It’s a decision that can cost you thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars.
Your dream home might need a new septic tank for $6000. It might need a new roof, which can cost up to $10,000. The house might not even be insurable as it is.
Are you unsure about what happens during a home inspection and why you need one? Learning more about the home inspection process will make you feel more comfortable getting one. Here are eight things to know.
1. Contractors Aren’t Home Inspectors
Maybe you know a guy who’s willing to come take a look at a house for you. Your contractor friend does a walk through and thinks everything looks good. An inspector is trained to notice if even the smallest thing looks off.
Inspectors go through a certification process to become experts at spotting home defects. They’re detail-oriented and organized. They have special diagnostic tools like moisture meters, probe thermometers, sometimes even drones.
While inspectors can’t see through walls, they’ll catch any visible signs of lurking problems.
2. You Should Be There
To get the most out of your inspection, you need to show up.
This is your opportunity to learn all the gory details of your potential house. It’s your chance to ask questions on site and get answers from a professional. You’ll learn about things you’ve never even considered, like chimney caps and foundation cracks.
Being there in person also helps you retain the information. You’ll have a firsthand visual to recall when you read the report later. You’ll learn a lot just tagging along.
3. Inspections Take Time
What happens during a home inspection isn’t as simple as walking through the house with a realtor. Inspections take time.
Count on it taking the entire morning or the entire afternoon, and don’t try to rush through it. While you don’t need to point things out to the inspector, it’s okay to ask questions.
If the seller has disclosed problems and repairs, bring that up. You can ask for signs of unpermitted work, which you would be required to bring up to code.
Take notes. Your inspector will tell you how your home’s systems function, which may be valuable information for the future.
4. The Scope of the Home Inspection Process
You’ll cover a lot of ground on the day of your home inspection. From the basement to the attic, inside and out, everything gets examined.
Your inspector will check for abnormal cracks in the foundation. He’ll see if there are wet areas or drainage problems. He’ll do a comprehensive check for leaks throughout the house. He’ll flush toilets and run faucets.
The electrical panel has to be up to date. The plumbing needs to provide good water pressure. The HVAC lifespan should be evaluated.
After the inspection, you’ll end up with a good idea of how long your appliances will last and when you’ll need to replace things like the water heater or the roof. You’ll know what defects are cosmetic and what defects are significant.
5. Get the Report
One of the most valuable aspects of the home inspection process for the buyer is the comprehensive report that accompanies it. The report will have detailed explanations and pictures of problem areas. It may even include a prioritized schedule of repairs.
Make sure you receive a copy, whether by email or a physical copy. Sit down and read the thing! Then read it again.
Make note of questions you have, and be sure to get clarification for things you don’t understand. What reads like a big deal might be an easy fix. What seems like nothing might be huge.
An added bonus if you’re buying a home with the intention of renovating it is that the photos in the report serve as great ugly before pictures.
6. Buyers Pay for the Service
This is the part that catches most potential homeowners by surprise. Buyers have to cover the cost of the inspection. But, if you think it through, you’d have it no other way.
If the seller provided the inspector, you’d never be sure you weren’t getting unbiased information. Even a realtor has a vested interest in selling the property.
You are the one assuming the greatest risk by buying the home. You want an objective opinion.
You want the inspector working for you and no one else. A few hundred dollars is a fair price for what you get in return.
7. Buyers Can Use it as a Bartering Tool
Because the inspector works for you, the information he provides can be used as a great bartering tool. If there are lots of smaller problems, you may be able to negotiate a lower price or work out a deal on closing costs. If there are major repairs that need fixing, you may be able to require the seller to take care of them.
Don’t be petty and point out every minor issue. That will only make the seller defensive and less willing to deal with you. Selling a house can make you feel vulnerable, and every house has wear and tear.
8. Don’t Be Afraid to Walk Away
The greatest value a home inspection provides you with is a chance to walk away. Even if you’ve put in an offer, a failed inspection allows you to break off the transaction before you’re bound in a contract.
If the house you had your heart set on is teeming with termites or festering with mold. If the electrical panel is one fuse away from a house fire. If the foundation is sinking into the ground.
A home inspection can save you from making a huge mistake.
Get the Most Out of Your Home Inspection
Learning about the home inspection process is the best way to get the most out of it. Because it protects one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make, buying a home, invest your time and attention into it.
If you’re ready to make an offer on a house, get it inspected! Schedule an appointment with our ASHI certified home inspector.