As a potential homeowner, you want to make certain the property you’re purchasing doesn’t contain major flaws. Most buyers find it’s worth investing in a thorough home inspection before the closing because this is the last chance to discover problems—ones that might be dealbreakers. Here are some suggestions of what your should do and what you can expect during the home inspection process.
Find a Reputable Inspector
You want to make sure the inspector you’re hiring is worth their salt, so start by asking your realtor, family, friends, and colleagues if they know anyone they trust or don’t trust. If you’re new to the community and don’t have many connections, you can and should go straight to your real estate agent.
Other places to check include the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) and the National Academy of Building Inspection Engineers. Also, search for online reviews and the Better Business Bureau website to determine consumer satisfaction.
What Inspections Cover
Home inspectors will closely examine several areas of the home, especially those that might contain major hidden flaws or safety hazards. While not necessarily set in stone, general inspections will typically include:
- HVAC system
- Interior plumbing
- Electrical systems
- Attic and basement
- Structural components
- Floors, ceilings, walls, and stairs (incl. guardrails)
- Hot water heater
- Windows and doors
- Fire/carbon monoxide alarms/fire sprinklers
If any significant flaws are found, you’ll have an option to back out of the deal or, if flaws are mostly acceptable, you can negotiate with the seller to fix problematic flaws.
What Inspections Don’t Always Cover
It’s important to understand there are areas a general home inspection won’t always cover, and you might need to hire additional inspectors to explore and test for the following problems:
- Radon gas
- Indoor air quality
- Lead paint
- Toxic mold
- Septic tank issues
General inspections also don’t include swimming pools, venting equipment for appliances, and inaccessible plumbing zones. Always ask what’s not covered by that inspector or company.
A home inspection takes about two to four hours, but time will vary based on the inspector’s process and the size of the home and what they are looking at. Homebuyers and their agent often attend the inspection to ask questions and learn information from the inspector as they go through the home.
Buying a home is a major purchase. A home inspection can prevent you from ending up with a home like the one highlighted in the movie “Moneypit.”