What to Expect When You’re Inspecting
First of all, I am very pleased with myself for the title of this entry. Moving on…
If you’ve never done a home inspection, you may have no idea what to expect. Home inspection length depends on the size and the condition of the house/property but generally they last 2-5 hours. I attended one this past week that was about 4.5 hours. So what on Earth makes them take so long?
Any reputable inspector is going to take their time going through a whole ton of checklist items as they walk through the property. Sometimes it’s easy to forget how many individual, tiny things go into the condition of the house since we generally just see 4 walls, a roof, floor, some appliances, and a heating/cooling system. I’m not going to list everything an inspector will look at (since I am not an inspector) but a small breakdown of things you might not even know to think about, look at, or ask!
Let’s use the basement as an example. What are some things your inspector might look at?
Not the indoor spa I was hoping for
Any missing handrails or steps as you walk downstairs?
Any current wetness/dampness or stains from old water?
Any foundation cracks? (This one is an ongoing issue in Connecticut)
Any issues with any wood beams in the basement? Cracks, termites, carpenter ants, rotting?
How does the basement smell? No smell, musty, damp, foul?
If there’s an oil tank, is it in good shape? New or old? How many gallons does it hold?
If there’s gas heat, are all the pipes present?
How old is the hot water tank? Are all the pipes present? (No missing copper?) Any wetness under the tank?
How old is the furnace? Any obvious parts broken?
Do the washer and dryer work (if they’re conveying with the property). Is the dryer vent clean and venting properly?
Electrical box – any unused and uncapped wires? Any double wires were there shouldn’t be? Any bugs or droppings in the box? What voltage power is coming into your house (many are 100 or 200 amps, but it’s important to know before buying in case you plan on using electric-heavy items)
Condition of basement windows – any cracks, any way for animals to get in?
This isn’t a complete list but just a few things you may have never even thought to look for in just one space in your house. Your inspector will go through each room thoroughly, including the exterior, garages, attic, crawl spaces, etc. It’s best to attend your full inspection to understand all the possible issues with the property and ask questions as they arise. Your realtor will also be present for the inspection. Generally within 1-5 days your inspector will send you a full report.
There are a few benefits to doing an inspection – not only do you find out what could be potential issues with the house, but you’re able to return to the seller and either ask for some items to be fixed*, a price reduction, or a possible closing credit**. The seller doesn’t have to agree to anything, but often if you are working on a strong deal, sellers may often help out in some way. For my own house, the sellers didn’t want to fix anything (they were trying to move ASAP) so we came down about $5000 and they accepted our new price. A few months ago, another client of mine found about 10 issues and the seller agreed to fix 5 of them and give my buyer $2500 in closing costs to fix the issues himself. (*Most bank-owned properties and short sales are sold as-is and the seller will not fix anything. **Generally you cannot get closing credits if you’re paying in cash).
Only downsides to doing an inspection are the cost of the inspection (usually ranging from $200-1000 that you pay out of pocket) and that your offer can often look more enticing to a seller if there’s no inspection contingency (meaning your offer says you’re willing to buy the property as-is).
For owner-occupants (that is, people who plan to buy and live in the property they’re buying), I almost always recommend an inspection so there are no surprises after the closing. Investors sometimes skip the inspection because they’re going to fix up the property anyway to try to make a profit. You’re allowed to do an inspection any way you like – for a cash or conventional loan purchase, you can take a look by yourself, bring a friend or family member who’s an inspector, hire a professional inspector, bring your whole fantasy football league, whomever! It’s in your best interest to pick someone you trust who knows what they’re looking at.
your friends, I assume
If you’re looking for an inspector, here are a few you may be interested in checking out. You’re free to pick any inspector you’d like for your inspection and always check out google/yelp/other review sites or talk to friends, neighbors, and your realtor for suggestions too.