Home Inspections: What to Expect
As a prospective home buyer, a home inspection is your protection against hidden disasters. An inspector performs a noninvasive examination of the home to determine any reasonably discoverable issues, suggest solutions and estimate costs before you are completely committed. The home inspection is an anxiety-inducing but crucial process, and it is important to do your due diligence. The following tips will help you secure a successful home inspection so that you can move in to your new home with peace of mind.
Inspect the Inspector
A home inspection is only as good as the inspector. It is your responsibility to hire a qualified professional who will perform the work well, thoroughly and for a reasonable price. In order to find a reputable inspector, seek out recommendations from your realtor, family and friends. You can also reference online resources such as the American Society of Home Inspectors to find home inspectors in your area. You should briefly interview a few different candidates to determine the most-qualified person for the job. When interviewing, be sure to ask the following:
- Are you certified or licensed?
- How experienced are you?
- What specifically do you check?
- What specifically don’t you check?
- What is your price? (You can check average costs here).
- Can I see a sample report?
Show Up With Your Realtor
Once you find a reputable inspector and schedule the inspection, show up—and bring your realtor. Even though you will receive an inspection report later, your presence on the day allows you to supervise the proceedings and ask any questions. Plan for the inspection to last about 2-3 hours, and bring your realtor for his or her support and expertise.
It is helpful to have an understanding of what exactly an inspector checks and what is not covered by a home inspection.
What An Inspector Typically Checks
- Pest infestation
- Roof leaks
- Foundational issues
- Water pressure
- Plumbing issues
- Electrical wiring
- Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
What An Inspector Typically Does Not Check
- Swimming pools
- Septic systems
- Fireplaces and chimneys
- Lead paint or radon
- Other issues that require invasive inspection
Inspectors are generalists, not specialists. If you have a particular concern regarding the house, such as a swimming pool or a chimney, you may have to enlist another professional with more specific qualifications.
Once you receive the full inspection report, review it with your agent. Legally, sellers are required to make certain repairs: structural defects, building code violations and safety issues. However, other problems will likely require negotiation to resolve. You and your agent will need to prioritize and determine which repairs are worth a fight and which issues you should resolve on your own. Your agent can then submit a formal request, specifying in detail the particular issues with the report attached. The seller can then either accept your request or make a counteroffer. Once you’ve reached a satisfactory agreement (one that you are comfortable with) you can move forward to complete the sale and purchase your new home!