The home inspection provides buyers with a critical opportunity to uncover faults in their dream home before they make a purchase. When done correctly, it gives buyers insight into the home so that they have a realistic idea of its condition.
It also provides an opportunity for the seller to fix any problems or to negotiate pricing so that a fair deal is reached.
Before any of these can take place, a home inspector must be selected. Chances are good that the buyer hasn’t had to do this before. Your Realtor may have some reliable suggestions since they have certain inspectors with whom they have worked in the past. However, it also doesn’t hurt to do your own homework so that you can be certain that you’re comfortable with the home inspector’s qualifications.
Questions to Ask When Looking for a Home Inspector
It isn’t wise to simply hire the first inspector that you find when you do an online search. The more carefully you do your research, the more likely you will be to find a well-qualified inspector in whom you have confidence.
Ask prospective inspectors about their training, qualifications, certifications and years of experience. You’ll want to ask about any related work experience the inspector may have, and question them about their knowledge of local building codes. Also, don’t forget to ask for references and referrals. Check these before proceeding.
It’s critical, and in many instances required, that people purchase home insurance policies. While your chosen home inspector is performing a basic review of the property, it might make sense to ask for some extra checks to try to score some discounts on the price of home insurance.
Check with your current or prospective insurance company to ensure that your inspector’s findings will be acceptable to use for this purpose. Some insurance companies want to send out their own inspector to perform this task, but others are willing to accept the conclusions of any qualified professional who produces a thorough report.
An inspector who’s looking at a home for insurance purposes is seeking to identify any opportunity to increase safety and security within the home. This means locating any liability risks or potential fire hazards. The inspector also will look for mold or the signs of previous water damage.
Moreover, the insurance inspector will look at the roof, windows, plumbing, heating and electrical system. Even the quality of materials used in the home’s construction will be considered.
If all appears to be in order, then you’ll probably be in line for some substantial insurance discounts. It also may be possible to address any issues and request a supplementary inspection to obtain discounts at a later date.
Home Inspection Checklist
The Main Parts of a Home Inspection
The inspection is your last, best opportunity to discover defects on the property and to try to induce the seller to fix them. In general, home inspections focus on these elements:
Basically, the inspector is reviewing things like structural components, the foundation, plumbing, HVAC system and the electrical system. These are where the most common and potentially costly problems are likely to be found.
Normally, inspections do not include looking for certain more specialized things. For instance, a basic home inspection is unlikely to look for the signs of an infestation of wood destroying organisms. These inspections also are unlikely to test for radon or asbestos, and the inspector probably won’t examine fireplaces and chimneys.
The detection of mold problems or the presence of lead piping or paint typically also are not included. It further may not fall under the inspector’s purview to look at septic systems and wells.
Four point inspections, which typically are carried out by inspectors working on behalf of insurance appraisals, also are not included in the ordinary buyer’s inspection. This four point inspection takes an in-depth look at the HVAC system, the roof and structure, plumbing and electrical systems. Generally, this inspection is not as thorough as the one undertaken during a buyer’s inspection. However, it may be necessary for insurance purposes.
What Happens During the Home Inspection?
Expect for the inspector to remain on site for between two and four hours, depending upon the house’s size. The inspector will make a considerably detailed review of the structure, and he will probably need to access all areas of the home including the attic, basement, garage and any crawl spaces.
The inspector will check the roof for damage and the plumbing for any signs of a leak. He’ll check to see that the windows are properly aligned and that the siding isn’t damaged. All the while, he will be making notes of any problems or unusual items that he finds.
Typically, a full written report will soon be available for review by the buyer, seller and their Realtors.
Should Buyers Be Present for the Inspection?
It makes sense for the buyer to be onsite during the inspection. You may want to take photographs of damage or potential problem areas. This also could be your best opportunity to ask some questions.
What Should the Report Look Like?
You don’t necessarily need to be alarmed if the report seems long or appears to list dozens of problems. Many of these issues are minor and don’t need to be addressed with the seller. However, you’re looking for problems that may be deal-breakers or for issues that you’d like to ask the seller to fix before a purchase is completed.
Leverage the Inspection for Negotiations
The findings of the home inspection can be used to negotiate a lower price or to get the seller to fix problems before the purchase. The seller may make counteroffers, and it’s up to you, relying on the advice of your Realtor, to decide when it’s time to compromise and when it’s time to walk away.
The home inspection is a critical part of the buying process. Choose your inspector carefully, and use their report to leverage your negotiations with the seller.
Most Common Home Inspections
Full Home Inspection = A home inspection is a visual evaluation of a home’s condition. Home inspectors typically provide inspection services to determine the performance of the home. The inspection is not just about identifying problems with the house but helping you become more knowledgeable about your home.
Wind Mitigation = During this inspection, our inspector looks for key features and add-ons that will reduce the amount of damage on your home in the likely event of a hurricane or the occurrence of strong winds. If a home receives these protective features, the homeowner will qualify for an insurance discount, up to 40%, on the insurance premium.
4 Point Inspection = A 4-point inspection focuses on 4 main aspects of a home: HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning), Electrical wiring and panels, Plumbing connections and fixtures, and Roof. The inspection report will describe the condition and age of these elements. This inspection is important because insurance companies have resisted to issue Homeowner Insurance Policies on older homes (25 years old or more). Their concern is that there may be conditions in an older home that could become a liability to them.
Mold Inspection = Mold inspection is, for the most part, a visual inspection of a house. There’s no special equipment involved aside from a good flashlight and tools that are sometimes needed to access restricted areas (like removing grates to inspect HVAC ducts). Some mold inspectors may use cameras. A moisture meter might also be useful in determining if a particular area is wet, especially after remediation.
Mold Testing = In a mold test, an inspector will go in a test for any possible mold spores or microbial growth above and beyond the safe moisture levels. Many times a mold inspection will include testing, but make sure to ask the inspector if they offer both combined or as two separate inspections.
Wood Destroying Organism (WDO) = A proper WDO inspection looks for evidence of infestation by termites (both subterranean and dry wood types), wood decay, wood devouring beetles, as well as evidence of past infestations, damage to wood, or conditions conducive to infestation; and evidence of past treatments. This inspection is required by FHA, VA and HUD mortgages.