Why Get a Home Inspection
Getting a home inspection is an important (yet stressful) step when buying a home. And it's understandable. You want to make a smart investment and not end up stuck with a money pit. This is your chance to have a professional assess the condition of the property before you sign on the dotted line.
On the flip side, if you're planning to sell, proactively getting a home inspection can help your listing stand out once it hits the market. You can address any issues and make repairs before selling, provide potential buyers with a clean bill of home health, and avoid unwanted surprises down the line.
What’s Included in a Home Inspection Report
A true pro will take their time to thoroughly inspect a home from top to bottom. Depending on the square footage, it could take 2-4 hours to check everything out. You’ll want to be there during the inspection so you can ask questions (they won’t mind) and get to know your new home.
According to the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), the home inspector will assess:
- Walls, Floors & Ceilings
- Roof System
- Fireplace & Chimney
- HVAC System
- Windows & Doors
- Exterior Siding & Paint
- Driveway & Walkway
- Deck or Patio
- Stairs & Railings
- Crawl Space
- Ventilation & Insulation
There are limitations, however. While they’ll check that a fireplace damper opens and closes and shine a flashlight up the chimney to make sure nothing is stuck in there, they don’t investigate every single brick. Inspectors may not move heavy furniture, climb a steep roof covered in snow, or shimmy into a dangerously tight crawl space.
In addition, you’ll need to bring in a separate inspector or professional to evaluate a swimming pool or septic system, as well as check for mold, radon, asbestos, or a pest infestation. If these are concerns, talk to your real estate agent. They can connect you with local pros who will provide all the inspections you need to feel confident in moving forward.
As a seller, you can help by providing keys to areas that an inspector might need to access. Clear a path to and tidy up around your furnace and water heater. Reconnect utilities if you’ve moved out and had them shut off. The easier it is, the more thorough the inspection. Plus, your buyer won’t suspect shenanigans.
Next Steps Once You Receive the Inspection Report
No home is in perfect shape, and you may get a giant report filled with pages and pages of your inspector’s findings. First, take a deep breath then read through the summary page. This is where any major concerns will be highlighted and recommended repairs noted. It will then refer you to pages within the report where you can find more details and view any photos that were taken.
Here are the possible red flags you might come across on the summary pages:
- Signs of water damage
- Foundation problems
- Plumbing & water issues
- Wiring & electrical issues
- Roof defects
- Visible mold
- Visible termite damage
- HVAC appliance troubles
If there’s nothing showstopping, you’ll still want to read the report. Typically, minor issues such as loose doorknobs or the need for gutter maintenance will be noted. While these might not be deal-breakers, addressing general repairs and restoring proper upkeep can get spendy.
And again, talk with your real estate agent. As your advocate, they can potentially go back to the seller and negotiate getting repairs done before you move in or lowering the price so you’ll have money to handle issues after closing. You can also just walk away and get your earnest money back if you're within the inspection contingency deadline.
Whether you’re in the process of buying or selling, a professional home inspection is a great idea. It will help you better understand what’s going on with the property and allow you to address any issues affecting the home's value, as well as ensure the safety of everyone living under its roof.