Tips for a Successful Home Inspection
Are you looking to buy your first property or put your house on the market? Buying, or investing in a home is the biggest financial decision most people will make in their lives. Even if you get a great deal on your future home, you may be tempted to forgo some of the optional costs that come with buying or selling houses, like a home inspection.
The idea of saving a couple hundred dollars by not getting a home inspection is enticing, but those savings today could cost you thousands down the road.
What is a Home Inspection?
In technical terms, a home inspection is a visual examination of the physical condition of a home. This is usually, but not always, connected to the sale of that home or building and its findings often determine the successful completion of that sale.
A home inspection will usually include an examination of the foundation and basement, roof, attic, heating and water systems, electrical and plumbing systems, as well as the general condition of the structure itself. An inspector will look for poor construction practices and make note of any repairs that might be required or any general maintenance issues. Importantly, they will also make note of any fire and safety issues that need to be addressed.
Home inspections are not conducted on a pass or fail basis; it provides a report that shows an itemized list of the condition of the home and any work that should be done.
We have put together tips for a successful home inspection and broke them down into 3 categories:
- Home Inspections for Sellers
- Home Inspections for Buyers
- Questions you should always ask your home Inspector
1. Home Inspection Tips for Sellers
Remove clutter: Removing clutter and basic cleaning will allow inspectors to view areas with little intrusion. This includes the space under your sinks and anywhere else an inspector may need to venture. With odds and ends out of the picture, it is much easier to conduct an inspection. Move boxes, your clothes, or other belongings out of the way so the inspector can get to the electrical panel. The inspector will also need access to your heating and cooling system, as well as any place with mechanical equipment, so move anything that may block that access.
Empty your appliances: Empty any appliances that may need to be turned on prior to an inspection. This includes the washing machine, dryer, dishwasher or stove. Not only is it polite to the respective inspector, but also removing any debris from these machines makes the process flow much smoother.
Provide access to the attic: If your home has an attic, be sure there is easy access granted. This can be as simple as providing a ladder for the inspector. Without access to the attic, inspectors will take longer to do their job. This may also require you to remove any obstacles in the way of the attic entrance. You do not want an inspector to have to move something you could have done yourself.
Leave Inspectors to do their job: It is a good idea to leave the premises before the inspectors arrive. With owners out of the picture, inspectors will be more proficient.
Unlock all doors: The inspector needs to view every area of your property, it only makes sense to prep each area for their inspection. We recommend you unlock any gates and doors to a garage, shed or crawl space for prior to the inspectors arrival.
Disclose known flaws: Sellers should disclose any issues they are aware of in their home, such as a leak or an air conditioner that only works intermittently. It is better to disclose everything upfront so you avoid surprising the buyers. It would be best to have everything fixed prior to the inspection, if not, those items that require your attention should be disclosed. At the very least, leave a note for your inspector acknowledging your willingness to have them fixed in the near future.
Documentation of maintenance: We advise owners to create a separate folder for repair documents, as it will provide the inspector with easy access to what has been done. This includes insurance claims from damage that was done in the past. The same documentation should be kept for inspections that reveal no problems. This information is relevant to their current inspection and should ultimately help them.
Check you light bulbs: Make sure your light bulbs are working, inspectors have to report everything. While it may seem insignificant, a light bulb that is not on may indicate more serious problems. Perhaps it is a wiring problem. It is better to avoid this by making sure all of your lights work accordingly.
2. Home Inspection Tips for Buyers
Do not forgo the Inspection: Sometimes sellers will ask to forgo the inspection, but do not do so without making absolutely certain you know what you are buying. The inspection is designed to protect you, so be sure to use it.
Price does not always equal quality: Instead of basing your decision on price, make your choice based on reviews. A good inspector will likely have a following that is willing to promote their services.
Be in attendance: Do not let the inspection begin without you. It is extremely helpful to be there when the inspection is underway.
Do not get too involved: Do not proceed to tell the inspector how to work. They know what they are doing, and your interference will only prolong the process.
3. Questions to Always Ask Your Home Inspector
Do older homes tend to come with more issues? Older homes do tend to come with more issues during inspection, as time tends to bring in risk of dirt, grime, rot, mold and infestation. In addition, building codes and regulations change over time, so some aspects of older homes may not be up to current standards and regulations.
What about newer homes? Some newer homes are sealed so perfectly to the point that there isn’t enough ventilation to help circulate air. If this seems like a risk, make sure to have an air-filter and exchange system installed to maintain healthy air circulation.
What kind of problems raise red flags? Asbestos, mold and hidden in-ground oil tanks are the top red flags cited by inspectors. If any of these issues are found, instead of calling the deal off, ask the current owner to either fix the problem or lower the sales price.
What are some things to watch out for when it comes to HVAC? Make sure that your inspector locates the maintenance stickers for your heating and cooling systems. If the system itself looks worn down or has required frequent service calls, it could indicate the need for replacement.
When buying a foreclosure home, what risks do I need to consider? Financial troubles leading to foreclosure can be associated with a disincentive to maintain the home. Look out for issues with the plumbing, such as leaks and obstructions, and in some cases may even be vandalism and damage.
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