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Hiring a qualified home inspector before you buy

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Any woman buying a home today should be sure she has it properly inspected before making a financial commitment. Since housing is the largest single investment most people ever make, it is advisable to determine quality and condition and have any serious structural and mechanical defects revealed before making the purchase.

Inspections are done by many persons, some far more qualified than others. The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) was founded in 1976 as a non-profit, voluntary organization of professional home inspectors to establish uniform standards of practice and to ensure compliance with a strict code of ethics. Goals included establishing formal inspection and reporting guidelines and giving consumers a guarantee of quality and professionalism.

To eliminate any possible conflict of interest, members are forbidden to be involved in the sale of real estate or to refer clients to service companies or contractors for any specific repair work recommended after the inspection.

While methods of inspection and preparation of reports may vary, every ASHI inspection must include an evaluation of the central-heating and air-conditioning systems, interior-plumbing and electrical systems, roofing, insulation, ventilation, walls, ceilings, floors, windows, doors, and foundations. The fee for home inspections on small- to medium-sized houses, co-ops, or condominiums can range from $100 to $200. It can run somewhat higher for larger homes, or when pools and special structures are included.

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