Home inspections serve as a vital tool in the real estate industry, benefiting both buyers and sellers. For buyers, an inspection helps uncover potential issues or defects that may not be visible during a casual walk-through. This information can be used to negotiate repairs, request a lower sale price or even decide to walk away from the deal. On the other hand, sellers can use the inspection report to address issues proactively, increasing the chances of a smoother and more successful sale. Additionally, home inspections help maintain the integrity of the real estate market by promoting transparency and honesty in property transactions. In this blog, we’ll outline what you can anticipate during the home inspection process.
After an offer has been accepted, the initial step on the home inspection checklist for buyers is to schedule a home inspection. Buyers bear the home inspection cost and should choose a professional home inspector with a good reputation.
Certified home inspectors are crucial because their expertise and training ensure that a property’s condition is thoroughly and impartially assessed. Certification indicates that the inspector has met certain professional standards and is up-to-date on the latest regulations and best practices.
The Visual Examination
The visual examination conducted by a home inspector is a meticulous and systematic process aimed at assessing the overall condition of the property. It involves a detailed inspection of both the interior and exterior aspects of the home.
It is highly recommended that the home buyer be present during the house inspection process. Being present during the inspection provides an opportunity for the buyer to gain a firsthand understanding of the property’s condition. As you and the inspector go down the house inspection checklist, the inspector can point out issues, explain their significance and answer any questions.
An average home inspection is two to three hours. If you don’t have that much time to spare, you may choose to come for the final part of the inspection to discuss findings and ask questions. Ultimately, attending the home inspection is a valuable opportunity for buyers to make an informed decision about their potential future home.
You can follow your inspector along with your own home inspection checklist below:
- Foundation: The foundation is the backbone of a house, and its integrity is crucial. Inspectors examine the foundation for any cracks, settling or water damage. Problems in the foundation can result in structural issues, underscoring the significance of evaluating this area completely.
- Roof: The roof shields against the elements. Inspectors will check the condition of the roofing materials, such as shingles or tiles, to identify any damage, wear or deterioration. They will also look for proper flashing, ventilation and the absence of leaks.
- Walls: Exterior and interior walls are reviewed for signs of damage or structural concerns. This includes checking for cracks, water stains and indications of pest infestations, like termites. Inside, inspectors might also identify issues related to the walls’ structural integrity or insulation.
- Electrical systems: Inspectors will check the electric panel, electrical outlets, wiring, switches and fixtures for anything outdated or faulty that may cause safety concerns.
- Plumbing: Plumbing inspections include assessing the condition of pipes, fixtures and drainage systems. Leaks, corrosion, water pressure and the functionality of all sinks, toilets, showers and faucets are scrutinized. Additionally, inspectors may examine for indications of water damage.
- Heating and cooling systems: The inspector will evaluate the condition and functionality of the HVAC system, which includes the furnace, air conditioner, heat pumps and ductwork. They also look at safety features, like the cleanliness of air filters.
- Appliances: Any appliances included in the purchase agreement will be assessed for their condition. Major appliances, such as stoves, ovens, refrigerators and dishwashers, are tested to ensure they function properly.
- Structural and mechanical components: This category encompasses various aspects of the property’s structure and mechanical systems. Inspectors will check for issues like insulation, ventilation and proper grading around the foundation to prevent water drainage problems. They may also review the state of the home’s attic space.
It’s important to note that while home inspectors are highly trained and thorough, their examination is visual, and they do not perform invasive testing. If they suspect a hidden issue, they may refer you to a specialist or contractor.
Safety and Code Compliance
In addition to the visible aspects on the checklist, home inspections may include assessing whether the property adheres to local building codes and safety regulations. This provides assurance that the smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, chimneys, windows, doors and other safety features are in place and functioning correctly.
The professional home inspection checklist also includes an evaluation of any environmental concerns that could pose health hazards to occupants. Inspectors assess potential health risks such as:
- Radon gas: Radon is a colorless, odorless and tasteless radioactive gas that can emanate from the ground and seep into homes through cracks and openings. Prolonged exposure to radon gas is linked to lung cancer. If elevated levels are found, mitigation measures may be recommended.
- Mold: Mold can grow in damp or humid areas of a home and can cause a variety of health issues. Inspectors will look for any visible indications of mold development. They may also use moisture meters or other tools to detect hidden moisture sources that can foster mold growth.
- Asbestos: Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was once widely used in construction materials due to its fire-resistant properties. Home inspectors can identify materials suspected to contain asbestos and recommend further testing or professional remediation if required.
- Lead-based paint: Homes built before 1978 may have lead-based paint, which is hazardous, especially to young children. Inspectors check for chipping or deteriorating paint and may recommend lab testing if they suspect the presence of lead-based paint. Remediation or containment measures may be necessary for
- Carbon monoxide: Inspectors might check for the presence of carbon monoxide, a colorless and odorless gas that can be produced by gas-burning appliances. Carbon monoxide detectors are essential and subject to inspection to confirm their proper operation.
- Hazardous materials: Inspectors can identify other hazardous materials or substances, like vermiculite insulation that may contain asbestos, or underground oil tanks that could pose an environmental risk.
- Pest infestations: Termites and rodents have the potential to inflict structural damage and pose health risks. Inspectors might look for signs of infestations and recommend pest control measures.
During the home inspection process, the inspector will meticulously record their observations by making notes and capturing photographs. This information is included in a detailed home inspection report, which is typically provided to the buyer within a few days of the inspection.
After the inspection is complete, the inspector will meet with the buyer to discuss their findings. This is an opportunity for the buyer to ask questions and seek clarification on any issues discovered during the inspection.
Depending on the findings, the real estate agent may represent the buyer in using the inspection report to negotiate major repairs, request a reduction in the sale price or ask for specific items to be fixed by the seller. Typically included in the purchase agreement is a home inspection contingency so that these negotiations are possible.
Home inspections are an essential part of the home buying process, providing valuable information that allows buyers to make informed decisions and sellers to address potential issues. They promote transparency and help maintain the integrity of the real estate market.