Home Buying a Home The Ultimate Home Inspection Checklist

The Ultimate Home Inspection Checklist

by Kimberly Fischer
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Table of Contents
  • What is a home inspection?
  • What happens during a home inspection?
  • Different types of home inspections
  • What a home inspector won’t do
  • How much does a home inspection cost?
  • When should you hire a home inspector??
  • How do you find a home inspector?
  • Should you be there for the home inspection?
  • Using a home inspection report

You’ve finally put an offer down on your dream home, and it was accepted! Now you’re in escrow, and waiting for inspection day.  This can be a nerve-wracking time for both buyers and sellers as contracts are signed and agents tie up loose ends. 

Your prospective home may look beautiful and shiny to the untrained eye, however, it’s important to know as a first-time homebuyer that looks can be deceiving. A fresh lick of paint and new countertops can mask bigger problems beneath the surface, such as cracks in the foundation, leaky plumbing, dangerous wiring, mold, or other defects that could potentially be a major cause for concern. 

That is why it is so important that as a buyer, you have a home inspection performed by a reputable professional before you close on a house. Because the inspection process can be stressful, we’ve created the ultimate home inspection guide to ease your fears and take the guesswork out of what to expect during the home inspection process. So, let’s dive in. Here’s what you need to know about your home inspection.   

What is a Home Inspection? 

A home inspection is an opportunity for a buyer to hire an expert to walk through the home and provide a full status report of its major components, their current condition, and what needs immediate attention and what will require maintenance after you move in. This provides both buyer and seller a chance to renegotiate or even walk away from the transaction if necessary.

Although inspections are recommended, they are usually not a requirement unless it’s a condition of your mortgage. A thorough home inspection can save you a lot of future headaches, and while it may sound scary, a home inspection is actually one of the best safeguards put in place for homebuyers. 

What Happens During a Home Inspection?

A home inspector will typically conduct a visual inspection of all parts of the property that are accessible. Parts of the home commonly included in a home inspection are:

Exterior

  • Roofing
  • Water diverting systems
  • Grading
  • Windows, doors, and trim
  • Window wells
  • Brickwork and/or siding
  • Steps, stairs, and railings
  • Decks, porches, and balconies

Interior

  • Floors
  • Ceilings
  • Walls
  • Light switches and outlets
  • Electrical panel
  • Heating and Air Conditioning (HVAC)
  • Plumbing
  • Attic
  • Basement

Not every inspector will cover the same components of the home. Make a list of things you’d like them to have a look at beforehand. Your inspector will let you know if it’s not an area they deal with or if they charge an additional fee for the extra work.

Different Types of Home Inspections

A standard home inspection provides you with a detailed report on the home you’re hoping to buy, but it doesn’t tell you everything. That leaves out anything that’s not easily viewed, like some types of pest infestation, as well as any areas that are hard to safely reach (think wells and chimney interiors).

Depending on the age, location, and condition of the home you’re considering, you may need additional inspections. Radon testing, termite inspection, mold inspection and foundation inspection are among the most common of these specialized types of home inspections.

What a Home Inspector Won’t Do

Be aware that even the best home inspector can miss things that are concealed. Since inspectors aren’t permitted to do things like opening up a wall or peeling up floorboards, it’s difficult to know what may be hiding out of sight. There’s no foolproof way to know what’s going on inside the walls and floors, short of tearing things apart. However, inspectors are trained to spot visual indicators, sounds, and smells that may point to a problem.

Still, there are ways to avoid paying out if your inspector makes avoidable mistakes. Check the contract, or consider consulting with a legal expert if you feel the errors are negligent.

How Much Does a Home Inspection Cost?

According to HomeAdvisor, the average home inspection can cost between $279 and $500, with the national average falling around $330. However, it can fluctuate based on the inspector you hire, the size, type, and age of the house, and the amount of work that needs to be done.

When Should You Hire a Home Inspector?

The ideal time to have a home inspected is after you make a successful offer but before you close the sale. However, there are circumstances where you might want to order an inspection prior to making an offer. The seller must agree to a pre-offer inspection, and this is usually a sign that they’re highly motivated to sell. On the other hand, negotiating an as-is offer on a home is best saved for the savvy negotiator, someone who has at least an idea of what work needs to be done. If you are a first-time homebuyer, you might be better off making an offer and then following it up with an inspection.

How Do You Find a Home Inspector?

When it comes to buying a house, you want to know that you’re making the right decision, and a good inspector will help you do just that. But how do you know which inspector is best? 

The right person for the job will be licensed in the trade, with experience under their belt, and lots of good reviews to their name. REX partner, Inspectify, is an online marketplace for quickly finding and booking home inspectors. Within minutes, you can compare 3-5 quotes from top rated inspectors in your area. They are also the only platform that provides free repair cost estimates on every issue found on your inspection report, making negotiations easier and more streamlined.

Do your research and do lots of it. Consider asking the inspector for a sample inspection report so you can see what they include and evaluate their comments. Read online reviews and check with friends, family, or even your real estate agent.

Choose an inspector early in your home-buying process so you can schedule your inspection as soon as a seller accepts your offer. Good inspectors can be in high demand, especially in the springtime when more homes are sold.

Should You Be There for the Inspection?

While not a requirement, being present during your home inspection has a few benefits. It will help give you an idea of the kind of repairs you’re looking at, and you’ll be able to see how thoroughly your inspector does their job. Another plus, watching your inspector can teach you some essential tips and tricks about how to identify problems with your house later down the road. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Just remember to be respectful of their time. An inspection typically takes a few hours.

What to Do with a Home Inspection Report

Request that your home inspector sends you a copy of their report when they’ve finished the job, and make sure you read it thoroughly.

With your inspection report in hand, you can better determine the condition of house and what repairs you might want to negotiate with the seller. It’s almost inevitable that there will be a few things here and there that need fixing – unless the house is brand new and in perfect condition. Just be reasonable about what you ask for – and know what’s a deal breaker and what isn’t. Emphasize the big repairs and be prepared to take care of the little things yourself. If the home needs significant repairs, you can decide whether you want to back out of your offer, or you can negotiate with the seller. They may have to settle the repairs as a condition of the sale, or they might offer you a sum of money upon closing the deal so you can do the repairs yourself. There are some occasions, especially in hot markets, where sellers only accept non-contingent offers, meaning the buyer agrees to buy without any inspections. However, take care to weigh the potentially costly risk of buying a home that might have undisclosed issues lurking beneath the floorboards. 

Now that you know the potential issues and repairs that need to be addressed, you can make your decision on whether to move forward. Be practical when it comes to the amount of work that needs to be done on the house and don’t let your emotional attachment to the home overwhelm your judgment. Whether you decide to purchase the house or move on to the next one, you’re armed with information and prepared for whatever comes next in your home-buying adventure.

Are you ready to buy a home? Reach out to REX today and discover a different way to do it.

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