5 Ins and Outs of a House Inspection

HomeAdvisorOctober 21, 2018

Not all potential homeowners are familiar with the process of getting a home inspection prior to finalizing a purchase. Here are a few tips to ensure you get an accurate and thorough inspection before you buy your new house.

A home inspection is a comprehensive visual examination of a home’s physical structure and its major interior systems. Keep in mind, a home inspection is not a replacement for an appraisal, building code inspection or home insurance policy examination. Home inspections also do not offer any guarantee on the property or its condition. Instead, a home inspection is merely an assessment of the property’s condition at the time of purchase.

1. When Should I Get a Home Inspection?

A home inspection should happen early in the purchasing process because it could impact the final price of the house. It’s ideal to perform an inspection after an initial offer is accepted by the seller and before the final purchase and sales agreement. As a buyer, you should insist upon having an inspection clause in your offer to purchase before signing. This will give you options if any issues were to arise. Your options could be to have the seller repair any issues found, renegotiate the price so you can do any necessary repairs on your own later, or in the event that a major issue is found such as a problem with the foundation, you would have the legal right to back out of the purchase entirely.

2. Who Should I Hire to Complete my Home Inspection?

Always hire a licensed professional to perform your home inspection. Your real estate agent should be able to offer you a recommendation, or you can search with your state’s Division of Professional Licensure for a qualified inspector.

3. What Exactly Does a Home Inspection Cover?

An inspection is a general assessment of a home’s condition. A licensed inspector will examine the condition of different areas of the home, including but not limited to:

  • Physical Structures: This includes checking the driveway, garage floor, roofing, attic spaces and foundations for any major issues.
  • Interior Structures: In addition to the home’s physical structure, an inspector will look over the interior structures of the home. This includes the condition of the flooring, walls, doors and windows.
  • Major Systems: This includes running tests on the water systems in the home, turning on each and every faucet to test water flow, cold water output and hot water output. An inspector will also test the fridge, dishwasher, oven/stove and all of the toilets for basic functionality and performance.
  • Utilities: As part of the major systems check, your home inspector will assess and give you a detailed report on the quality of electrical lines in the home as well as the gas service.

Beyond that, the inspector will also assess the age and condition of major systems inside the home. This includes the hot water heater, water softener system (if present) and the HVAC systems. If possible, they will also give you an accurate (or estimated) age and condition of these systems.

4. Do I Need to be There for the Inspection?

You should try to attend your home inspection to learn as much as you can about the property. After your home inspection, your inspector will provide you with a comprehensive report of what they discovered, along with recommendations for what should be fixed and what could possibly become an issue, either structurally or in the home’s major systems.

5. Can I Ask Questions?

As the potential buyer who’s making a huge financial investment into the home, you can and should ask questions during the home inspection. A qualified home inspector will be able to answer all your questions openly and honestly. Consider asking them about the severity of certain issues so you can determine which problems will or will not impact your home purchase.

At the end of the day, getting a home inspection from a licensed professional can put you back anywhere from $300 to $800, depending on the size of the home. Keep in mind, it’s money well-spent in the long run. The inspection will make you aware of any potential problems now, so they don’t become a bigger and costlier issues in the future.

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