One of the ways we insure we’re buying a home that is in good shape is by having inspections. Your purchase contract should include an “inspection contingency” which gives you a certain amount of time to schedule and conduct any inspection you deem appropriate and necessary.
There are many different types of inspections and finding a really good inspector is paramount. But more about that in another article. For now, let’s assume you have scheduled your home inspection.
What you can expect…
It is highly recommended that you arrive on time or 5-10 minutes early as the inspectors generally arrive early and start on time or early! During the inspection, they typically will give you recommendations on how to maintain your home – seasonal or longer-duration regular maintenance in addition to what may need further inspection or may need repair. It’s a terrific opportunity to learn a lot about your new home, such as where your water shut off valve is, or how to change the HVAC filter, and so much more.
Keep in mind that inspections are for major safety and system issues (such as structural, electrical, and environmental) and not to “nit-pick” items, like windows that may have broken seals.
You have hired the inspector as your expert. It is best to think of them in terms of doctors. The home inspector is like your PCP or GP. They are your first-line, go-to person that you go to for a checkup… They may refer you to specialists (like a roofer, electrician, sewer line inspector, etc) or you may want to get a second opinion. Like the best doctors, even the best inspectors may miss something or even potentially be incorrect. Even the best inspectors are human and thus not infallible. Contractors may contradict what the inspectors say (as well as each other!), which is also true with doctors.
What the inspectors say during the inspection may sound very different than what you read in the report
Sometimes when I read an inspection report afterwards I find myself wondering if I was really there!
As I mentioned earlier, this is for 2 reasons:
- The report has to capture everything that may be in need of attention;
- The inspectors are covering their butts (CYA in technical parlance) and itemizing everything that may, emphasis on the may, be a possible problem.
An example is “I see no evidence that there is knob-and-tube wiring, but this home is of the age that it may have it.”
Another example is “the water heater has exceeded its life expectancy and should be replaced.”
The last example is “the overspray on the electrical bus bar is a fire hazard.”
In the first example, it is reasonable and customary that the homeowner allows further examination via the attic, cellar, or possibly by opening outlets – and allow an electrician in for further inspection. They generally will not allow you to make holes in the walls. Just because the home “may” have an issue, doesn’t mean it exists.
In the second example, you can ask for a working water heater to be replaced, but the seller is not required to provide you with a new water heater, just one that works, regardless of its age. This frequently comes up with, you got it, water heaters, HVAC, even appliances. You should not expect the seller to replace something that is working. If the water heater is not working, that is another issue altogether. Obtaining a home warranty may give you peace of mind. You may even be able to negotiate that the seller pay for that, depending on your particular situation. Your real estate agent can help you with that.
In the last example, we’ve had many buyers and sellers hire electricians to come in and inspect the issue. Every time, the (different) electrician(s) say that the circuit breakers are fine and no hazard exists. This just happens to be one of the things that inspectors seem to pick out so don’t let it throw you.
One last thing to consider is that an older home or even a new home that is only a few years old is “not up to code.” If anything other than a brand-new home is being considered, it is very likely built to code of the day, but codes change and that means what was done properly may not be what is needed if the home is rebuilt today.
Only a brand-new home is up to today’s code
An example is a 3 year old car could not be built today exactly as it was as rules have changed. It doesn’t mean the car is broken or defective.
This inspection will be like a microcosm of the buying process: It will probably be informational, confusing, overwhelming, clarifying, scary, exciting, and very emotional – often all at the same time.
Your real estate agent or their representative should be there to take notes, be a spare set of eyes, and help capture relevant points for further discussion!
Very few home inspections reveal serious structural, environmental or systems issues that cannot be resolved with a calm attitude and guidance from your real estate professional.
So, go prepared to learn about your new home and good luck!
Feel free to reach out to us if we can help you!