3 Things a Home Inspector Wants You to Know
Posted On: Jun 10, 2016
Once you’ve finished the exhaustive home search, made an offer on your next dream home, and had that offer accepted, the next step in the process is often the home inspection.
The inspection is definitely a big deal – it can be the difference between a done-deal and another round of negotiating to address any issues that are uncovered. The following are some things you should keep in mind before scheduling your home inspection.
1. We can’t tell you not to buy a house.
“Should I/we buy this house?” is a question home inspections are certainly familiar with.
We can’t tell you if you should buy a house or walk away, as we aren’t supposed to provide clients with real estate advice. We’re there to report the facts.
However, listen to what we have to say. Are we using phrases like “a lot of issues” or “major problems”? Understand what we’re implying – if you’re going through with the sale, be ready to spend major cash to fix those major problems.
2. There are other things we can’t tell you.
Keep in mind that while we review quite a bit of your home, there are certain areas that may not be included, either because we’re not specialists on the issue or it simply isn’t covered in a home inspection.
Generally, most qualified home inspectors will check out the following parts of the home:
• Interior plumbing and electrical systems
• Heating and cooling systems
• The condition of doors, windows, walls, floors, and ceilings
• The attic, the foundation, and the basement
• Any additional structural components
There are other issues that, if you have reason to be concerned, you may need additional resources to inspect and detect. For example:
Environmental health hazards: Most home inspections do not cover detecting hazards such as asbestos, lead, mold, and similar dangers. In many cases, there is special licensing and training required to deal with these issues.
What’s behind the walls: Rotting wood, poor wiring or piping, and the like aren’t usually uncovered by a home inspector because an inspection is supposed to be non-invasive, looking at what is visible to the naked eye.
Reject roofs: Home inspectors are generally only obligated to inspect parts of the home that can be considered “readily accessible.” So despite the importance of your roof (they are quite expensive to replace, after all), there is no obligation for the inspector to climb up and inspect it up-close and personal. Roofs can be difficult to access, slippery, or steep (read: dangerous). In most cases, the inspector will observe the roof from the ground below.
Creepy crawlers: While we may observe indicators of a bug problem and make mention of them off the record, it’s up to a pest inspector to determine if a home has a pest problem.
The great outdoors: There are several outdoor items that aren’t going to be covered in a home inspection. For example, sheds, wells, gazebos, and structures separate from the main house aren’t going to be included. Neither is the landscaping – your trees, shrubs, fencing, and the like aren’t considered in a home inspection.
Perhaps most importantly, your septic system (tank and leach field) may need attention – either repair, cleaning, or replacing – and a home inspector isn’t going to be the one make that determination.
3. You can (and should) attend the inspection.
Not everyone realizes that it is perfectly acceptable for a potential homebuyer to attend the home inspection. In some cases, it can even be to both the inspector and the buyer’s advantage. For example, the inspector may be able to understand your major areas of concern, and adjust the inspection accordingly.
Remember, buying a home is a big decision, and there’s no reason to hold on to what you may think is a “dumb” question. Your inspector is trained to know a whole lot more about homes than you do!
If you’re lucky, the inspector may even give you advice on how to maintain parts of your home (like the boiler or furnace), where the water shut-off is, and answer common questions a new homebuyer often has.
You should take advantage of having an expert on-hand looking at what may be your home for years to come; ask, and find out what you need to know. Just remember to be respectful of the inspector’s time, and try to keep your questions brief. Let him or her talk.
Keep in mind that no matter the outcome of the inspection, most anything can be repaired. Always work with a licensed (if applicable), certified inspector, and take advantage of online reviews to find someone who you can trust will help you understand the inspection process, and the inspection results.