). GFCI protection must be in various locations including kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms or any outlet within 6 feet of a water source. You can read more about it on Internation Association of Certified Home Inspectors. An inspector can point these out for you and also inform you on which outlets are grounded and which ones are not.
Foundations are another area you want to be aware of. It's natural for homes to settle over time and some cracks are OK, but others are a cause for concern. An inspector can tell you whether or not a foundation appears to be in good shape or if you'd be better off getting an expert in there who can make sure the foundation of your home is secure.
How many showings have you been to where either you (the buyer) or your Realtor got up on the roof? I promise to have my clients best interest in mind at all times, but they will not see me climbing up on the roof of a home and I would discourage them from doing the same. An inspector will have the proper equipment to inspect the roof (shingles, chimney, ventilation, etc.). Depending on the style of the roof, it's life expectancy can range anywhere from 10-50 years, average being 20. If the roof is in need of repair, there's a good chance there's already signs of water damage on the walls or ceilings of the home, but an inspector can give you a pretty good idea on the condition of the roof. Hopefully before it causes any damage!
Radon is a colorless, odorless gas that can be extremely harmful if ingested at high amounts over a long period of time. According to Maine.gov, it is the second leading cause of lung cancer. It's found in both water and air, so both are often times tested for it. Many homes have radon mitigation systems in place as a result and it's good to know if it's recommended for your home. When testing the water for radon, you can also test it for a bunch of other things (iron, manganese, etc.) to determine if you may be better off investing in a water softener or something similar.
Unless you were living in your home and the septic backed up, you'd probably never guess there was an issue with it, right? An inspector can send a scope down your sewer line and perform a superficial inspection on the septic system (assuming it's private septic) to make sure there's no leaks, cracks, intrusions or anything else of the sorts. If you're on a public sewer system, you can still have the sewer line inspected from the house to the road as you would be responsible for any repairs needed in that area.
These are just some of the issues that can come up during an inspection. There's many more, including poor ventilation (mold issues), leaking/burst pipes, blocked gutters, asbestos, appliances not working and the list goes on. Making a home is a big purchase and as your Realtor, we don't take it lightly. We want you to be as prepared and informed as you can possibly be about your decision. It might cost you anywhere between $500-1,500 to have this inspection now, but it could save you tens of thousands of dollars later on (and we support that!).