When buying a home, most purchasers think the process consists of attending open houses, going on showings with their agent, finding “the one,” writing an offer, and signing the papers. However, there is a lot more that happens between the ratification of a contract and crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s at the settlement table. One of the most important aspects of buying a home is having a home inspection completed by a licensed professional, not only to uncover significant or hidden issues within a home, but also to educate the new owner as to how the systems in the home work.
A home inspection is an opportunity for you to get acquainted with the home before you move in. With that in mind, it is highly encouraged to attend the home inspection so that you can hear directly from the inspector what their findings are and so they can show you where and how to use the systems in the house. For this reason, make sure to find a time of day where you can spend at least 3 hours (or more with larger homes) with the inspector and your agent to inspect the property.
Typically inspectors will begin outside of the home, then head to the basement or lowest point and work their way up to the top floor. You are welcome to accompany the inspector as they go, but don’t feel obligated to stick by their side the entire time. If anything of note comes to their attention, the inspector will let you know. Don’t worry about remembering every little thing—they will include it in a detailed and exhaustive inspection report, which can be 20-40 pages.
So what exactly do inspectors look at? A better question would be to ask what they DON’T look at! A typical inspection will include: furnace and AC units, attics/insulation, water heater, ventilation, roof and gutters, floors/walls/ceilings, kitchen equipment, doors and windows, foundation/framing, siding and trim electrical system, grading landscaping, plumbing system, driveways/sidewalks, bathrooms, porches/decks, basements/slabs, stairs/railings, sump pumps, fences/retaining walls, and garages/carports.
After the inspection, the inspector will write up a detailed, thorough report with any notable findings about the house. It will begin with a summary of potentially significant findings and where they can be located within the report. The report is accompanied by detailed photos illustrating where problems are, if applicable.
Just as essential as the home inspection is the home inspector. Not sure where to look? Buyers can count on their agent to recommend a few options in terms of inspectors, as fees can widely vary. Though it is now a requirement that inspectors be licensed, it is always good to double check their licensure. Home inspections are essential because they can uncover potentially harmful defects with the house, which can sometimes result in the buyer voiding the contract under the home inspection contingency. It is important to remember that no matter what kind of house it is or when it was built, no house is perfect. Home inspections educate buyers about not only the condition of the house but also how it is operated. Home inspections are key for understanding what lies ahead in homeownership.