Home inspectors are (or will be) licensed to produce an impartial Home Condition Report (HCR) on any domestic property put up for sale in England and Wales. The HCR will make up part of the Home Information Pack (HIP) or ‘seller’s pack’, which is being introduced into the property market.
There are voluntary pilot schemes running already but from June 2007, it will be a legal requirement that anyone selling a home makes available key information in the HIP to potential buyers or their representatives. Along with the HCR, the pack will include terms of sale, planning approvals, listed status, building warranties and guarantees. For leaseholders, the pack will also contain lease terms, the landlord’s or management company’s details and service charges.
The intention is to make the buying and selling process more transparent, quicker and less prone to delays, gazumping and buyer pull-outs by having the property information available at the very start of the process.
A home inspector will carry out internal and external property inspections for the HCR. As well as the main property, inspections will also include associated permanent outbuildings/structures, such as garages, conservatories and garden walls. The inspector will give each part of the structure a condition rating, which will help the buyer to identify potential additional costs if they go ahead with the purchase, and help the seller decide whether to rectify defects before a sale (and possibly add value to the property).
Ratings are as follows:
1 – No repair presently required
2 – Repairs required but not considered urgent
3 – Serious defects requiring immediate attention.
External visual inspections include the roof covering, chimneys, gutters, walls and cladding, windows and doors. Internally, inspections cover floors, partition walls, ceilings, internal roof structure, kitchen and bathroom fittings and occurrence of damp. Utility services (electricity, gas, water and drainage) where visible, are also visually inspected and rated.
Inspectors will give reasons for each rating and may recommend further investigation of defects where it is suspected that the cause is a more serious underlying fault.
Home inspectors will also collate information to calculate the energy efficiency of a property. This includes the level of thermal insulation, the type and efficiency of the heating system and the type of ventilation. They will use the Reduced Data Standard Assessment Procedure (RdSAP) to produce the rating and additional recommendations about how efficiency can be improved.
Using specific software, the inspector will compile an electronic copy of the HCR and transfer it to a national database, whereupon it will be assigned a unique reference. Once the reference has been allocated, a copy of the HCR will be sent to the client.
A home inspector will adhere to so-called Terms of Engagement, covering what they can and cannot do. This includes conflict of interest situations, for example, they cannot inspect their own property or properties belonging to close friends or family; and they cannot offer a property valuation or quotations for repair costs.
For detailed information about developments in this field, see the websites of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (housing section), Home Information Packs and Asset Skills in Further Information.
Home inspectors are likely to work 35 to 40 hours a week. Due to the nature of the work, inspections may be carried out at any time including evenings and weekends to suit the client.
Time will be split between inspections on site and administrative duties back at the office. A driving licence will be essential.
As a home inspector, you should:
Government research estimates that a minimum of 7,500 licensed home inspectors will be needed by 2007 when the Home Information Pack requirement becomes law. A proportion of this number will be made up by existing property professionals but there is scope for anyone looking for a change of career to undertake training to become a qualified inspector.
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