The Home Inspection
Now that you’ve found the right home inspector, it’s time to get the inspection done. Years ago, home inspections were rare for residential properties. It was usually the buyer and realtor who walked together through the property and made a determination about its condition. Today, though, professional home inspectors not only diagnose the condition of most elements of a property, but they also provide you with a written document that outlines a basic “health plan” for the home for the coming years. Here’s the type of information you should expect to see in the report:
- Exterior Elements: The inspector will have walked around the property, probably with binoculars and a camera, examining the lay of the land. He will determine factors like elevation and drainage, and check the condition of trees on the property, especially those close to the house, driveway and sidewalks.
The exterior inspection is where the condition of sidewalks, driveways, fences, patios and decks will be determined. The inspector will also take a close look at the visible exterior portion of the home’s foundation, and will evaluate the house’s facings (siding, bricks, stucco, etc.) and the general condition of the roof (e.g., is it sagging anywhere?)
- Structural Elements: Inspectors will examine very carefully the foundation of the home, including cracks in basement walls. He will also walk through the house looking at the walls, ceiling and floors for any signs of shifting. If there are problems, you might consider calling in a structural engineer for specific advice.
- Basement/Crawlspace: Inspectors will check basements and crawlspaces for signs of moisture, termites, etc. Bear in mind, though, that the inspector is not performing an official termite inspection, unless that is specified ahead of time.
- Roof: A good home inspector will bring an extension ladder or lift in order to climb up the side of the house to examine the roof carefully. He may even climb out on to the roof to check the soundness of any chimneys, flashing and vents.
- Attic: Inspectors climb into the attic or at least examine attic crawl spaces to check the roof’s underside for any signs of leaks or other problems.
- Plumbing: Most inspectors will try all sink and bath faucets for water pressure and drips, and will flush each toilet and examine whether or not they have leaks. He will look at all water lines and waste pipes, noting their composition and condition. He will take an especially careful look at sewage lines in the basement or crawl space.
- Electric: Good inspectors will have a small portable device with them that checks each outlet for grounding and polarity. He’ll turn on every light or ceiling fan switch and check visible wiring in the basement and attic, noting whether it’s up to current code or not. Some homes, for instance, still have old knob and tube wires which today are considered a higher fire risk, and therefore require a special type of homeowner’s insurance. The inspector will also examine the house’s breaker box and note its condition and capacity.
- Systems: A home inspector will check the furnace, air conditioning and water heater units in the house, as well as the pipes and ductwork associated with them. He will also check any fireplaces or sprinkler systems.
- Appliances: Many homes for sale include basic appliances. If this is the case with the property you are having inspected, the home inspector will also check their condition. Appliances not only include stoves and refrigerators, but can also mean dishwashers, stove hoods, garbage disposals and smoke detectors.
- Garage and Other Property Structures: A good inspector will examine a home’s garage or any other structures on the property (barns, sheds, tree houses, etc.) in the same manner as he inspected the main house.
Home inspections typically cost $300.00 – $500.00, and it’s the first thing to schedule once your offer has been accepted. In most cases, you will have included a contingency clause stating that your offer assumes a successful home inspection, and you could modify the offer pending the outcome.
If there are problems, you have to decide whether or not you want to ask the seller to fix them (“request for remedies”), or you will fix them yourself after the closing. If you want the seller to make the repairs, remember that he or she will be motivated to get the work done as cheaply as possible, so you will want your modified offer to include a contingency that the seller’s repairs will be subject to your approval at the final walk through of the property.
If you decide to assume responsibility for the repairs yourself, then you will need to get estimates from professionals as to what the repairs will cost. You can then propose to deduct the repair costs from the selling price of the home.
Are you looking for advice on how to proceed at this point? Then call Susanne today at 614-975-9650 for recommendations and suggestions.