Updated: Mar 23, 2019
Inspection day is a very crucial day in the home buying process. Not only is it usually the final walk through before you seal the deal, but it is also your last chance to make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into when it comes to the condition of the place you are buying or renting. Inspections can also act as a “new owner’s manual” for the home. Once they have completed the review, you’ll know what you need to do and what steps to take. But before all if this, you need to be prepared!
Finding an Inspector
You should hire a licensed, professional inspector to conduct a thorough inspection. But how do you go about doing that? Your realtor should provide you with one or two home inspection companies, you could get recommendations from your friends and family or you can check online and view different companies in your area and study their websites. You will want to do this early in the home buying process, usually right after your accepted offer because you need the home inspection to be done before the contract is due.
The Day of Inspection
You should plan on being at the inspection and your agent should be right there with you the entire time. Home inspections take time, and you don’t want to rush the process so be sure to keep your day open just in case.
You should begin to prepare for a home inspection when you first tour the home, but before making an offer. This will give you any areas you want the inspector to pay particular attention to. Use this checklist as a guide to help figure out where to look. If none of these items are covered in the inspection report, find out why.
Foundation: Look at the base of the walls and the ceilings in each room. Are there visible cracks or apparent shifts in the base? Do the same around the outside. Are there any trees encroaching on the foundation?
Lot: Does the drainage appear to be away from the house? Are there any wet areas?
Roof: What is the overall condition?
Exterior: Does the house look like it will need repairs or repainting soon? Are gutters and downspouts firmly attached? Are there loose boards or dangling wires? Is there asbestos in the exterior material?
Attic: How does the interior of the roof structure look? Are there any signs of leaks?
Basement: Is there dampness? Adequate insulation?
Electrical: Do the switches work? Are there any apparent malfunctions? Have the outlets been grounded?
Plumbing: Any unusual noises or malfunctions? Has the sewer line been scoped to check for potential cracks?
Appliances: If they included those items, what is the age and condition of the stove, dishwasher or refrigerator?
Heating/cooling system: How old is the furnace? If someone had converted the system, are the old systems or tanks still in place?
Odor: Does the home smell? Can you detect what it might be and whether you could fix it?
Always remember to receive a seller’s disclosure form before your inspection. Use the statement to help you pinpoint anything you want your inspector to look into.
Disclosure requirements vary by state and sometimes local laws. If you have any questions, ask your real estate agent for what you need. Disclosures typically come in the form of boilerplate documents with a series of yes or no questions for the seller to detail their home and their experiences of the time they lived there.
What happens if your inspection comes back clean, but you find problems after you move? First, the review will only cover things they can see. Keep in mind they aren’t tearing out walls or doing anything overly technical.
Look carefully at your contract. Will you have to pay for repairs of things they should have caught? Will they only refund the inspection fee or offer some money back? Checking every detail is part of being a homeowner. Remember, things happen even after doing all the right steps, it is a part of life. It is up to you to be as thorough as possible, that way limited mistakes will occur. The more prepared you are, the better you will feel in the end.