The words “home inspector” sends chills down the spines of buyers and sellers alike.
Yes, major property issues can be costly and can even disrupt the sale of a property. However, we like to think of home inspectors as the unsung heroes of home ownership and real estate transactions.
For buyers, home inspectors examine the property after they have made an offer but before closing. Buyers are told what needs to be repaired and can either agree to make or pay for them, add contingencies on the close for the seller, or even walk away from the sale entirely.
Sellers will often get their homes inspected before listing them so that they can fix any major issues before putting their homes on the market. Getting ahead of these home repairs helps streamline the closing process and reduces the risk of scaring a potential buyer away before a close.
Home inspections typically cost a few hundred dollars - and they’re well worth the money. Just ask the people who regret skipping their inspections.
What Do Home Inspectors Inspect?
If you’re buying a home for the first time, or it’s been awhile, you may not know what to expect from your home inspector. Per the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), here’s what your inspector’s report will cover the condition of a home’s:
There are some occasional exceptions to these inspections. If an area is considered unsafe or is currently inaccessible, like a locked off rooftop, then the inspector won’t be able to assess it. Inspectors will make a note of this if any of these issues arise.
It’s also worth noting that home inspectors have no interest in the cosmetic aspects of your home. The one exception is if they pose a potential safety issue, such as a large crack.
Home inspections usually take around 2-4 hours, but they may take longer depending on the size of your property. Inspectors then typically take a few days to report back their findings.
We strongly recommend that you join your home inspector as they examine a property. Doing so will provide you with valuable knowledge because they can answer any questions that you may have, like “What the hell is that light switch go to?!” By the end of the inspection, you’ll have a much better understanding of the condition of the property and what you need to do to maintain it.
How to Get Ready for a Home Inspection
Here are a few things you should do to make life easier for both you and the inspector:
Clean your place beforehand
We’re not talking about a quick pick up before having friends over. We mean a deep clean. Make sure that the inspector will be able to easily move around in your basement, attic, garage, and crawl spaces. Home inspectors need access to these areas to investigate any moisture or potential damages if they can’t, they’ll report it as “uninspectable” and you may have to have another inspection later on.
Give them access
Speaking of access, your inspector will also need to examine the furnace, water heater, and electrical panels. If the property is a condominium or a townhouse, they will also need access to other parts of the building, such as the roof. Make sure that you’re giving the inspector access to everything you’re capable of showing them.
Replacements and Repairs
If your HVAC system has dirty air filters or if your windows are cracked, get them fixed before having an inspector over. Clear any clogs that your bath or sink drains might have. Also, make sure that all of your light bulbs are functional. You want to minimize your chances of raising red flags with your inspector. They’re there to notify you of the issues you don’t know about, not the ones that you already do.
If you have pets, make sure that they are locked up before the home inspector arrives. You’ll also want to deal with any unwanted creatures prior to the inspection. Most inspectors won’t like coming across termite infestations or an army of carpenter ants.
Keep your receipts
If you’ve made repairs or had routine services done on various components of your home, keep the receipts. Water heater services or HVAC filter changes will be relevant to your inspection.
Can You Fail a Home Inspection?
Home inspectors are not health inspectors or teachers and will not fail you. They cannot appraise the value of a property, nor can they penalize you for having a home in poor condition or out of compliance.
Instead of a pass/fail grade, you are given an assessment of the physical condition of the property and suggestions for what systems or components may need to be repaired or replaced. Home inspectors are there to help you. Some of them even have connections to people who can help with specific repairs. They may also have recommendations based on their industry knowledge.
What Happens If They Find a Problem With the Property?
Home inspectors are all but guaranteed to find at least one issue with your property. Properties are like people - no one is perfect. Okay, Chris Evans is pretty damn close. If your property is Chris Evans’ quality, you’re in great shape (probably not Chris Evans shape, but you get the picture).
For the rest of us, home inspectors will undoubtedly find issues with your home. Sometimes these issues are so minor that you even have to fix them (did we mention those damn light switches that don’t do anything?). If they identify larger issues, it’s better that you know now rather than later. Like we said before, buyers can negotiate before closing if the inspection yields potentially deal-breaking results. Meanwhile, sellers are ultimately going to have to address these problems at some point anyway. It’s better to fix them now before they get worse. The home inspector’s job is to identify issues with the property and communicate how severe they may be.
Home inspectors don’t exist to crush your dreams. Their goal is to help you have a better understanding of your property and the problems it has. What you choose to do with this information is ultimately up to you.
By Anthony Greer
Anthony Greer specializes in content writing and brand messaging development for service-based businesses. www.anthony-greer.com