There’s a lot of instances where people don't understand the need for a home inspection. Most of the general public believes the only time they need a home inspection is during the purchase or sale of property. Nothing could be further from the truth! Inspections are needed during repairs, maintenance, storm damage, high energy bills, the list goes on. But one of the areas that is often left out is during a divorce.
Divorce is a hard thing and tensions can be high (I’ve been there myself so I sympathize), having an appropriate value of property and personal assets helps smooth over the process. If one spouse gets the house and the majority of the worldly possessions distaste and anger can ensue. One of the best ways to avoid this is to have an accurate representation of property value.
The home inspection for a divorce is in all reality an inspection similar to those conducted during a real estate transaction. A list will be generated for the repairs needed and recommendations made to complete all repairs. The steps in appraising your house are fairly straight forward but don't forget the overlap between appraisers and home inspectors.
Appraisers will devalue a home based on certain defects and a lot of that is subject to their expert opinion. As a home inspector nothing is more frustrating to me then when I perform an inspection and then the appraiser dings the sale with trivial defects that do no affect the function of the home.
First, you need to order the appraisal, once complete make sure you get a copy of the report with all his findings annotated, don't forget to get their contact information you will need this later. Present the report to the inspector so he can review the findings from the appraiser, then let the inspector get to work on the house.
Treat the inspectors report like a checklist for things to get done and start speaking with service contractors. Some inspectors can even manage the project for you for a small fee. Once all the repairs are complete call the inspector for a re-inspection and another report. This fee is usually relatively small and varies by the amount of time the inspector has to put in to the inspection. Typical charges range around $150 depending on the service, at Timberline Inspections we charge a flat rate of $125 and waive the fee if it’s a small re-inspection (anything less then an hour usually).
I’ve seen some inspectors that charge minimal fees to cover their expenses and some do it for free. Be wary of these inspections as they are usually not very thorough. Then speak to your appraiser to get him to redo the appraisal and provide you a new value.
Lets plug some numbers in! The appraised value of the home is initially $200,000, with repairs whether selling or keeping the home your value drops to $180,000. The appraiser charges you $300, the inspector charged $375 and $100 for the re-inspection, the appraiser charged $300 for the second appraisal, and the contractor charged $10,000 for all the repairs. During the second appraisal the value came back at $210,000. You invested $11,075 in the home and each walked away with $99,460 assuming a 50/50 split on value and splitting the price of inspections and repairs.
Had you taken the original value you each walked away with only $90,000! However, if you failed to get the home inspection one party walked away with $100,000 while the other party walked away with $80,000. In making things fair one person took a $15,000 loss while the other person only gained $5,000.
Obviously this is a hypothetical example and some houses will be better while some are worse. In the amount of houses I’ve inspected I have never seen a house that would not benefit from at least getting the inspection, including new construction homes.
I am a United States Army Veteran with over 10 years construction experience prior to my service. After my time in the military I enrolled in InterNACHI's rigorous course work to become a certified member and prepare for the National Home Inspectors Exam. I continue to push inspection courses and education, attaining and exceeding the required continuing education courses