As a potential home buyer, you know your process can be long, tedious and sometimes confusing. You will have a host of decisions to make and options from which to choose. One stage of the process that sometimes goes overlooked is that of the home inspection. You don’t have to have an inspection, but we recommend it in most cases. But, should a buyer be present at the home inspection? We say yes! Today we’re going to discuss the home inspection process, why you should have one and how to go about finding a reputable inspector for hire.
What Buyers Should Know About the Home Inspection Process
Who Does the Home Inspector Work For?
The home inspector works for you, the buyer. When you hire an inspector, his or her job is to navigate your potential new home, before the sale. The inspector will make recommendations on any areas of the home that may require attention or repair. The inspector will focus on areas of safety, functionality, structural condition and equipment integrity. As a buyer, you want the inspection to highlight age and operation of major units, identify unsafe areas and alert you to any potential repairs that may need to be addressed. You want to understand what major repairs you could be walking into. During this process, you should be present at the time of the inspection and ask questions throughout the walk-through. While real estate agents and sellers may also be present, remember, the inspector works for you. You will be paying his or her fee (usually based on square footage of the home, roughly $300-$550). The resulting report will belong to you and the information included is yours to keep.
Certified vs. Non-Certified Inspectors
There are organizations for home inspectors that regulate standards of practice and usually offer an industry standard code of ethics. ASHI and InterNACHI are two examples of national associations, and your hired home inspector could be affiliated. You can often review the standards of practice, prior to your inspection so you will have a better understanding of what your inspector will be evaluating. Also make sure your inspector has a state license, to support your state’s governing laws. Your inspector should also carry insurance coverage. Before you sign an agreement to hire a home inspector, make sure you have someone who is certified and bound by a higher standard of service for the process. You can visit either of these organization’s websites or research with your local municipality to find certified inspectors in your area.
What Does A Home Inspector Examine?
Your inspector will focus on 10 principal components of the home.
- Roof – Condition, Life Expectancy
- Exterior – Condition of siding/brick, the proximity of bushes or debris, driveway, and sidewalks
- Basement, Foundation, Crawlspace & Structure – Structural integrity, water damage, rodents
- Heating – Age and condition of the unit and ductwork
- Cooling – Age and condition of units
- Plumbing – Faucets, water heaters, general inspection of pipes, drains, and leaks
- Electrical – Fuse box, switches, GFCI outlets
- Fireplace – Condition, flue, and chimney
- Attic, Insulation & Ventilation – General inspection for adequate insulation, defects, and air flow
- Doors, Windows & Interior – Working conditions
Remember your inspector is not there to actually fix anything. He or she will only be able to review each component and make recommendations to you for anything that a professional contractor may be needed to remedy.
Why Do You Need An Inspection?
A home inspection report is an invaluable tool for a home buyer. From the crawl space to the roof, the inspector should go over everything in the home. Your report will feature pictures and detailed narratives for each component in the home. Should there be no real pitfalls, significant financial repairs nor safety concerns, you can rest easy knowing that your decision to purchase this home is sound. If there is a need to address issues, you now have a certified report to use in your negotiation process. Insist the seller make reparations or upgrades before you buy or use those defects to your advantage to negotiate a lower selling price.
As a home buyer, hiring a certified home inspector to perform a home inspection is an invaluable tool. The more you know about the property you’re considering, the better prepared you are to negotiate and make your buying decisions. For more tips and information on the home inspection process, or to find your next dream home, let us know!