Be aware of details that won’t be in your written report
Once you have an accepted an offer, in most cases you have a conditional or ‘subject to’ period to do your due diligence. The main things are typically getting your financing together and doing an inspection. (make sure you get your financing prior to getting a home inspection)
Any qualified home inspector can identify underlying issues with the major systems in a home, including roofing, foundation, electrical, plumbing, heating and air conditioning systems.
So what should you know about your home inspection?
There are certain things an inspector can do and some they can’t. A home inspection is primarily a visual examination of the property’s systems. A home inspector can’t knock out the walls to see what’s behind them or do other destructive testing. Typically, they will not move furniture or storage boxes in order to view or access part of the home. Inspections also don’t address cosmetic or aesthetic features of the property.
While the home inspection might identify cracked foundations, drainage issues or a leaky roof, it’s up to you and your realtor to spot cosmetic repairs like chipped countertops, peeling paint and other superficial issues.
Additions may be if you want an inspector to look at a swimming pool, fireplace or outbuildings, it’s often available as an add-on service.
The question is: should you be present during the inspection? Attending one certainly isn’t mandatory, but if you want to get the most out of your inspection, I strongly recommend it. A typical inspection takes two to three hours — and it’s time well spent. The inspector will be able to point out details as the two of you move around the property and examine its various parts.
In my experience they are reasonably knowledgeable on things to repair, approximate costs and where to get materials…especially if the property is being purchased for a rental. You’ll also be able to ask follow-up questions about how serious an issue is or what kind of repairs or ‘fail time’ on major items like roofs and furnaces.
After the inspection, you will receive a report that evaluates the condition of the property, including existing defects and potential problems that could crop up later on. Too often, investors don’t take the time to read the home inspection report in full. Buying a property is a major commitment and reading the report will increase your understanding. Be sure to hang onto it, too, because it can serve as a useful reference if you still own the property a few years down the road.
Once you have done the home inspection, it’s now time to make a decision about whether to proceed. This is where the expertise of a realtor (if you are using one) is key. You or the realtor can negotiate with the sellers to resolve issues uncovered in the inspection. For minor issues, the sellers may promise to fix the issue before you move in. For more serious issues, they may agree to reduce the selling price or provide an abatement to compensate for the cost of repairs once the deal closes.