The reality of purchasing a home is within your reach. You have just had your purchase agreement accepted by the sellers and now you just have a few other obstacles to overcome before you are a happy home owner, not the least of which is the home inspection. Here are some tips designed to help set the proper expectations of your home inspection.
What exactly is a home inspection?
A home inspection is a complete evaluation of the visible and accessible systems and components of a home. It is intended to give the home buyer a better understanding of a homes overall general condition. A home inspection delivers vital information so that decisions about the purchase can be confirmed or questioned, and can uncover serious and/or expensive to repair defects that the seller/owner has neglected or may not be aware of. It is not an appraisal of the property value; nor does it address the cost of repairs. It does not guarantee that the home complies with local building codes or protect a client in the event an item inspected fails in the future. A home inspection should not be considered a technically exhaustive evaluation, but rather an evaluation of the property as it sits on the day it is inspected.
A home inspection by definition is not designed to be a warranty, guarantee, or cradle to grave insurance policy that nothing will ever break, fail, leak, or cease to function as originally intended. A home and all of the systems and components within are dynamic with a finite service life. Some systems and components will fail or need replacement at a predictable point in time, while other systems and components fail unpredictably and usually at the most inconvenient of times.
What should I expect during the inspection?
Expect your home inspection to last anywhere between 2-5 hours. The length of the inspection will greatly depend on the age, size, condition, and whether or not the home is occupied. Expect to be present during the inspection. While it is not mandatory that you be present, it is a good idea. By being present during the inspection, you can voice any concerns you may have about the home and ask questions to learn about your new home. You can also see what your inspector sees when he or she sees it. This is particularly important in the event the seller chooses to dispute an item that shows up in the report. You saw it too! This is your time, take advantage of it.
Expect your home inspector to be there before you. Good home inspectors always arrive early to get a feel for the home before they start. Many times, they will begin on the exterior of the home looking for clues that may lead them to certain defects inside the home.
Expect your home inspector to take plenty of digital photos during the inspection. Home inspectors use these photos in their report to fully document his or her findings. You know the old saying, a photo is worth a thousand words.
Expect the unexpected! Even the savviest of home buyers can get surprised during a home inspection. Home inspectors look at and inspect homes much differently than the average Joe. It is almost a certainty that your home inspector will uncover one or more things that you didn’t see or expect.
Expect your home inspector to look at and inspect all of the major systems within the home. Do not expect your home inspector to concern themselves with cosmetic issues such as marks on the wall or stained carpeting. Your home inspector should be following a standards of practice that encompasses the following items:
Exterior components: (siding, trim, windows, doors, decks, patios, driveway, concrete areas, grading)
Roof, gutters and downspouts
Foundation/structure of the home
Attics, basements and crawlspaces
Insulation and ventilation
Electrical systems and components
Plumbing systems and components
Heating and air conditioning systems and components
Kitchen including all permanent appliances and bathrooms
Additional items and systems unique to a particular home can also be inspected. This however will greatly depend on your home inspectors knowledge and experience.
What should I expect after the inspection?
Expect to receive your inspection report within 24 hours. Most home inspectors will email you your inspection report the same day as the inspection. The report should describe in relative detail the entire condition of the home inside and out. Any defects noted in the report should be detailed through written observation as well as photo documentation and have a clear recommendation from the inspector. Expect to go over your inspection report with your Realtor and express any concerns that you would like to have addressed.
Expect to have questions. Most home inspectors are more than willing to take any additional questions you may have after the initial home inspection takes place. Should something come up for instance, that needs more clarification from the inspector, you should be able to call your home inspector and ask any questions that you may have.
Expect bumps in the road. In some (not all) cases the home inspection derails a purchase agreement due to the homes condition. Some defects found during home inspections can easily scare a potential home buyer away from the home. It greatly depends on the severity of the issue, the cost involved and who will be the one paying for it. It is also important to be realistic in your home search and understand that unless you are building a new home, you are buying a “used” home and as such, none of them will be perfect.