Just like when buying a car, you’ll most likely want to have an expert take a closer look at that home before shelling out however many hundreds-of-thousands of dollars on it. This is the home inspection, and it’s a very important step during the buyer investigation period when buying a home.
Once you have a fully signed and accepted purchase agreement, one of the first things you’ll most likely want to do is hire a certified home inspector to perform an inspection on the property. Now look, although it’s not REQUIRED that you do this, we highly advise all of our clients to have one done, as it’s essentially CHEAP insurance when compared with the price of the home.
Home inspections often uncover otherwise overlooked conditions (check out this HGTV list of common problems uncovered during home inspections) of the property and will provide you with a much more accurate understanding of the property you’re purchasing. Even if no major problems are uncovered in the inspection, it might bring attention to items for future planning, such as anticipating the possible need for a roof replacement in the near future.
A great inspector will thoroughly inspect all of the major systems of the home — such as the Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning system, the Electrical system, the plumbing, the attic, the roof, any crawl spaces, and the basic operability of the main appliances such as the water heater, dishwasher and stove.
A great inspector will also often use tools which allow them to see potential problems that are not visible otherwise, such as a gas sniffer to detect gas leaks, or a thermal imaging camera to detect potential moisture intrusion which could indicate leaks or inefficiencies in the insulation of the property or the ventilation system. The inspector should also check for signs of potential foundational problems as well as other structural concerns.
These findings should be documented in a final report and provided to the client for their records. When the time comes to request repairs from the seller, if the buyer chooses to, this report will be a valuable negotiating tool when laying out the case to the seller.
Now when the inspector mentions a possible problem with something such as a potential roof leak, he may recommend you have a professional roofer investigate further. The same thing goes for other specialties such as foundational specialists, plumbers, or electricians.
It’s also important to note that there are items not covered by most basic home inspections, such as running a camera through the sewer line to determine if there are any breaks in the pipes which could cause back-ups, but these are additional inspections that a buyer may also have done for a more in-depth assessment.
Now listen— a good inspector will find SOMETHING on EVERY property. I’ve seen inspection reports on new-construction homes with multiple issues. An inspector’s job is really to bring to your attention the existence of potential concerns. Whether they are actually a big deal to you or not is for you to decide.
Once you get the report, it’s easy to get intimated by the laundry list of items listed. It’s important that you carefully review the report and determine which items are HIGH-priority for you, and which are not. Once you have decided on the big-ticket items for you, you can then make a decision on how to proceed — for example, whether you will ask the seller to repair the items of concern or provide a credit or price-reduction in lieu of the repairs. You may also decide that you will proceed without requesting repairs, or in the case of more major findings, you may even decide to back out of the deal.
Whatever you choose to do, the Home Inspection will provide you with information that will help you in making that decision and will avoid you purchasing a property with problems that would have otherwise been avoidable!