When it comes to buying a house, what you see is not always what you get. On your first visit to the house, you are likely to see freshly painted walls, colourful flowers, polished hardwood, granite countertops, and other phoney touches. What you might not be able to see is the dangerous plumbing, cracks on the foundation, ancient plumbing, or other defects that might be exposed when you hire a home inspector.
A home inspection is the same as the report given to you by your doctor after your annual physical. It is basically a record breakdown of your status, including any health concerns and things to watch and change to improve your current state. When purchasing a house, you must also be keen to dive deep into the finer details, or if you are not sure what to check for, hiring a specialist would be a great idea.
As a buyer, a home inspection report not only helps you to determine whether to purchase the home or not but also offers you a profound understanding of whether the home needs significant repairs or it has been well maintained. If, after conducting the inspection, you are not pleased with the home’s current state, you can request the seller to take care of the repairs or offer you a credit toward the cost of repairs incurred at closing. The inspection report can also help you in prioritizing repairs and future enhancements after buying the home.
Hiring a Home Inspector
The best way to make sure that you have all the information at hand before making your final decision on whether buying the house would be worth it is hiring a home inspector to help you out with the entire process. It would be best if you asked the inspector to check your list and tell you what is to be included in the inspection and what will not be included. Also, if you have any specific concerns about the home, you must address them during the inspection.
In most purchase agreements, the buyer is usually given a definite number of days to complete the inspection. Depending on the demand for the house, you may either have only a few days to inspect if the demand is high or a week or two if the demand is low.
It is, therefore, important that you choose an inspector as soon as the seller accepts your offer. Also, depending on the demand, you may have to pay more when hiring an excellent home inspector when their market demand is high.
It is essential for you as the buyer to familiarize yourself with some of the things the home inspector will be looking at during inspection in as much as it is their job to know. The more you know about the process, the easier it will be for them to evaluate the property. To make sure that everything is checked during the inspection, it is important that you equip yourself with a thorough checklist.
Things to Inspect
Here are some of the things you should look at when conducting a home inspection:
- No gaps between the walls and floors
- House doesn’t sag or lean
- No cracks in bricks or stonework
- No visible cracks in basement walls or around the frames
- Windows and door frames appear square, and there are no gaps
- Floors are even and strong
- The chimney is in good condition
- The porch and stairs are straight
- No moisture in the artic or ceiling
- No cracks or rust on flashing
- No loose, buckled, missing or curled shingles
- No spots or unevenness
- No aluminum wiring
- No painted outlets
- No knob and tube wiring
- No undergrounded three-prong plugs
- Check for the ground circuit interrupter protection
- No exposed wiring and splices
- No signs of fungi
- The thermostat is in working condition
- No evidence of leaks
- No rusty or broken pipes
- The toilet is stable and working properly
- There is adequate water flow
- The water heater is clean of sediment build-up
- Sink, shower, and tub are draining water properly
- No asbestos on water pipes, heating pipes or air ducts
- No combustion gas odor
- Air filters are clean
- No open seams in flues
- Unit is clear of rust
- No cracked ductwork
- No broken window glasses
- List switches are working properly
- Joints around window frames are caulked
- Doors open and latch properly
- Smoke detectors are working
- There are no stains on walls, ceilings, or the floor
Other than knowing the areas to cover during the inspection, it is important to know the things to look for when looking for an inspector. You should consider taking with your friends and family to find recommendations. You can also check online for reviews to see whether their past clients have positive experiences. Here are some questions you might consider asking the inspector just to see whether they are the right candidate for the job.
- Ask them whether they are a member of any professional inspection organization
- Their background experience in home inspections
- How long it will take them to do the home inspection
- Lastly, you should ask them if they will allow you to attend the inspection. If they refuse to let you attend, then that should be a red flag.
Home Inspection Checklist Templates
You can download our ready to use templates from here, to help you get through your first-time home buying experience.
Five Home Inspection Tips for First-Time Buyers
As a first-time homebuyer, home inspections may seem like a hard task at first, but it isn’t complicated if you know how to prepare well. Here are some tips to help you through your first inspection:
- Come up with the right questions to ask the seller during the inspection
- Request a disclosure agreement from the seller during the purchase
- Mind your due diligence and conduct your research
- Identify your deal breakers
- Work with referrals to find the best home inspector
- Be there during the home inspection
Who Pays for a Home Inspection?
In most cases, the buyer usually pays for the home inspection. However, some may insist that the seller should make the payment upon making an offer to purchase the house.
At times, the seller may commission a home inspection before they first offer the home. This reassures potential buyers and can also provide the owner with an excellent chance to fix issues ahead of putting out the property for purchase.
How Much is a Home Inspection?
Depending on the size of the home and the state or location of the home, one may have to pay from $200 to $400. It is important that you seek the best home inspectors in as much as you may have to pay more. Remember, as with most things in life, the cheapest isn’t always the best.
How Long does a Home Inspection Take?
Several factors determine the duration of an inspection; these include:
- The size of the home
- The number of defects
- The thoroughness of the inspector
- The helpfulness of the owner during the inspection period
Buying a home is one of the most significant, most valuable purchases one can ever make. As you finalize everything and you are ready to sign the purchase agreement, a home inspection checklist might be the last thing in your mind. However, conducting a home inspection is an essential process of making sure that your new home doesn’t have any unexpected repairs that could break your bank.