Home Inspection Tips for Buyers

A home inspection is a crucial part of the home buying journey. A home inspection helps buyers gauge the quality of their investment to ensure a home sale is successful.

Essentially, a home inspection is a visual assessment of a home’s structure and systems. From signs of flooding to cracks to electrical hazards, a standard home inspection helps to look for flaws that can spell trouble down the road.

The first step in the home inspection process is to hire a qualified home inspector. Obviously, not all home inspectors are created equal. Below are tips for hiring a home inspector:

  • Do local research. Then look for reviews on sites like Google and Yelp.
  • Understand what the inspection includes and what it excludes. Generally, a competent home inspector will check the attic, to the roof and into crawl spaces.
  • Ask for accreditations from home inspector organizations such as the National Association of Home Inspectors (NAHI) or the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI).
  • Have a fixer-upper or older home? Then, look for an inspector who is experienced. An experienced inspector will be able to look for things in the older homes that a novice inspector may overlook.
  • Ask the inspector how long the inspection should last. Generally speaking, inspections take anywhere between two to four hours.
  • Understand the cost of the home inspection. Typically, the cost ranges from $300 to $600. The cost, of course, varies depending on the inspector’s accreditation and location.
  • Get estimates for the costs for repairs. After the inspector has completed the inspection, get the cost estimates which you should then work into a new contract for the home.

A Typical Home Inspection Checklist

Use your initial tour of the home to examine the property yourself. If you notice any issue, jot it down on your notebook. Then, on the inspection day, hand over your notes to your inspector. These should be areas that you want him or her to give special attention to.

Here are the things to be on the lookout for:

Plumbing

  • Do the faucets and other fixtures have enough pressure?
  • Are there any unusual noises?

Electrical:

  • Has the electrical panel been recalled?
  • Do the ceiling fans work?
  • Is each outlet properly grounded?
  • Do all the switches work?

Ventilation and Sub-Systems

  • Is there a working exhaust fan in the kitchen?
  • Does the water heater produce enough hot water?
  • Do the heating and AC systems appear to be working?
  • Does the house smell? Can you identify the source?

Structural

  • Are there any stains on the floors, walls or ceilings?
  • Do the walls show vertical or horizontal cracks?
  • Has the home ever had a fire incident?

Appliances (if included)

  • Are there any leaks under the sinks (kitchen and bathrooms)?
  • What are the ages of the:
  • Oven?
  • Dishwasher?
  • Refrigerator?
  • Are the appliances well-maintained?

Yard

  • Are the walkways and driveway in good condition?
  • Are there any soggy areas you can identify?
  • Does the drainage slope away from the house?

Foundation

  • Are there trees near the foundation?
  • Are there any visible cracks on the outside walls?

Roof/Attic

  • When will the roof need to be replaced?
  • Are there any signs of leaks?
  • Is there flashing and trim installed?
  • Are there shingles missing?

Problems Commonly Identified During a Home Inspection

  • Poor maintenance: A variety of problems can result from poor maintenance, for example, a cracked driveway, worn shingles or chipped paint.
  • Foundation flaws: A home’s foundation is the load-bearing portion of the structure. Foundation problems are expensive to fix. Common signs of foundation issues include sticking windows and doors, small cracks, uneven floors, and so on.
  • Bad gutters: Maintaining your gutters is just as important as cleaning them regularly. Left unattended, clogged gutters can lead to serious damage and settlement problems.
  • Poor drainage: A poor drainage can damage the home’s foundation. Signs to be on the lookout for include leaks in the basement and soggy areas in the yard.
  • Faulty Plumbing: Faulty plumbing can do more than just cause the occasional backing up of a drain. Among other things, it can cause serious health and safety issues. Common indicators of faulty plumbing include water stains on ceilings and low water pressure.
  • Faulty wiring: this can cause HVAC issues, a blow out of the heating and electrical systems, or even a fire.
  • Pests: Pests can damage a home structure in many ways. Before closing the deal on the house, call in a pest control company to give you a quote when in doubt.
  • Mold: Mold issues can be extremely stressful and expensive. So before moving forward, you want to establish the root cause. If the mold is caused by plumbing damage or roof leak, the problem may be serious. If it is growing in the bathroom, the problem can go away by simply installing an exhaust fan.

True, no house is perfect. Be that as it may, a home inspection should be necessary during the home buying process. A good home inspection will assist you to understand exactly what you are about to acquire.