Home inspections can tell you whether or not things like the roof, plumbing, foundation and electrical system are in good shape. However, they do not tell you everything that may go wrong with the home in the future.
Before you get a home inspection, it is beneficial to understand how a home inspection can help you understand the structure and components of the house and whether or not to proceed with buying it.
A home inspection is designed to examine major components of the home that are reasonably viewable. It cannot detect problems with the home that are covered by drywall, flooring and other finishes.
In general, you can expect the home inspector to examine the roof, certain electrical components including the electrical panel and breakers, the foundation of the home, the entire roofing system, attic and basement insulation, the plumbing system and the HVAC as well as the general condition of the ceilings, walls, floors and staircases.
Hiring a Good Home Inspector
Getting a good home inspection starts with hiring a good home inspector. Ideally, your home inspector should be a member of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). The ASHI sets standards for home inspectors and ensures members are educated on home inspections, tested on their knowledge and certified.
While a pre-inspection contract is primarily designed to protect the home inspector against future liability, it is also an essential document for the home buyer. With that in mind, and prior to the start of the home inspection, make sure to read the pre-inspection contract. A pre-inspection contract is a document that will outline the objectives of the home inspection and state what will be covered in the inspection.
It is important to read this document thoroughly and ask any questions before signing it.
Be Present for the Home Inspection
As a potential buyer for the home, it is in your best interest to be there for the home inspection, walk it with the inspector and take notes. This doesn’t mean that you have to climb under the house, in the attic or on the roof, but you should be standing nearby to hear any comments the home inspector makes and to ask questions. This will help you better understand the home inspection report once it is ready.
Understand the Home Inspection Report
Many buyers experience hesitation once they start reading the inspectors comments because they do not fully understand them. Just because the home inspector marked that the HVAC system is five years old, that doesn’t mean the system is ready to be replaced. Understanding that most HVAC systems are designed to last between 10 and 15 years with proper maintenance will help you understand the notation.
If the home inspector is exceptionally good, he or she would have explained HVAC systems to you during your walk. And, like always, asking questions is a good way to clarify things you are unsure of.
Home Inspection Warnings
While you shouldn’t readily jump to the conclusion that the home is ready to fall apart as you read the home inspection report, you should watch out for certain notations. For example, if the home inspector indicates that the yard is improperly graded or the foundation is cracked, there may be serious and expensive problems with the home.
It is up to you, as the buyer, to determine if you want the price of the home reduced, the seller to make repairs, or if you want to continue your home search. With the knowledge gained from your inspection and a knowledgeable real estate agent, you should be confident in moving forward with an informed decision.