Big thanks to our guest writer:
NC Licensed Home Inspector
NC Licensed General Contractor
Farris Home Inspections
We have all heard the proverb “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” which is defined, according to Oxford Languages, as being “easier to stop something from happening in the first place than to repair the damage after it has happened.” As a child, I would hear my dad use this phrase often, and it was not until I experienced the effects of not following it that I truly understood its pedagogical importance. With this in mind, after experiencing more than a decade as home inspector, I can attest to how salient this proverb resonates in regards to the home buying process, specifically when considering life safety, hidden costs, and peace of mind.
As my career as a home inspector progresses, the more shockingly aware I become of the quantity of deleterious conditions that can arise within a home. For example, a few years ago I inspected a vacant home in the month of January. When I entered the home, the heat was off so I turned up the thermostat. Within 45 minutes of being inside the home, I began to experience flu-like symptoms. I dismissed it believing I was coming down with something; however, soon after, I began to experience vertigo and almost collapsed. After a couple of scary dizzy spells, and somehow in my cloudy condition, I realized I was being poisoned by carbon monoxide. I immediately turned off the heat and opened all the windows. After confirming the home was well-ventilated, I went to the basement and found that an old oil furnace had been incorrectly altered to a gas furnace, and it was releasing deadly levels of carbon monoxide. A few hours later, the homebuyer arrived so I could give him an overview of the home. I warned him to have the furnace replaced and to never turn it on. He revealed to me he would be moving into the home with his wife and two young daughters. My unfortunate experience with carbon monoxide poisoning was his “ounce of prevention…” Admittedly, I also learned after that particular home inspection to always inspect the furnace before turning it on.
A home inspection allows a homebuyer to discover hidden costs so they are able to determine if the purchase is cost-effective. I recall once inspecting a home that was only a couple of years old; it was a beautiful craftsman-style design, and it boasted breathtaking views. Behind the home was an enormous, well-built retaining wall, but I noticed it had shifted somewhat. Believing it was innocuous and would not be a deal-breaker, I still recommended further assessment by a structural engineer. The home buyer chose to hire a geotechnical engineer, who found, by the design of the grading, that the home should have never been built on that specific site. He said the home could possibly be salvaged but he estimated at least $100,000.00 in repair costs. The total cost of this home was approximately $700,000.00. The cost of the home inspection was $350.00. In my perspective, $350.00 was a wise “ounce of prevention…” Of course, as a home inspector, this is not the outcome we want for a buyer who has found their dream home, but we are grateful when we find a major issue and we can protect our clients from a potential mistake.
Peace of Mind
Lastly, a home inspection is a small price to pay for the peace of mind it offers. In other words, as a homebuyer, you can know you purchased a good home without the anxiety of protracted wondering if there are any hidden issues with the home. As a case in point, I once performed a home inspection for a gentleman who was purchasing his second home. The first home he bought was from an acquaintance he knew for a long time, so he trusted if anything was wrong with the home, this acquaintance would have told him. Thus, he decided to forego a home inspection. Shortly after moving in, he discovered a water intrusion problem in the finished basement. After removing sheetrock from the walls in the area of concern, he discovered all the front walls of the home were completely deteriorated by moisture and termites. The repairs cost him thousands of dollars. He later revealed to me that when he found his next home, the home inspection was the first thing he ordered before moving forward. Decidedly, on his first home, he lost the “ounce of prevention…” that a home inspection offers…and the “cure” was costly.
Accordingly, I cannot think of a better example of a time to follow the proverb “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” than getting a home inspection before purchasing a home. This proverb seems to radiate constantly in my mind during each home inspection I perform, as I witness each time the rewards it carries if followed. Therefore, a home inspection, when thought of in the context of this proverb, can save lives, it can save money, and it can save anyone from the burden of anxiety over their home purchase.
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