There’s the excitement — the inspection could be the longest time you’re in the house, after the showing. Right behind that comes nerves. What if the home inspector finds something wrong? So wrong you can’t buy the house?
Then there’s impatience. Is this home-buying process over yet? Not yet, but you’re close. Because the most important thing to know about a home inspection is you shouldn’t skip them. Here is why.
A Home Inspector Is Your Protector
An inspector helps make sure a house isn’t hiding anything before you commit for the long haul. Think about it this way: you wouldn’t get coffee with a stranger without checking their online profiles.
A home inspector identifies reasonably discoverable problems such as a leaky roof or faulty plumbing. Hiring an inspector is doing your due diligence.
The Home Inspector Won’t Check Everything:
Generally, inspectors only examine houses for surface problems. They won’t be tearing down walls or using magical X-ray vision to find hidden faults.
Inspectors also will not put themselves in danger. If a roof is too high or steep, they won’t climb up to check for missing or damaged shingles. They will use binoculars to examine it instead.
They can’t predict the future, either. While an inspector can give you a rough idea of how many years a roof will hold up, they cannot tell you exactly when it will need to be replaced.
Finally, home inspectors are often generalists. A basic inspection doesn’t routinely include a thorough evaluation of:
Structural engineering work
The ground beneath a home
Fireplaces and chimneys
For instance, when it comes to wood-burning fireplaces, this is what most inspectors will do:
- They will open and close dampers to make sure they’re working
- Check chimneys for obstructions like birds’ nests.
- Identify if there’s reason to pursue a more thorough safety inspection.
It’s Your Job to Check the Inspector:
Now you’re ready to connect with someone who’s a pro at doing all of the above. Here’s where — once again — your real estate agent has your back. Your agent can recommend reputable home inspectors to you.
Before hiring, ask questions such as:
Are you licensed or certified? Inspector certifications vary based on where you live.
How long have you been in the business? Look for someone with at least five years of experience — it indicates more homes inspected.
How much do you charge? Home inspection costs range from $300 to $500, although pricing may vary regionally beyond this range. The price depends on the size of your house, as well as market conditions, demand, and supply.
What do you check exactly? Know what you’re getting for your money.
What don’t you check, specifically? Some home inspectors are more thorough than others.
How soon after the review will I receive my report? A good home inspector will provide you with a document within 24 hours after the inspection.
May I see a sample report? This will help you gauge how detailed the home inspector is and how they explain problems.
Show Up for the Inspection and Bring Your Agent
It’s inspection day, and the honour of your — and your agent’s — presence is not required but highly recommended. Even though you’ll receive a report summarizing the findings, being there enables you to ask questions and learn more about the house.
Block out two to three hours for the examination. The home inspector will survey the property from top to bottom. This includes:
- checking water pressure
- leaks in the attic
- if door and window frames are straight (if not, it could be a sign of a structural issue)
- if electrical wiring is up to code
- if smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working
- if appliances work properly
- siding, fencing, and drainage
The home inspector might be able to check for termites, asbestos, lead paint, or radon. Because these tests involve more legwork and can require special certification and will come at an additional charge.
Get Ready to Negotiate:
Once you receive the home inspector’s report, review it with your agent because there might be some issues the sellers need to address. Most home repairs, however, are negotiable. Be prepared to pick your battles: Minor issues, like a cracked switchplate or loose kitchen faucet, are easy and cheap to fix on your own. You don’t want to start nickel-and-diming the seller.
If there are issues with the house, your agent can submit a formal repair request. That will include a copy of the inspection report. Repair requests should be as specific as possible. For instance, instead of saying “repair broken windows,” a request should say “replace broken window glass in the master bathroom.”
If the seller agrees to make all of your repair requests, they must provide you with invoices from a licensed contractor stating that the repairs were made. Then it’s full steam ahead toward the sale.
If the seller responds to your repair requests with a counteroffer, they will state which repairs (or credits at closing) they are willing to make. The ball is in your court to either agree, counter the seller’s counteroffer or void the transaction.
Remember to check in with yourself to see how you’re feeling about all of this. You need to be realistic about how much repair work you’d be taking on. At this point in the sale, there’s a lot of pressure from all parties to close. But if you don’t feel comfortable, speak up.
The most important things to remember during the home inspection? Trust your inspector, trust your gut, and lean on your agent — they likely have a lot of experience to support your decision-making.
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