So you’ve signed a deal to either buy a new house, sell your old one, or maybe both. Congratulations! You’re probably full of excitement and anticipation, but before you let yourself get carried away with future plans, you still have a couple of hurdles to get over before the closing takes place. A source of worry for many – whether selling or buying – is the home inspection. If you have no idea what goes on at a home inspection, keep reading to learn the basics.
What Does the Home Inspector Do?
Home inspectors give an evaluation of a house and report the building’s condition. The evaluation is mainly done visually, with the inspector looking closely at particular features of a home. The inspector looks at the following aspects of a house:
- Structure – The framing and foundation will be inspected along with any other structural elements.
- Exterior – The inspector will examine driveways, walkways, railings, porches, decks, and other outdoor features.
- Roofing – The inspector looks at the shingles, gutters, flashing, skylights, and chimneys and also factors in the age of the roof.
- Interior – Windows, doors, floors, leaks, cabinets, counters, stairs, are all inspected.
- Electric Systems – The inspector will look at breakers, fuses, entrance wires, and service panels.
- Plumbing – The water supply and drainage will be assessed along with the condition of pipes and pumps.
- Heating/Cooling – The inspector will evaluate the size and age of the home’s water heater, the power source for central air conditioning, as well as vents and flumes.
- Ventilation and Insulation – Areas of insulation and ventilation throughout the entire house will be examined, including the attic.
- Fireplaces – The vent and flue of fireplaces and solid fuel burning appliances will be visually inspected but it is recommended to call in a second source like a fireplace company.
The inspector does not examine things like kitchen appliances, swimming pools, alarm systems, or lawn sprinklers.
How Do You Find a Home Inspector?
Your real estate agent, friends, or family members may have recommendations for you when it comes to who should inspect your home. But keep in mind that not all home inspectors are created equal. It is important to do your research and find an inspector who will pay attention to detail and is up to date on current home standards. Ask potential home inspectors how long they have been in the business and how many home inspections they have done. In addition, find out what kind of certifications, qualifications, and training they have.
Who Should be Present?
The home seller should not be present during an inspection of their home. Although it may feel invasive and uncomfortable knowing that someone is thoroughly examining your house while you’re not home, it is an important part of the sale and should be unbiased. As the buyer, you and your real estate agent should both be at the inspection. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, follow the inspector around, and see for yourself what you are potentially buying. The inspector will have good insight as to what you will need to do to maintain the property and you will want to be there to hear it.
How Much Does an Inspection Cost?
Prices vary from location to location but you can expect to pay between $400 and $1000 dollars for a home inspection based on size and features. The buyer may negotiate with the seller to pay for the inspection but typically the buyer pays for it. As the buyer, the home inspection is to your benefit and it is a requirement of many lenders that the home pass inspection before they will finance the home. Payment in full is usually required at the time of the inspection as a safeguard against home sales falling through or being delayed.
What Happens After?
If you attended the home inspection, you will have a good idea of what to expect. The inspector will give you a written report, detailing any issues that came up during the inspection. He will let you know what needs repairing or replacing and how much it might cost. The inspection report is shared with the seller and your real estate agents can negotiate a plan. The seller may agree to fix certain problems or to offer money for the repairs. It is up to you and your agents to decide what is the best course for you. This is not a time to nickle and dime the sellers but a time to make sure the home is not in need of major repairs.
While home inspections may be stressful, knowing what to expect can help calm your nerves. If something in your prospective home doesn’t pass inspection, don’t worry. It is better to know at the start than to find out after you have purchased a property, and there may be room for negotiation. While a home inspection is not always mandatory, it is most often a good idea to ensure you are making a quality investment.