There are a lot of homebuyers out there who know home-buying backwards and forwards. They will march along with a home inspector from attic to basement, chuckling over chimney design and debating the pros and cons of in-floor heating. If that isn’t your home inspection style it’s perfectly fine.
If you hire a home inspection professional, you really don’t need to know exactly what to look for during a home inspection. Your home inspector will be able to point out anything the seller may have tried to sweep under the rug (or hold up with duct tape) as well as give you a time frame for when certain problems will need attention. If you are thinking, “How do I do my own home inspection?” below is a basic list of things to look for when doing it yourself. However, we suggest professional home inspectors because their extensive knowledge is usually worth the cost in the long run.
Things to Look For During a Home Inspection
Buyer Home Inspections – Tip 1: Check structural aspects
Structural aspects include the foundation, support structures (like beams), and framing, among others. Cracks in the foundation, improper structural engineering and things that could potentially make the home unsafe will all be evaluated. Some people ask, “Should I get a structural inspection in addition to a general home inspection?” If your general home inspector finds any structural issues, you might want to get a specialized structural engineer to do a home inspection.
Buyer Home Inspections – Tip 2: Inspect plumbing
Does this property have water and gas supply lines with the proper shut-offs? How is the water pressure? Could there be anything potentially hazardous, or even just plain inconvenient, with the drainage and functional flow of liquids? Your home inspector will be able to tell you.
Buyer Home Inspections – Tip 3: Examine heating, cooling and ventilation systems
Ah, HVAC. There is a lot of hype surrounding super-efficient heating and cooling systems these days, so HVAC is often in the news. During your home inspection, all of the home’s controls and thermostats, filters, ductwork and pumps will be examined so you can decide if you want or need to keep what comes with the home purchase, or if you’re going to upgrade.
Buyer Home Inspections – Tip 4: Inventory major appliances
Not all new homes come with their appliances, but most will – even if they aren’t stainless steel. From washers and dryers to ceiling fans and microwaves, you will have a complete evaluation of what works, what kind of works and what didn’t pass inspection. If you are buying a house that is a short sale and foreclosure, and the appliances have been removed, the home inspector can help ensure there was no damage when the appliances were removed.
Buyer Home Inspections – Tip 5: Scrutinize the roof
Roof inspections cover the materials used, chimneys, all the gutters and downspouts, and the things they refer to as “flashed penetrations,” which include vents and skylights. With an inspection, you’ll have a better idea if you’ll be spending autumn months digging goop out of your gutters, and if those pretty cedar wood shingles are as flammable as they say they are. But most importantly, you will know approximately how long before the roof will need to be replaced. If you are negotiating after a home inspection, roof issues are one of the most expensive items to fix or replace.
Buyer Home Inspections – Tip 6: Don’t forget attics and exterior components
Insulation? Check. Ventilation? Check. Crawl spaces? Check. All these hard to reach places are key components in a home inspection. And with a professional home inspector, he is the one crawling and climbing into these less than desirable places.
Buyer Home Inspections – Tip 7: Wiring and breakers
If you are wondering, “How do I do my own home inspection?” ask yourself whether you really know enough about electrical wiring to ensure your new home is safe. At the very minimum, you want to know: Is anything going to explode or catch on fire? And if it does, are there working smoke detectors? A professional home inspector will also let you know if the electrical wiring is up to code.
What to Expect During a Home Inspection
Your home inspection should take a few hours, depending on the house size and number of accessories. Many times, you’ll be invited to tag along, so the home inspector can verbally explain what he or she is looking at and for. In addition, you’ll be given a detailed, written account of everything within a couple of days of the inspection. Some of the more tech-savvy inspectors take photos or videos of issues and supply electronic files along with a written report.
These services do not come cheap and there is really no set rate for buyer home inspections. Most will cost at least several hundred dollars depending on the region, size of home, age of home and extras such as septic systems and wells, but it is worth it not to cut corners and pinch pennies.
Hopefully everything will check out, and you can shake hands with the seller and start moving in! If not, though, you will at least have a professional opinion of anything that might need fixing or replacing before you sign away your bank account. For more information on what to expect from both home inspection and home appraisal, see our article on appraisal versus home inspection.
Where to Find a Home Inspector
A quick Google search for “home inspector” will give you the certified home inspectors in your area. Asking your friends or realtor® for recommendations is also a good way to find trustworthy and qualified professionals. With all the online review sites these days, you can also find recommendations online. For a certified home inspector, visit the American Society of Home Inspectors to connect with those who have met and exceeded rigorous testing in the industry.