An important step in the home buying process is the home inspection. Before you hire an inspector, make sure that you review these 5 home inspection tips.
Check Inspector Credentials
When it comes time for an inspection, you may be tempted to do a quick search and choose the first inspector you find. However, not all inspectors are thorough inspectors and since you’re buying the home, you’ll want the best.
A good starting point is the American Society of Home Inspectors. Once you find suitable inspectors in your area, interview them. You’ll want to know how long they’ve been an inspector and how many inspections they’ve done.
You’ll also want to know whether they have an appropriate background, such as construction or renovation, as well as specific training or certifications. Certifications often include important ongoing training which keeps professionals aware of current trends and materials.
Also check that the inspector has a proper license and insurance and that they communicate freely. You want an inspector who explains the building’s strengths and weaknesses in simple language you can understand.
Attend the Inspection
Life is busy and many people feel they can just skip the inspection and leave it to the professional. However, when you’re not there during the inspection you must rely on a written report, and you may not get the full picture.
If an inspector does not allow you to tag along, look for another. Good inspectors want you there so you can ask questions and they can answer them. You may have many and don’t be afraid to ask them all. Ask for clarification if answers aren’t crystal clear.
You should plan on an entire morning or afternoon for the process. If the seller still lives in the home, the utilities will probably be on. If it’s a foreclosure, you may need to turn them on yourself for a proper inspection. Otherwise, the inspector can’t check plumbing, electrical and HVAC properly.
Don’t assume that a new home doesn’t need an inspection. They can have defects and may not meet building codes, just like older homes.
Home inspectors sometimes recommend specialists to check things such as contaminated well water or mold. Don’t ignore their recommendations, because it could cost you plenty to remedy the problems if you buy the house without consulting them first. Problems like these can also cause serious health issues, so paying a bit more money for an additional inspection is well-worth it.
Review the Report Thoroughly
Inspectors review hundreds of items, so it’s important that you don’t just skim the report. A good inspection report uses concise language, states what’s wrong, and what’s required to fix it.
Today, most reports come in digital format with photos to illustrate the building’s strengths and weaknesses. They include a room-by-room review, as well as a report on exterior components, electrical, plumbing, and heating and air conditioning systems, structural components and the foundation, and the basement, attic or crawl space.
The inspector reports obvious and potential problems. Obvious problems may include leaks, water or paint damage, inoperative plugs and switches, failed window seals, improper plumbing or electrical layouts and environmental issues such as asbestos.
Potential problems may include poor ventilation or drainage, breakers that trip, an aging roof, furnace or water heater, and more.
Very few houses pass an inspection without some problems. The question is whether they’re easily remedied, or expensive and scary. Many sellers will repair minor problems if it means a sale, but if too many problems exist or they’re major, you may want to look at another home.
Even if you thought you’d found your dream home, don’t ignore what’s in the report. Take the inspectors estimates for repairs seriously. Unless you’re a contractor or a multi-talented handyperson, you’ll pay dearly to have the problems corrected – in both time and money.
An inspector may not be able to tell you whether you should buy, but they can give you an estimate for repairs and upgrades and whether they suit your budget. An inspection report isn’t simply a formality. It’s a valuable tool to judge the worthiness of your potential home.