HOME INSPECTION – What To Expect???
OK, so you’ve found a home you fell in love with, negotiated the price, and have signed all the contracts. Next comes the home inspection…. this can be a source of stress and trepidation, especially for first time buyers. What if there are problems?? What if the house might fall down around you? What if, what if??? RELAX – a home inspection is a vital and normal part of home buying, and you will get through it!
Let’s start with what a home inspection is: It is an objective visual examination of the physical structure and systems of the house from the roof to the foundation. The buyer generally pays for the inspection, and it can last from 2-4 hours, depending on the size of the home. The inspection may also include tests for the presence of radon, mold, termite/carpenter ants, and if there is a septic system, that may be tested, too. The inspector is limited to readily visible and accessible items.
While it’s not required that you be there, it is highly recommended. You can observe the inspection, ask questions and learn a lot about maintenance items regarding your new home-to-be! In the 34 years I have been in the business, I have learned so much about how to maintain my own home – lots of helpful hints, too, along the way!
The purpose of the inspection it to notify you, the buyer, what conditions exist that you could NOT see during your tour and visits to the home. You don’t need the home inspector to point out a tear in the carpet, or a broken tile in the bathroom – he is there to discover items you can’t see or know about without investigation by a professional.
All homes have strong and weak points, If you are buying a resale, remember, there will be items that need to be addressed. Many items noticed during the inspection may be cosmetic – the items of concern should be structural issues. The home inspector works through a long list of potential concerns to identify major and minor deficiencies in the home. A good report will clearly describe the problems and illustrate them with photos.
Here is a general Home Inspection Checklist of items that will be covered:
* Structural elements: walls, ceilings, floors, roof and foundation
* Exterior: grading, drainage, siding, trim , fascia, windows, gutters and leaders, driveway and walkways, patios and decks
* Roof & Attic: framing, ventilation, insulation, age and type of roof, flashing, evidence of leaks
* Plumbing: including toilets, sinks, faucets, pipe material, showers/tubs – evidence of leaks & malfunction, water pressure will also be checked
* Electrical: main panel, circuit breakers, type of wiring, exhaust fans, receptacles, ceiling fans and light fixtures
* Systems & Components: Hot water heater (age and condition), furnace, duct work, chimney and fireplace, central air (weather permitting – it is usually not checked if temps are under 60-65 degrees, as this can possibly harm the unit)
* Appliances: range and oven, dishwasher, garbage disposal, built-in microwave
* Garage: walls, slab floor, garage doors and electric door openers will be checked
* Radon Testing – this is a normal part of the inspection, If the reading comes in under 4.0, that is considered within the acceptable/normal range. Anything over 4.0 should be remediated by the seller
- Underground oil tank sweep. Even if the sellers say there was never an oil tank, it is always prudent to have this test performed. If an oil tank is discovered, the seller should be responsible for removing it
- Homes that have well and septic systems also have test appropriate to those systems
- Check for OPEN PERMITS – always good to check with the building department to make sure all permits for any improvements (even fro many years ago) were properly CLOSED after the work was done and inspected. Your agent can help with this
You will receive a detailed report from your inspector within a few days. Take a deep breath, and read through it. Often, there will be a summary of the important items that were discovered. Remember, you have paid the inspector to discover everything he can about the home, so there will most likely be a long list of items – this is normal. No house is perfect. The items that are identified help you know in advance what to expect. If the items are structural in nature, or troublesome to you, then discuss them with your agent (or attorney) and decide what you would like the seller to address. This is all normal procedure in buying a home. Often, specific experts will be called in to further evaluate questionable items, and give estimates for repairs. You might decide to ask the seller to fix certain things, or, instead, give you a credit at closing so you can fix them with your own service people. I always encourage my buyers to be reasonable, and not make the items a wish list of upgrades! Sellers can get irritated if they feel the buyer is asking for items that aren’t structural or significant. I believe in asking for items that really matter, and are important. Remember, there is always a solution for every problem. The good news is, the buyer and seller usually reach a happy conclusion that works for and satisfies everyone involved.
Congratulations………you survived the home inspection (and so did the house)! You made it this far, and you’re almost at the finish line!!!!!!!!!
Enjoy the many years ahead of home ownership!