One of the most important things you can do when buying a home is having a home inspection! A home inspection is a MUST on every home purchase as it gives you the opportunity to make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into when it comes to the condition of the home. Here are some home inspection basics to help guide you through the process.
Find a professional
You will need to hire a licensed, professional inspector to conduct a thorough inspection. Although your real estate agent is not qualified to perform the inspection, they can recommend someone for you. They likely will have someone they’ve used before who is reputable, but you are not obligated to use this inspector. If you look for one yourself, choose one from the list of certified inspectors at The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). Get recommendations, check online reviews and study the inspector’s website. You will need to have the inspection done during your option period. Do your research early and have a few in mind especially if the market is busy. Be sure to ask your inspector exactly what is included for the price.
During the inspection
The inspection will generally take between two and three hours for a 2,000 square foot home. Plan on being there the last hour of the inspection so the inspector can go over in detail his findings and give you time to ask any questions. If there is anything in particular that you want the inspector to pay extra attention to (something that may have concerned you in the seller’s disclosure?), let the inspector know. Inspectors will explain your home’s systems and give you maintenance tips. You will also receive a final report, along with pictures. A good inspector will check the following:
- Roof: How old is the roof? What is the condition? Any weather damage?
- Foundation: Any cracks at base of walls or ceilings? Any apparent cracks or shifts on foundation? Any trees encroaching?
- Exterior: Any weather damage? Decay or settling?
- Lot: Is drainage away from the house? Any soggy areas?
- Attic and Crawl space: What is the condition of the interior roof? Any signs of leaks?
- HVAC: Is it cooling and heating adequately? How old is the system?
- Electric: Do the all switches work? Any obvious malfunctions? Are outlets grounded? Is the panel updated and expandable for additional appliances or a potential remodel?
- Windows and Doors: Do they all open and close properly? Any leaks?
- Walls, Ceilings and Floors: Any defects? Any leaks?
- Plumbing: Any unusual noises? Adequate water pressure? Drain function in plumbing fixture? Toilets flush properly?
- Chimneys and Flues: Working condition?
After the inspection
The inspector will send you a detailed report of the inspection notating all items inspected. This report is for your eyes only and will only be shared with your real estate agent or seller with your permission. You can then use this report to negotiate repairs made by the seller or money to make the repairs yourself. Consult with your real estate agent to determine which items would be worth negotiating.