Buying a new home is an exciting experience but the entire process can be exhausting and stressful. The most challenging part is the home inspection since it’s where you might find the flaws of a house you’ve already fallen in love with.
Worst comes to worst, some of the issues might be a deal-breaker while some may just be minor issues that can be immediately and inexpensively dealt with. This makes home inspection a very important part of the home buying process that you need to closely pay attention to.
Tip #1: Understand what a home inspection is and what it covers.
Before the actual home inspection, it’s important that you familiarize yourself with the things that are included in the inspection and those that are not to set your expectations straight. A general home inspection is visual and noninvasive.
It is important to note that a home inspection is primarily concerned about the property’s structural, mechanical, and safety-related components. Cosmetic issues such as floor coverings, paint, and decorative trim are of lower priority, but can be raised to your inspector for evaluation.
The following parts of the house are typically inspected during a home inspection, but you may also request specific areas to be inspected if deemed necessary.
- Roof – a basic roof inspection includes assessing the type and condition of the roof shingles, gutters, downspouts, vents, flashings, skylights, chimney, and other roof penetrations.
- Exterior – Inspecting the house’s exterior structure is among the initial tasks of home inspectors. This includes the siding, eaves, soffits, fascia, windows, doors, trim, walkways, driveways, porches, decks, drainage, and all other exterior structures present to identify any major issues that could potentially be a hazard or require a repair or replacement.
- Basement, foundation, crawlspace, and structure – Inspecting these parts of the house is very important as it will enable the inspector to identify not only typical settling and hairline cracks, but any major structural issue signs as well.
- Plumbing – Here you will be able to understand the functionality and location of the main water and fuel shut-offs. You’ll also learn about the house’s water heater, operation of toilets, sinks, tubs, showers, drain, waste & vent systems, and sump pumps.
- Electrical – electrical set up inspection includes checking service drops, conductors, masts, electrical meter and panels, grounding and bonding, testing a number of switches, power outlets, lighting fixtures and receptacles (AFCI & GFCI), and the presence and status of smoke and carbon-monoxide detectors.Your inspector will also check fuse boxes and circuit breakers.
- Heating/Cooling Elements, and fireplace (if applicable) – the house’s heating and cooling systems also needs to be thoroughly checked to ensure normal operating controls. The location of the thermostat, energy source, and heating and cooling method will also be disclosed.
- Attic, insulation, and ventilation – checking if the house has sufficient insulation and ventilation is also very important to prevent major issues in the near future.
- Interior including doors and windows – the condition of the doors, windows, floors, walls, ceilings, stairways, railings, and the garage door and openers needs to be checked too.
Tip #2: Conduct your own pre-inspection.
Visiting the property and conducting your own pre-onsite inspection will help you be prepared during the actual home inspection. This is the time where you can take notes and photos of items or areas where you need the inspector to take a more careful look.
Tip #3: Be considerate of the seller’s property.
You may be the buyer but the property, but is not yours just yet. Minding how the owners/seller’s feel would be important to ensuring a smooth-sailing inspection, and the home-buying transaction as a whole.
Tip #4: Be present during the home inspection.
You are not required to attend the inspection but you should. Simply reading the final inspection report will not give you the whole picture. Most often than not, home buyers do not have the time and patience to pay attention to every detail of the report as inspection reports tend to be very lengthy with at least 20 and up to more than a hundred pages in some cases. So aside from going over every small detail of the report, it would be more productive for you to be present during the actual inspection as it will allow you to see potential issues and concerns, firsthand.
In general, home inspections take several hours, so it would be important you free up your time during the inspection day. Keep in mind that the results of the inspection will tell you if the home is worth buying so being personally present would be crucial.
Tip #5: Don’t hesitate to ask questions.
Asking questions is an effective way of understanding things that are unclear to you. The inspector may do their best to speak your language and ensure you understand everything but if in certain cases there’s anything you don’t clearly understand, ask away.
Letting them know if anything is unclear by asking questions will help you and the inspector be on the same page.
Tip #6: Keep in mind that no home is perfect. Even newly built ones.
There’s no such thing as a “perfect” home. Just the right one.
It’s very important that you keep your expectations straight by knowing that after the inspection, the house you’ve fallen in love with might not be as perfect as you’d hope for. Your inspector may find small flaws or imperfections that might be deal-breakers, so be ready to assess and decide what matters most to you.
Your inspector may present you with the following items:
- A minor defect or maintenance item – these are items that need simple and cheap repair or maintenance jobs but aren’t urgent.
- A defect or recommendation – items that aren’t working properly or the way they should be. This item usually needs action from the client.
- A safety hazard/ major concern – Items under this issue have a huge impact on the actual value of the house or property. The inspector will usually recommend further evaluation or testing from specialists.
It’s important to note though that an inspection report is not a list of repairs that are MANDATORY. Instead, it is a written document clearly describing the current status of the property. The decision on whether action should be done will have to be negotiated by the buyer and the seller.
Tip #7: Read the inspection report.
The final inspection report is made not only for documentation purposes. It is there for you to use and help you come up with an informed decision. Being present during the inspection is crucial, and reading the inspection report is of equal importance.
It would be even better to go over the report together with the inspector, if possible, so he can address concerns or questions that you may have immediately. If this isn’t possible, you may send your questions via email or schedule another short meeting to address any unclear items.
Tip #8: Trust only a reliable home inspection company.
Not all home inspection companies are the same. Thus, it’s important to do your research to find the most reliable and efficient inspector to do the job. Here are kew things you need to check when hiring a professional home inspection company:
- License – never trust an inspector who cannot provide you with the most basic qualification. But you need to keep in mind though that being licensed doesn’t immediately mean they are qualified and competent.
- Experience and training – be sure to choose a home inspection company with years of experience and proper training.
- Guarantees – reliable home inspection companies stand by their work and so they offer guarantees to give you peace of mind.
Most home inspectors will either be a member of ASHI or NACHI. These two organizations provide training, certification and a standard of practice for home inspectors in North America. Inspector Tool Belt has a good overview of each organization. Your inspector should also be licensed by the State of Alabama. Lastly, check for positive reviews on Google and Facebook or ask your real estate agent for a recommendation.
Hopefully these tips will help you find the best home inspector in your area so you have peace of mind for what may be the largest single purchase you ever make. Best wishes on finding your dream home!