How Buyers Can Get the Most Out of a Home Inspection
Be present. Show up on time and be prepared to ask questions. If you have any worries about certain issues, point them out to the inspector for further discussion.
Hire someone you trust. Although your realtor may have an inspector in mind, feel free to find one on your own. After extensive research, and possibly some suggestions from family and friends, narrow down your choices to who you feel is the best fit for you.
Ask away. If something seems strange or if you’re not sure as to what your inspector is talking about, speak up and ask questions. This is YOUR potential home and you have the right to be informed as much as possible.
Take photos for proof. Many home inspectors will bring a camera with them to document any issues that are present. This is helpful when they inspect areas you typically wouldn’t, such as the roof, crawl spaces, underneath decks, in the attic, etc. Infrared and thermal cameras can give you a look into what is behind walls and flooring, and your inspector should be willing to utilize these tools.
Conduct your own inspection prior to the appointment. Walkthrough your home and check for any signs of error; check the outside as well. Test all light switches and outlets, look at walls and ceilings (make sure there aren’t signs of leaks or water damage), take a look at the electrical panel for wiring issues, check for drainage issues outside, look for peeling paint, walk around decks and porches, check out the siding, etc.
Don’t forget the roof. Ask your home inspector to go up on the roof; they will check for missing shingles, curled shingles, and water intrusion around chimneys, vents, and skylights. The attic will also show signs of water intrusion if it’s present.
Look for cosmetic issues. Pay attention to anything that looks like it’s covering up a larger issue, such as part of a floor being patched or repaired, part of a wall being freshly painted, etc.
Test your GFCI outlets. Especially in rooms where moisture is present, such as the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room. Your inspector can test the outlets in a safe manner.
Search the attic. A common inspection red flag is improper venting of bathroom fans. If your bathroom fan vents directly into your attic, it is sending moisture and humid air up into it, causing mold and rotting. Check the attic for air leaks as well, as this could be a sign of poor insulation.
Test your plumbing. Check your bathtubs and showerheads for leaks; the inspector will test your water system’s main and shutoff points.
Be informed about your furnace and water heater. In addition to making sure they’re both working properly, find out how old they are and when they last received service. Replacement can be costly, so keep that in mind when finalizing your offer. Check the furnace’s filter while you’re at it; one that’s in need of changing may hint that there’s another maintenance around the house that has been postponed or ignored.
Check the basement. Unfinished basements can provide hints to the condition of the home and its foundation. Search for cracks, water damage, signs of repairs, etc. If a crack is there, it may not be an issue; however, it is your responsibility to find out why/how it appeared.