8 Essential Home Inspection Tips for Home Buyers

Posted May 18th, 2012
by Isabell Davila (no comments)

The home inspection is one of the most important steps before buying a home. For home buyers, it may be grounds for negotiating price offers, renovations, or necessary fixes. As a fairly comprehensive diagnostic test on the condition of your future home, it is designed to educate both buyers and sellers about deficiencies and problems that should be taken care of to prevent long-term damage. Some issues require immediate attention, and others may be grounds for negotiating fixes prior to moving in. Here are some essential tips on what to pay particular attention to when getting a home inspection.

  1. Attend the inspection

    It is to your advantage to attend the home inspection for your potential new home. Professional inspectors always encourage clients to go to their inspection and accompany them throughout the process in order to see first-hand what is going on. Inspectors will point out problem-areas and arm you with valuable, detailed information regarding the home you may be purchasing. Not being present during an inspection may make it harder to understand the home inspection report, which puts you at a disadvantage when negotiating terms with the seller.

  2. Look for foundation movement

    A common and major problem found in home inspections are signs of foundational movement. Grade sloping or erosion may contribute to cracks in the foundation, which could lead to expensive problems in the future. The inspector will look out for these signs, but it doesn’t hurt to be also be on the lookout for misaligned windows and doors, hairline cracks on the walls or foundation, and uneven gaps on the floor. Don’t hesitate to move furniture and rugs to get a closer look.

  3. Check all electrical systems

    Older homes are notorious for ill-equipped electrical systems. For example, bathrooms may not be wired sufficiently for modern gadgets and are prone to overheating. Be sure all electrical outlets have enough load to support TVs, computers, and other large electrical items. The heating and cooling system also must be top shape; if the system is outdated, consider replacements for an energy efficient model. Also, be on the watch for any exposed wires, which should be corrected by a licensed electrician.

  4. Expect the worst, but assess deal-breakers

    Before an inspection, you should make a mental note of certain deal-breakers the inspection may find. Major fixes can be potentially a major financial blow, so research major red flags and assess your willingness to deal with these issues. Things like mold, termites, cracked foundations, and wiring issues can be quite problematic and hazardous to your health. Knowing what you’re willing to fix and not fix will help you make a more educated decision when faced with inspection results.

  5. Inspect the inspector

    Not all states require home inspectors to be licensed or adhere to a certain standard. There is also no comprehensive background or certification that fully trains an individual for all the conditions that may exist in a home. Even in areas where licensing exists, some programs fall short. It is your responsibility to make sure the home inspector is formally trained or certified to perform a thorough home inspection. This may be done by confirming that the inspector is backed by the National Institute of Building Inspectors (NIBI) or other formal organizations like the National Association of Certified Home Inspectors (NACHI), which insures their knowledge of inspection and the home buying process. It also helps to ask for a reference from your realtor or other people you know.

  6. Insist on detailed descriptions in the inspection report

    The inspection report should provide comprehensive and detailed descriptions for each item inspected. Words like “good,” “fair,” or “poor” without an accompanying explanation can be interpreted in many ways. If your inspection report is filled with vague words and no succinct description or recommendation for repairs, ask the inspector to elaborate with a more descriptive report. Take time to make sure you understand the conditions of each item and ask questions.

  7. Make sure utilities are on in vacant homes

    Prior to your inspection appointment, make sure with the seller that utilities will be turned on to avoid rescheduling another inspection. While vacant properties may be easier to inspect (visually) than an occupied one, there are some major disadvantages. If homes have been vacant for a long time, it may have caused accelerated deterioration of mechanical systems due to bearing and seal damage. There also may be some loopholes in the inspection like undetected leaks and water stains that are not visible due to lack of normal water usage.

  8. Compare home inspection checklists

    All home inspections can be drastically different and vary from state to state, as well as from accredited associations, counties, and cities. Compare the guidelines of reputable organizations and see which checklist suits your potential home best. There are some inspections that do not include asbestos, radon, rodents, lead, or mold, so be aware of what your inspection includes before hiring an inspector.

Categories: Advice

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