Home Inspection: The Questions You Need Answers To
The sweet taste of victory. Your offer was accepted and you’re going to be a homeowner!
Go ahead, share the big news and celebrate this milestone. But once the confetti has settled, remember it’s time to move on to the next step in the home buying process: the home inspection.
At first glance, property inspections can seem daunting, especially if you’ve never been through the process. However, they are essential to discovering your new home’s true condition. Too many new homeowners are left with a massive, nightmare project instead of a new home.
Before facing your home’s inspections, let’s cover the questions you need answered to ensure a smooth home buying process.
Questions, Questions, Questions
First things first, if possible, make time to attend the inspection.
While there are plenty of questions to ask before and after, there’s nothing like actually being there. Not only will it give you a chance to observe an inspection first-hand, it will also give you the opportunity to ask questions you likely wouldn’t otherwise.
And remember the inspection is for you, not the seller. Your inspector is your most important team member at this point in the process. They are there to make sure all potential problems are brought to light.
How Do I Choose An Inspector?
Before you can ask your inspector any questions, you need to find a certified inspector.
When doing your research, don’t simply ask for availability and cost. Those should be the last questions asked. First, ask each inspector the following questions:
- Are you certified?
- How long have you been inspecting homes?
- Are you a full-time or a part-time inspector?
- How many homes do you inspect a year?
- Are you experienced with this type of home?
Once you are comfortable with one of your prospects, schedule the appointment.
What Does The Inspection Cover?
Most inspections don’t cover every aspect of your home. A typical inspection will cover:
- Foundation and basement
- Any additional structural components
- Interior plumbing systems
- Interior electrical systems
- Heating and cooling systems
- Condition of windows
- Condition of doors and door frames
- Condition of floors, walls, and ceilings
- The attic and any visible insulation
Specialists will likely be needed to inspect:
- Inside the walls
- Roof and chimney
- Wells, sheds, or additional structures separate from the main house
It’s important to schedule inspections for these factors as well. The interior of your walls could reveal mold, bugs, or structural damage, and proper roof inspection could be the difference between no water damage and catastrophic water damage.
[If Purchasing An Older Home] What Are The Most Common Issues With Older Homes?
Older homes typically present more problems. Make sure to have your inspector run you through the common problem areas associated with older homes. If problem are revealed, ask how to best move forward.
If This Were Your Home, What Issues Would You Focus On?
Once again, your inspector is on your team. Don’t be afraid to be informal and ask the inspector what he or she would focus on if this were their home. With the amount of experience they have, this knowledge could prove to be extremely beneficial, but they aren’t likely to give you this perspective without your asking.
What Do I Do About The Discovered Problems?
This is your most important question.
Following the inspection, you will receive a detailed report of the condition of the home. Since items that need to be repaired could be used as a negotiating point with the seller, it is important to confirm all major issues.
For example, the inspection may reveal something catastrophic like toxic mold or severe structural damage. Lucky for you, you now have the upper hand. As long as you respond to the seller within the inspection timeframe and have a legitimate reason (i.e. you found the repairs too extensive) you will likely be able to walk away from the transaction relatively unscathed (seller may keep earnest money as collateral) or be able to require the seller to complete all necessary repairs.
It is important to make sure you DON’T sign and submit the inspection report in the event of any major issues. Once this inspection has been confirmed, signed, and submitted, you will no longer have the ability to negotiate or back out.