What to Expect from Your Home Inspection

You made an offer and it was accepted. Your next task is to have the home inspected prior to closing.  Agents often recommend you make your offer contingent upon a clean home inspection.

This contingency allows you to renegotiate the price you offered for the home, ask the sellers to cover repairs, or in some cases, walk away if challenges arise. Your agent can advise you on the best course of action once the report is filed.

Personal Story

A couple of years ago I was representing a buyer on a for sale by owner listing.  The seller was trying to sell the home himself and save some money.  The market at the time had very low inventory and this particular home was in a good neighborhood and had a very good location.

After some negotiation, we entered into a contract.  The seller had given us his inspection reports from an obscure inspection company based out of the central valley of California.  

I was skeptical of the inspection because I knew the neighborhood and I noticed the floors were slopping noticeably in one particular area of the home.  In the report, there was no mention of the sloping and no mention of any issues related to the foundation.

Of course, we got our own inspection.  Our inspector discovered that the foundation wall on one side of the home was buckling, causing the sill plate to detach from the framing and this was causing the slopping.  This was a major problem and required that the portion of the foundation wall be replaced.  The total cost was $20K. 

The seller was in shock, we were in shock.  How could the previous inspector miss this? We don’t know, but we do know that the inspector only charged $199 for the report and at the time most companies were charging $400.

What to Look for in an Inspector

Your agent will most likely have a shortlist of inspectors they’ve worked within the past to recommend to you.   Here are some things to consider when hiring an inspector.

1. Qualifications – Find out what’s included in your inspection and if the age or location of your home may warrant specific certifications or specialties.

2. Sample Reports – Look at a previous inspection report from that inspector so you can review how thoroughly they will be inspecting your dream home. In most cases, the more detailed the report, the better.

3. Memberships – Not all inspectors belong to a national or state association of home inspectors, and membership in one of these groups should not be the only way to evaluate your choice. Membership in one of these organizations does, however, often mean continued training and education are required.

4. Errors and Omission Insurance – Find out what the liability of the inspector or inspection company is once the inspection is over. The inspector is only human, after all, and it is possible they might miss something they should see.

Ask your inspector if it’s okay for you to tag along during the inspection, so they can point out anything that should be addressed or fixed.  

Don’t be surprised to see your inspector climbing on the roof or crawling around in the attic and on the floors. The job of the inspector is to protect your investment and find any issues with the home, including but not limited to: the roof, plumbing, electrical components, appliances, heating and air conditioning systems, ventilation, windows, fireplace and chimney, foundation, and so much more.

Bottom Line

The home inspection industry is unregulated which means anyone can set up shop and call themselves a property inspector.  There are industry designations and trade groups and associations that exist to bring some standards into the industry but there is no obligation for an inspector to belong or follow the standards.  So be sure that the report you are reviewing from the seller is from a reputable company or inspector. Working with a professional you can trust to give you the most information possible will enable you to make the most educated decision about your purchase.

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