A home inspection is an absolutely essential step in the process of buying a house. It will help you understand what issues the home has, what repairs you should insist the seller make, and even whether you should purchase the home at all. Yet many buyers are woefully unprepared for their home inspection, which could cause them to make poor decisions. Here are some things to keep in mind.
A home inspection is nothing more or less than a visual inspection of the home by a trained professional. There is no drilling or digging, which means that hidden issues may not be uncovered. However, a skilled home inspector can recognize the signs of an emerging issue without needing to tear the home apart.
The primary goal of a home inspection is to identify significant defects that could affect your buying decision and the purchase price. The secondary goal is to identify parts of the house that are nearing the end of their useful life or may need non-critical repairs, allowing you to set a realistic maintenance budget.
The inspection should take between 1.5 and 3 hours to complete, depending on the size of the house. Your inspector should also set aside time after the inspection to go through the written report and summary with you, make recommendations, and answer questions. In addition, a good home inspector should be available to you by phone in the days, weeks, and months following the inspection. You can make the most of your inspector’s expertise by preparing in some key ways.
Help your inspector by gathering as much information as possible about the home prior to the inspection. Helpful documents include the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) data sheet and the Seller’s Disclosure Statement, both of which should be available through your realtor. In addition, if you can get copies of previous home inspections, documentation of previous sales, and the like, these can help to establish a complete historical record of the home.
Go ahead and make a list of questions for the inspector based on your previous visits to the home. Does the roof appear to be missing shingles? Are you concerned about possible flood damage in the basement? Are you unsure how the heating system works? In the hustle and bustle of the inspection, you might forget some questions, so bring a list with you.
Also, be ready to answer questions from the home inspector. Do you plan to do any significant remodeling? How long do you plan to own the home? Do you see the home as a fixer-upper, or are you hoping it is in move-in condition? Although the basic home inspection will be the same regardless of your answers, understanding how you view the home can help the inspector give you tailored personal advice.
Many home inspectors are chatty, and will point out all sorts of interesting things as they work, such as room dimensions or lot size. Be ready to take notes, as the information may be valuable to you down the road.
Photos are a touchy issue for some sellers. If you want to photograph the home’s interior, ask your realtor to obtain permission prior to the inspection.
While a home inspection is essential, there are many other tests and inspections that you may find desirable. It is often easier and less expensive to coordinate these through your home inspector rather than on your own. These include, but are not limited to:
Lead paint testing
If at all possible, make arrangements to be present for the inspection. The face-to-face time with your inspector, inside the actual home, is invaluable. If you simply cannot be present, send someone in your stead. A trusted friend or relative who has your list of questions is the best option, but your realtor is another reasonable choice. Be sure to clear this with not only the person you are sending, but also with your inspector, ahead of time.
Make sure you talk to your inspector over the phone as soon as possible after the inspection is complete, while it is still fresh in his or her mind. Have the inspection report in front of you so that you can go through each item together.
Sellers can be understandably defensive during a home inspection. It has, after all, been their home for a period of time. Some feel like their privacy is being invaded, while others are uncomfortable when areas of DIY repair or subpar commercial work are found. For these reasons, it is best that the seller not be present for your home inspection. This is your time to take a close look at the home with the assistance of a professional, and to freely discuss its issues.
Although you cannot forbid the seller from attending, many sellers can be dissuaded through a polite phone call. Your realtor can generally handle this call for you, but if you are not working with a realtor, it will be up to you. The call may be awkward, but the reward is generally worth it.
At Best Inspection, we pride ourselves on our deep respect for every client. A thorough inspection, followed by a detailed in-person review of the report and photographs, ensures that you know exactly what to expect. We are honest, friendly, experienced, and dependable. If you are in the Anchorage area and need a professional, caring, certified home inspector, even during evening or weekend hours, give us a call today at (907) 522-2378 to learn how we can help!