Navigating the home inspection process can be a daunting task for both seller and buyer. After all, the seller wants to ensure that there are no issues that might hold up the transaction, while the buyer wants to ensure they are not getting a lemon.
One of the best ways to ensure a seamless process is by asking the right questions. Know what questions to ask during a home inspection can save you time and headaches down the road; it is the best way to guard against surprises on either side of the transaction.
Are you proper licensed and insured and what is your experience with homes like this one?
Ask your home inspector whether they have experience inspecting homes like yours to determine if they know where to look and what to look for when conducting a thorough overview of the space.
You should also ensure that your chosen home inspector is properly licensed and insured before contracting with them.
What do you charge?
Each state has its own averages regarding the cost of a home inspection. Get quotes from several different individuals or companies so that you can compare rates.
Whatever quote you choose, get it in writing. This is the most important step of the process in hiring a home inspector. Shady characters will tell you one price, and if you don’t get it in writing, come back with a much higher figure later.
What exactly do you look for?
Qualified and experienced home inspectors have a lengthy checklist that they use to do their work in the home. Anyone flying by the seat of their pants on this process is highly likely to overlook something.
Your home inspector will provide you with a comprehensive report and it should match up with everything that they told they would assess during the inspection.
Remember, your home inspector is an industry professional, so they understand exactly what is included in the report. Be wary of any inspector unable or unwilling to explain the details of the report. This is part of their job and they should be patient in detailing for you what they included, why and how big of an issue it is.
What don’t you look for?
It might seem as though you will already know based on what the home inspector does look for. However, there are so many issues that can crop up in a home inspection, it helps to know what the inspector doesn’t look for as much as you need to know what they do.
This will provide you with a blueprint for potential issues that may crop up down the road because they are not part of a routine property inspection.
Can I walk with you while you conduct the inspection?
An experienced home inspector should allow you to tag along while they conduct the inspection. It is beneficial to know how the systems in your home work and it gives the inspector the opportunity to explain the most important components of the pending report.
How long will the home inspection take?
This depends on the inspector’s schedule as well as the size and condition of the home. It may be helpful to get even a roundabout timeframe, so that you can plan accordingly if you will be in attendance.
Is the home’s insulation up to par?
If you care about keeping heating and air conditioning bills under control, then your home’s insulation is a matter of importance. Many homeowners can go years never knowing that energy issues are related to poor insulation.
Your home inspector can tell you if the existing insulation is effective specific to different areas of the home, such as common living areas, attic and basement spaces and exterior walls.
Are there any specific hazards relating to fire, water, pests or health?
A home inspection can uncover things like mold growth in dark areas that can compromise your health without you ever knowing it was there or fire hazards that exist in the home’s infrastructure, behind walls or within the wiring construct.
This is part of the reason that a home inspection is so integral to the sales and purchasing process. While the home inspection report will be detailed and thorough, ask specifically about hazards as they are among the first elements of the report to address for safety reasons.
If there is something found during a property inspection that represents a safety issue, don’t wait to address it. Remember that safety is paramount in the home purchasing or selling process. This is especially true for issues relating to fire or health hazards; address them immediately before moving forward in the sales process.
What is the condition of the wiring in the home?
Again, this gets to the heart of the most urgent matters to be addressed within the inspection report. The electrical wiring is as important an issue in the home as the structure itself.
The wiring is an important to address if there any problems that require immediate fixes. The condition of the wiring is not only an issue of safety, but also, impacts other areas of the home, such as appliances.
The inspector can give you a clear idea of what needs to be replaced – if anything – were wiring is concerned, so that you can deal with it before moving forward.
Did you notice anything out of the ordinary?
Every home is bound to have issues. However, most of them tend to be common and experienced home inspectors come across few things they’ve never seen.
With this in mind, it is perfectly acceptable – if not recommended – to get an opinion from your inspector. Ask if they uncovered anything unusual during the inspection. They can indicate to you whether this is an issue that is easily resolved or something they have not encountered in the past.
Does the home have good structural integrity?
One of the most important jobs that a home inspector does is determine the structural integrity of the home. The foundation is as important as the roof, if not more so. Therefore, cracks in the foundation may indicate structural issues that make it dangerous.
Ask if the inspector found cracks, how big and where they are located. The type of cracks is also a factor; for instance, a horizontal crack along the basement floor is a different issue than a step crack along the exterior wall.
The general rule regarding cracks is the width: if you can insert a dime into the crack, consult a home foundation specialist for further guidance.
Should I be concerned about tree roots now or in the immediate future?
One of the things that a comprehensive property inspection can show is the potential for issues with tree roots now or in the future. Tree roots not only present a problem in terms of structural or foundational issues, but also, can cause significant issues with your plumbing.
Did you uncover any evidence of rodents or other critters?
This might seem like a minute issue, but rodents and other animals can cause major damage in and around your home. The property inspection should uncover any entry points (if they are getting into the home) and determine the extent of any damage they may be causing.
This will also help you to determine whether or not you need extermination services prior to selling or purchasing the home.
What is your biggest concern?
Good communication is key when working with an experienced home inspector. Ask what the inspector’s biggest concerns are and the timeline on which they advise having it fixed.
Some home inspectors will simply provide the report without further preamble; others, however, will take the time to go over the report with you in detail, answer questions and explain what their biggest concerns are and why.
Is the plumbing in good shape?
Even if the rest of the home doesn’t have any major issues, a home inspection can indicate issues that may pop up down the road. One of the top questions to ask a home inspector is regarding the condition of the plumbing systems.
Ask about the pipe and drainage systems in and around the home. The property inspection should also give you an idea of the water heater’s condition and age. Anything the report can uncover about the plumbing can help you to be more proactive and might save you from major repairs down the road.
What is your professional opinion of the roof’s condition?
One of the biggest expenses you will likely ever have as a homeowner is a roof replacement. It is much better to know when selling or buying a home whether the roof will be a mitigating factor in the sale before getting to the end of the transaction.
Ask the inspector’s opinion of the roof’s condition, so you can determine if it needs to be addressed now or if it seems in good condition for years to come.
What do you recommend I fix first?
One of the top questions to ask a home inspector is what they think you should fix first. This will help you to prioritize in terms of what to address first on the list.
This is especially helpful in situations where there are multiple items on the list that need to be addressed.
Can you recommend a professional to fix these issues?
Because they work in the industry, home inspectors often have connections with other construction professionals that may be able to provide you with quality work that will ensure the problem is properly resolved. Ask for a recommendation, so you know you’re working with a contractor you can trust.
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