Q uestion: I am buying a house that was foreclosed upon.
The bank said that they will not fix anything. Would it be worthwhile to have a home inspection done?
Answer: Absolutely! I have inspected many foreclosed homes. A home inspection will identify major repairs and itemize these items to see if it is something that you're willing to deal with.
First off, make sure everything is turned on to the house; gas, electrical, water, etc. It is the bank's or realtor's responsability to make sure that these items are turned on for the inspector so a complete and thorough inspection can be done. Without these items turned on, it is impossible to do a complete inspection and know the extent of the repairs.
For example, a home I inspected last week had very heavily damaged shingles. Instead of having it repaired, there were tarps put over the shingles, and wood slats were put over the tarps and randomly nailed right though the roof. Luckily there was no significant damage in the attic, but it doesn't necessarily tell you if the top of the roof decking is in good condition. You know one of the first things on your agenda is repair and possibly a total roof replacement.
Leaking plumbing is another common major concern. The home has not been lived in for sometime, so it is winterized. This means the heat has been shut off and the plumbing is winterized with a type of antifreeze to keep the pipes from busting. In this home, as soon as I turned on the water, there was water running into the basement areas from busted pipes and water heating system.
Sometimes there is damage to the interior of the home.
By no means am I trying to discourage you from purchasing a foreclosed home; on the contrary. Usually you are buying it at a discounted price, which makes it worth your while to take care of the repairs. As a licensed home inspector, I cannot offer you how much it will cost to make repairs, just what needs to be repaired. I have not had many of my clients walk away from a foreclosure property, but it is always good to know what you are up against. So it is important to have these types of homes inspected.