Buying a home can be a very long and frustrating process. After deciding which state and neighborhood you’d like to live in, it can often take weeks, months or even years surveying listings to find something you want. Even once you choose a home and successfully close a deal, the process doesn’t end there.
Before moving in, you have to make sure everything’s in order and your new residence is up to code. This process is called the home inspection.
Once the buyer has signed the purchase agreement, that’s when the home inspection takes place. This occurs right before the final closing date. If the inspector finds something that’s not to the buyer’s liking, the buyer can choose to back out. Sometimes the seller is willing to make the changes themselves or lower the purchase rate in order to give the new homeowner added value.
During a home inspection, a licensed professional will examine a property from top to bottom using state standards. Special emphasis is placed on evaluating the walls, foundation, roof, plumbing system, electrical system, and HVAC system. Inspectors also examine the operational ability of installed systems. This includes garbage disposals and carbon monoxide detectors, along with checking if there are any leaks, mold, mildew, and other signs of water damage.
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Tips to Remember for Buyers During a Home Inspection
If you’re a buyer who is expecting to go through a home inspection soon, here are a few things to remember:
Do a Pre-Inspection Yourself
You may not be an expert, but you know what you like and what you don’t like. Look for these more glaring issues before the inspector shows up, noting water damage, an unfavorable electrical layout, and even wiring issues. On the outside of the house, there’s also some things you can take a look at yourself. This includes drainage issues, peeling paint, problems with the siding. These are things you can bring to your inspector’s attention once they arrive.
Get Someone You Can Trust Your realtor can surely provide you with a list of home inspectors, but it’s better to do additional research on these individuals or select someone yourself. You can either get someone from trustworthy recommendations from a financial advisor or book someone online. You might have to pay a little extra for that, but ultimately it will be worth it.
The reason it’s better to go with a third-party home inspector is so that they can provide you with their unbiased opinions. Going with someone your realtor knows can often lead to biased judgments, and you want to make sure you have an objective perspective so you don’t run into issues later on down the line.
Show Up for the Inspection
Merely getting the inspection done isn’t enough. It’s very important for a buyer to be present at the inspection. This will allow you to supervise everything yourself and make sure your inspector doesn’t cut corners if you have any doubts. Although it’s vital to respect your home inspector’s time and knowledge, you also shouldn’t shy away from asking questions.
It’s better to get any doubts or questions out of the way from the very beginning than have to face issues in the future. Showing up for the inspection also lets you see the home’s structure and features yourself. You can view things on the spot and ask questions about small concerns that arise as you examine the details along with your home inspector.
Pictures Serve as Proof
Always ask for pictures during a home inspection. Every worthy home inspector will always carry a camera to show you photos post the inspection, especially regarding issues that need to be fixed. These photos will help you get an idea of whether these are problems that will crop up in the future or if they can be fixed immediately. You can then ask your real estate agent whether you should ask the seller to fix these problems or whether they’re ones you need to fix yourself.
Looking behind walls and floors is equally essential during an inspection, which is why home inspectors should also carry thermal and infrared cameras. This gives them access to areas that are otherwise difficult to explore without ripping out drywall or flooring. Therefore, make sure to remind your home inspector of this.
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Give Attention to the Roof
As a buyer, you need to make sure that your home inspector actually carries out the roof inspection. Roofs play a major role in keeping the interior of the house in good shape. Replacing a roof can be very expensive and high on labor. This is why you need to get it properly inspected.
Find out about how old the shingles are, when the roof was last replaced, whether any warranty exists for it, and so on. Pay attention to the presence of curling or if any shingles are missing. Special care should be given to examining if there’s a skylight, vent, or chimney, and whether or not these elements have water damage.
Check the Attic
See to it that your home inspector can get inside the attic without causing any insulation issues. This will allow you to learn a lot about the house and any renovations or repairs that could be required. A properly maintained attic is very important in protecting the house.
If the bathroom fans are not properly vented into the attic, that’s something the home inspection can detect. In case it’s vented directly into the attic, it will only send humid air and moisture into the attic where it will cause mold to grow and thereby causing further problems for you. Also, ask your inspector to check the attic for any air leaks.
Check the Plumbing and GFCIs
There are a few things inside the house that inspectors should pay close attention to. First, the plumbing. Make sure bathtubs and showers are tested for leaking. Check out the water pressure, which can be an indicator of a larger issue with the pipes. The inspector should also check the main and shut-off points.
GFCI outlets are part of the building code in rooms where moisture is present. This includes the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room. Inspectors will often check these outlets to make sure they aren’t malfunctioning. Sometimes this can lead to bigger electrical problems, so make sure this is a priority.
Don’t Forget the Basement
One last location you don’t want to miss is the basement. You can check out the foundation if you study an unfinished basement, giving hints to the home’s overall condition. Look for cracks, water issues, and other signs of past repairs. While a crack is not always a deal breaker when it comes to buying a home, you do want to understand why it formed in the first place. A structural engineer may need to get involved if your inspector feels it’s necessary.
Know When and What to Ask For
Although as a buyer you have all the right to ask the seller to fix major structural problems or the issues to any major systems, you should also know when to ask and when to just let it be. Sellers can either choose to hire someone to fix the damaged areas or offer you credit. In case they refuse to do any, then you can make the decision to back out of the deal.
However, if the problem is trivial, it’s best to let it be. Cosmetic imperfections, for example, are things than you can fix after purchasing the house. It doesn’t make sense to ask the seller to fix every broken light bulb or chipped area. It’s very important for buyers to know when to approach the sellers with complaints and when to just let it go. If your safety isn’t at risk, you can save money and time by saving the issue for later.
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Make the Inspection Official
See to it that the home inspection is a part of the contract as a contingency clause. This makes it official and keeps your money safe. In case you are dissatisfied with the inspection, you can make the decision to back out and not go ahead with the final purchase.
Some people don’t make the inspection official, and that’s usually a mistake. Even if you’re buying it from a friend or relative, writing it on paper is better for both parties and alleviates your worries about safety issues and other kinds of negligence.
Home Inspection Mistakes to Avoid
Now you are more aware of what you need to do, but let’s take a look at some things you must avoid if you want to make the most of the home inspection.
Never skip on the inspection
A lot of times, buyers feel safe purchasing a new construction home. So safe, in fact, that they’ll forgo the inspection altogether. This is a mistake. Even new homes have issues and you don’t want to overlook them when it comes to such a big decision.
In fact, you should go all out when it comes to inspections, even for newer homes. Make sure you’re inspecting everything, even the pool, septic systems, wells, and anything else that is often not considered a part of a basic inspection. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Choosing the cheapest inspection option
Like we already said, you do not want to skimp on house inspections. That is also the case when it comes to the quality. You almost never want to go for the lowest prices, since it can point to inexperience or other issues that make them not reliable or efficient. Make sure to always do thorough research on an inspector before picking them, no matter the price point.
Not being present for the inspection
Even though you may trust the inspector you picked, don’t solely rely on their report. The most detailed report in the world won’t make up for being there yourself. By being present, you’re able to ask questions as the inspector goes through their process.
Being overly involved in the inspection
While you don’t want to spend the entire inspection checking your emails or taking calls outside, you don’t want to get in the way either. Following the inspector around is fine, even encouraged. But you don’t want to waste the inspector’s time chatting. This can distract them from the inspection, causing them to miss something potentially important. It’s best to not touch or test anything during the process either. Leave it up to the inspector.
Expecting a perfect report (and overreacting if it’s not)
You won’t always hear what you want after an inspection. Every house has flaws. No home is perfect. In fact, inspectors will often find around 50 to 100 issues, although many are considered minor. Don’t let every issue scare you from the purchase. Instead, discuss your concerns with the inspector to find out which issues are worth concern and which are not. You’ll quickly realize that some repairs are not mandatory upon move-in. Or even ever.
On the other hand, sometimes these negatives — even the small ones — can be used during negotiations. Just remember to only focus on the actual concerns you have, so you don’t turn the seller away from you. Sometimes a long list of minor issues can lead to a seller backing out of a contract. Keep your list reasonable and do some research on estimated repair costs.
Not getting negotiated repairs reinspected
This is a big one. Once the negotiated repairs have been completed, you’ll want to get a final signoff from the inspector. Sometimes inspectors will catch some repairs that still need to be done. Sometimes they’ll even notice that sellers have lied about what work has been done.
A home inspection forms a pertinent part of the pre-purchase process. It gives you an idea of the condition of the house you’re planning to reside in. Make sure that your home inspector is thorough with their investigation so that the report you receive is legitimate and useful.Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and ensure that you show up for the inspection. Asking the seller to fix major problems isn’t a faux-pas whatsoever, and also know when to let the trivial matters be. Remember to employ these tips so you can make sure your home is a happy one. To get started, find out how Cher can streamline the house buying process and help you find agents, resources, and lucrative deals.