Finding a new home can be exhausting. Long hours spent browsing through listings and infinite open-house visits can drain you until you finally stumble upon the perfect property.
Even if the home looks like a dream, there's one obstacle that you'll still need to overcome before buying. To ensure that you're not about to purchase a money pit, it's essential that you have a professional home inspection done on the property before committing.
Read on to find more about what to expect from a home inspection.
Find an Inspector
If you're ready to make a bid, you can choose to get an inspection done before making an offer, or you can make an offer conditional on the inspection. It is your responsibility to find the home inspector.
Start with getting recommendations from family members or trusted friends. You can also ask your real estate agent if they have an inspector to recommend to you. Whomever you chose, make sure that the inspector is qualified or, if it's required, certified with their local or national home inspector society such as the American Society of Home Inspectors. These types of associations help to give you peace of mind about the inspector's qualifications and professionalism.
Before hiring, be sure to ask the candidates a few questions about their experience with home inspections, as well as what type of properties they work within or other specializations they might have. Make sure you know beforehand what's going to be included in the final report, so you know that all the issues you're worried about will be thoroughly addressed.
Make a List
A thorough evaluation of the structure should be done during the home inspection. The inspector should also evaluate the home’s essential internal systems. Of course, the inspector will have his or her own list, however double-check to make sure the inspector’s services include checking out all the following:
Electrical and plumbing systems; heating and cooling systems; radon detection, if applicable; walls, ceiling and flooring; windows and doors; roofing and foundation; and the basement, attic, and insulation.
Even with a detailed list like that, there are still a few potential problems that a house inspection might not uncover. Hidden issues such as mold, asbestos or termites might remain hidden, along with underground issues that are not accessible to the inspector, such as in wells or septic tanks. If you suspect any of the above problems, you'll want to set up separate, specialized inspections to address them.
During the Inspection
Make every effort to be on-site while the inspection is taking place. Follow the inspector as they make their route, taking advantage of the time to ask questions and learn everything you can about your potential new home - however, don't get in their way, so they don't miss anything important.
If it's impossible to be there, then set aside time with your inspector to go over your report in detail. You can even ask them questions about what different options you have to deal with the possible issue, or if there is anything you might need to keep an eye out for during other times of the year when conditions change.
Getting the Report
Once your evaluation is over, the inspector will create a report for you that details all their findings. Home inspections are very detailed, so these reports can be extensive, and you shouldn't be alarmed if you see issues on them.
All houses have some small issues. If you're purchasing a pre-owned home, you can expect between 40 to 100 minor issues to appear on your list, each one with information about the severity of the problem and estimates on how much it would cost to fix them.
Don't panic if your dream home has a lot of small marks - most of these things won't affect you living there, can be sorted out quickly or can be negotiated with the homeowner to be fixed before purchase.
If you have any questions about the report, don't hesitate to ask the inspector for extra information or help to clarify any details - you can even get their opinion on whether they think purchasing the property is ultimately the right choice for you and your family.