When you’re buying or selling a house you want to be sure that you’re getting your money’s worth. You may have a general idea of your home’s value and any necessary repairs, but you won’t know for certain until you hire a certified home inspector who can thoroughly analyze the property. Read on to find out how you can get the most out of a home inspection.
Why You Shouldn’t Skip a Home Inspection
Are you avoiding a home inspection to try to save some money? Home inspections are actually intended to save you more money down the road. If you’re a buyer, an inspection gives you leverage by informing you of any major issues with the house before you move in. If you’re a seller, an inspection keeps you in the loop and gives you a greater idea of your home’s resale value.
Here are 3 ways to get the most out of your home inspection:
1. Be Present and Ready
If you’re a buyer, tag along to the inspection so you can check out your future home further and ask targeted questions. By attending, you can take photos for proof, learn about the systems in the home, and ask questions about anything the inspector finds so you aren’t left with any surprises on move-in day.
If you’re a seller, tidy up your home before the inspection, make sure access points are accessible, and ensure that all utilities are working. By making these quick fixes, you can save money in the long run. It’s also important that you be present for the home inspection in case there are any issues uncovered that result in renegotiation or cause the deal to fall through. In some cases, sellers may agree to fix the problem before closing.
At the end of an inspection, both parties will have access to an inspection report. This can include repairs as small as a loose doorknob, or as large as a crack in the foundation. Some issues may be deal-breakers, but others are fixable. If you’re a buyer and you receive a list of issues, talk with your inspector and agent about how best to proceed. You may decide to have an additional inspection from a specialist, go through a renegotiation, or even back out.
2. Know What To Look For
Below are some key things that your home inspector will investigate. It doesn’t hurt for you to inspect them too.
- Roof: Roof problems are responsible for 39% of homeowner insurance claims. Look at when the roof was last replaced, the age of the shingles, and if a warranty exists. Look for any damaged or missing shingles, stains, dark spots, and water intrusion from the attic, vent, or skylight. While examining the roof, if there is a chimney, also take note of that.
- Gutters/Downpipes: Ensure that the gutters are properly attached and make sure all water is properly draining so there is no excess water flow.
- Siding: Look at the condition of the siding and see if it is loose or falling off.
- Foundation: A foundation issue is costly, so make sure there are no cracks, that the ground isn’t soggy, and that there are no large trees close by.
- Windows/Doors: Check if they open with ease and if they are misaligned.
- Walls/Flooring: Pay attention to anything suspicious like fresh paint, patched flooring, cracks greater than 2.0 mm, and evidence of wood-destroying insects.
- Attic/Basement: Check for air leaks, signs of repair, the condition of the insulation, water or moisture intrusion, and proper ventilation that goes to the roof.
- Furnace/Water Heater: Don’t just check to see if both work properly, dig deeper to find out how old both are and the last time they were serviced.
- Plumbing: Examine the water pressure, any leaks, the water main and shutoff points, and drainage. Take note of any mold or moisture.
- Smells: If something smells unusual like mold or mildew, take notice.
- Electricity: Check the light switches, electrical panel, and look at if the outlets are grounded.
- Noxious Gases/Asbestos/Lead Paint: While all are not visible, all can be harmful to your health and should not be overlooked.
3. Prepare in Advance, Negotiate After
How long a home inspection takes is dependent on the size of the home, how many issues are detected, how thorough the inspector is, and how cooperative the seller is. Typically, a home inspection will take anywhere from two to four hours. Once inspected, it’ll then take a couple of days for a written report to be finalized.
Usually, the buyer will cover the home inspection costs but, in some instances, this will be negotiated as part of the offer. You can typically expect to spend $300–$450 for a single-family home.
After a home inspection you have the opportunity to negotiate further with your seller or buyer. For example, if a certified home inspector reveals that major repairs are needed, the buyer can often request for the seller to fix the repairs before they move in. Sometimes sellers opt for an inspection before they list their home to reassure buyers that they are selling their home in good condition. To be on the safe side, we recommend that buyers be present for their own inspection.