When buying or selling a home in Arizona, getting a professional property inspection is strongly advised. However, some homeowners consider doing their inspections to save on costs. DIY inspections may seem straightforward, but there are several risks and limitations to watch out for.
In this article, we will examine the potential benefits and drawbacks of performing your property inspection versus hiring a professional inspector in Arizona. The pros of DIY inspecting include lower cost, flexibility, and learning about your home. However, major cons consist of lack of experience, missing problems, and liability issues. We will break down what elements DIYers can reasonably inspect themselves and when professional expertise is essential. By understanding the complete picture, Arizona homeowners can determine if a DIY inspection aligns with their needs or if hiring an inspector is the smarter choice.
Pros of DIY Property Inspections
The most obvious benefit of a DIY inspection is avoiding the $300-$500 typical fee for hiring a professional inspector. For buyer’s inspections on multiple short-listed homes, these savings add up.
Flexibility and Convenience
DIY inspecting lets you work on your timeframe instead of booking an inspector’s busy schedule. You also avoid taking extra time off work for an inspection appointment.
Hands-on inspecting educates you about the home’s systems and components. This helps you learn to maintain and repair items yourself as an owner.
Closer Attention to Detail
DIYers can take as much time as they want to meticulously inspect every nook and cranny, versus a hurried professional walkthrough. You may spot subtle issues an inspector could miss.
Gain Inspector-Level Knowledge
Repeated DIY practice builds inspection knowledge and skills approaching a professional level over time. This lets you assess homes more adeptly.
Cons of DIY Property Inspections
Lack of Training and Experience
Without formal inspector training and years of experience, DIYers are unfamiliar with building codes, what to look for, inspection tools, and properly diagnosing issues. It’s easy to miss things.
Inspecting electrical, gas, water, and environmental hazards without proper gear and training puts your safety in jeopardy. Leave it to the experts.
Missing inspection items that later prove problematic after purchase leaves the buyer vulnerable to lawsuits and damages. Proper liability insurance is essential.
Omission of Major Systems
Most DIYers don’t inspect major systems like electrical, HVAC, and plumbing which require specialized tools, training, and certifications. These are some of the most failure-prone systems.
Inspector training, codes, and best practices evolve rapidly. DIYers often rely on outdated inspection knowledge and methods.
Home access issues may preclude inspecting crawlspaces, attics, and roofs. Inspectors use ladders and equipment to access tight areas.
No Third-Party Objectivity
DIYers have an emotional stake in the home that can cloud objectivity. Professional inspectors remain impartial and thorough.
Limited Negotiating Power
Sellers may dismiss inspection concerns raised by unqualified DIYers. Professional reports carry more weight in negotiating repairs.
What Elements DIYers Can Inspect
While professional inspection is best for major systems, some elements DIYers can reasonably handle include:
- Doors and windows – Check for broken glass, condition of frames, ease of operation, and lock function.
- Walls and ceilings – Look for cracks, water stains, uneven surfaces, and other signs of shifting.
- Floors – Check for levelness, cracks, deteriorating surfaces, and damaged subfloor.
- Cabinets and counters – Test doors and drawers for fit and smooth operation. Inspect counters for damage.
- Paint and caulking – Look for needed repainting around windows, trim, and siding.
- Drainage and grading – Inspect perimeter drainage, gutters, and downspouts. Check for proper grading slope away from home.
- Siding and trim – Look for damage, rotting wood, moisture intrusion points, and needed repairs.
- Landscaping – Assess plant health, irrigation system, lighting, and need for tree trimming.
- Pests – Look for signs of termites, carpenter ants, rodents, scorpions, and black widows.
- Pool/spa – Check pump, filtration, leaks, and safety equipment if present.
With study and mentorship from experienced DIYers, inspecting these elements can offer homeowners useful insight without taking on excessive liability.
When Professional Inspection is Essential
While the above list provides a starting point for DIYers, the following elements require a professional inspection:
- Roof – Professionals inspect roof materials, sheathing, flashing, vents, age, and signs of leakage. They can traverse steep, high roofs safely.
- Electrical – Inspectors check amperage, wiring, breakers, outlets, switches, and safety issues with specialized tools.
- Plumbing – Professionals use cameras and pressure tests to inspect pipes, drainage, water pressure, and water heater integrity.
- Heating and AC – Inspectors assess age, capacity, efficiency, refrigerant levels, ductwork, and overall operation of HVAC systems.
- Structural – Engineers evaluate foundations, framing, masonry, drainage, and structural damage risks unique to Arizona like earth fissures.
- Mold and pests – Inspectors test for moisture and harmful mold accumulation as well as identify pest conducive conditions.
Skipping inspection of these major home components is extremely risky. A professional inspection provides essential data and peace of mind.
In summary, DIY Arizona property inspections offer some benefits like cost savings but also major limitations versus hiring a professional. DIY inspecting can reasonably cover basic elements like doors, windows, floors, and drainage on a surface level. However, lack of experience and access constraints prevent adequate inspection of roofs, electrical, plumbing, HVAC, structural, and other complex systems.
While DIY inspecting builds useful hands-on knowledge, safety hazards, and liability risks abound without proper training and equipment. Relying on a DIY inspection to make a major purchase decision is generally ill-advised.
In most cases, a professional property inspection is the best option, especially for older homes or those with prior issues. The expense provides essential third-party insight into a major investment. Still, DIY inspection can be one part of your home buying due diligence process when approached carefully. By understanding both its capabilities and limitations compared to professional inspection, Arizona homeowners can make informed decisions.