Buying a home is not that easy especially if it’s your first time to do so. Whether it’s your first time to buy a home or you are planning to look around for a new home, it’s important to do a home inspection. A home inspection will make sure that you know what you are getting into when it comes to the condition of the home that you are planning to buy. You get to look at the condition of the different parts of the house. You will also have an idea which parts are working fine and which parts are in need of repair. Through the home inspection, you will be able to gauge whether it is worth it to buy the home or you need to reconsider your decision.
Looking for a Home Inspector
There are a lot of home inspection companies that offer home inspection services. You need to hire a qualified professional, licensed, trained, and experienced inspector to do the home inspection. Ask for recommendations from friends, check online reviews, and scrutinize the company website. You can also type keywords on search engines by putting your location and adding ‘home inspector' or ‘home inspection’. For example, “Maryland home inspector” or “home inspection Maryland”. In some states in the US, home inspectors are required to be licensed and in order to be licensed, they need to pass a test, meet a training requirement, or meet an educational requirement. In other states just like Maryland, home inspectors are part of an organization called Maryland Association of Home Inspectors. There are also other organizations of home inspectors in the US.
Factors to Consider when choosing a Home Inspection Company
Hiring a home inspector is vital when buying a house or a property. Therefore, it’s important to hire a home inspector that is reliable and has a good reputation to make sure that your investment will be worth it and you won’t encounter any problems after doing the home inspection.
Here are the factors to consider when choosing a home inspection company:
• License or Professional Certification
As mentioned earlier, some states or countries require a license or a professional certification before home inspectors can start operating. If you live in those states or countries that require a license or professional certification, then you need to ask the inspection company to show you proof that they are licensed to operate or that they have professional certification. For states that don’t require this, you can always check if they are members of the big organizations of home inspectors and check for their credibility.
Ask the home inspection company whether its home inspectors have done extensive training on home inspection. In case the home inspectors don’t hold a relevant degree, it’s important that they have undergone training to have knowledge and skills on home inspection.
It’s recommended to choose a home inspection company that has already done a lot of home inspections in the past or is constantly doing home inspections each year. A home inspector with several years of experience is ideal to work with since he or she already knows a lot about home inspection.
It’s also ideal to hire a home inspector with a relevant degree such as engineering or architecture since they know a lot about the details of a house. They provide great assessments of a house.
Check the reputation of the company before dealing with them. Check for online reviews and also ask around your area. Also request the company to provide you with trained and experienced inspectors to do your home inspection.
• Cost of Inspection
Before hiring the services of a home inspection company, ask for an estimated cost. You can compare the cost with other companies.
Gathering Information about the Home
It’s important to gather important details about the home before meeting the home inspector. The information may include the year that the house was built, the area or size of the house, copies of previous home inspections done, seller’s disclosure statement, and other information that might be important for the inspection.
Home Inspection Checklist
Before touring the house, you need to list down the specific areas of the house that need to be examined closely by the home inspector. You need to check the common issues or problems that home inspectors find in houses. You can use this checklist to help you figure out what to look for during the home inspection and also in the final report from the home inspector. This checklist will help you have a more systematic approach in the home inspection process. There are a lot of items and places to inspect in a house so it will be more efficient if the home inspector would write down notes on the checklist while going around the house.
These are the areas or sections of the house that need to be checked:
• Foundation/Crawl Space
Is the foundation secure? Are there obvious cracks or apparent shifts on the base of the walls or the ceilings? Are there trees near the foundation?
Does the drainage slope away from the house? Are there soggy areas? Are the driveway and walkways in good condition?
Check the landscaping, drainage, elevation, fences, driveway, and sidewalks.
What is the overall condition of the roof? When was the last time the roof was replaced? When will the roof need to be replaced? How many layers are on the roof? What is the average life expectancy of a roof? Are there shingles missing? Are there signs of leaks? Is there trim and flashing installed?
Check for the roof’s framing, type of construction, ventilation, gutters, and flashing.
Does it look like the house needs repainting or repairs soon? Are there dangling wires or loose boards? Is the exterior covered in siding? If it is, what is under it? Are the downspouts and gutters firmly attached? Is there asbestos in the exterior material?
Are there any signs of leaks on the windows and the ceilings?
Are there signs of leaks in the attic? How does the interior of the roof structure look?
Is there enough insulation in the basement? Is there dampness? Are there molds or mildew?
Are there malfunctions or unusual noises? Are there potential cracks in the sewer line? Do the faucets have enough pressure? Are there any signs of water damage or leaks? Are there problems with the drainage?
Check the plumbing in the toilet, sinks, showers, traps, and faucets. Identify the materials used for waste, drain, potable, and vent pipes and also check their condition.
Do the switches work? Is the electrical panel on a recall list? Have the outlets been properly grounded? Is the panel updated and is it also expandable? Are there no visible cords hanging from light fixtures?
Inspect the main panel, types of wiring, circuit breakers, grounding, receptacles, light fixtures, exhaust fans, and ceiling fans.
• Heating/Cooling System
Is the heating or cooling working properly? If the HVAC system has been converted, are the old tanks or systems still in place? How old is the furnace?
If appliances such as the range, stove, oven, dishwasher, garbage disposals, built-in microwaves, washers, dryers, refrigerator, and smoke detectors are included, ask for the age and condition of each appliance.
Does the home smell? Can you determine what the smell is and whether it could be fixed?
• Garage Door
Inspection of garage doors are often neglected. Homeowners don’t realize that it’s important to have an annual tuneup or at least a regular maintenance in order to prevent having the garage doors repaired.
Home inspectors inspect garages for garage door openers, firewall, entry, ceiling, walls, slab, vents, receptacles, roof, windows, lights, and exterior. For a more detailed garage door inspection, it is recommended to hire the services of a garage door inspector rather than rely on the report of the home inspector. A home inspector would probably only check the exterior of the garage door and check if it’s functioning properly but in fact, there are more parts of a garage door that need to be checked for thorough inspection. These are the following parts that need to be checked in a garage door for a garage door inspection:
1. Door Balance: The springs should be fully functional. 2. Springs: The springs should be inspected for any sign of deterioration or rust. Each spring should have an adequate measure. 3. Wires: Check if there are signs of cracking or wear and tear in the wire coating. 4. Cables: Check if the cables are kinking and fraying which may lead to damage. 5. Rollers: Check each roller for signs of damage or wear and tear in the cables. 6. Center Brackets: Check the center brackets and look for signs of bending or other issues or anomalies. 7. Center Bearings: Check for signs of wear and tear of the center bearings or check if they are already burned out. 8. Drums: See if there are cracking or unusual defects in the drums. 9. Hinges: Hinges are checked for excessive wear and damage. 10. Spring Bar: Check for bending and rust on the spring bar. 11. End Bearing Plates: Make sure that the end bearing plates don’t have faults. 12. Top Brackets: The top brackets should be meticulously inspected for damage. 13. Bottom Brackets: The bottom brackets are checked for breakage, damage, and wear. 14. Weather Seals: Check the weather seals for any signs of damage and dry rot. 15. Limits: Test the limits of the garage door to make sure that it opens and closes properly. 16. Horizontal Track: Check for bending or damage on the horizontal track. 17. Vertical Tracks: Make sure that the vertical tracks are not bent or damaged. 18. Strut: Struts are added support for the structure of the garage door. Check if the garage door may need additional struts for support. 19. Jamb Brackets: Check the positioning of the jamb brackets and check for damage or bending. 20. Opening and Closing Force: Test the force limits of the garage door to make sure that there is proper amount of force being applied to the garage door while opening and closing it. 21.Opener Controls: Check if the opener controls are functioning efficiently. 22. Opener Carriage/Trolley: Inspect the opener carriage/trolley for grinding and damage in the screw driver openers. 23. Section (interior/exterior): Check the section for tearing or dents in the metal and also check for other possible damages. 24. Motor Gears: The belt and chain of the motor gears are usually tested to check if they have proper tensions and to also look for signs of deterioration since the motor gears tend to wear and tear easily. 25. Safety Eyes: Check if the safety eyes are working efficiently.
Day of Inspection
Although it’s the job of the home inspector to do the home inspection, it is necessary for you to be there during the home inspection. Bring a pen and paper so that you can also write down notes aside from the notes written by the home inspector. There is a big possibility that the agent of the homeowner will be there to walk you through and answer questions that the home inspector might be asking. You will have a tour around the house and see each detail and you will also learn about the condition of the house that you are planning to buy. A good home inspector would walk you through the condition of the house and will also give you some tips and advice on how to maintain your future home.
The inspection can take time and you wouldn’t want to rush it. A typical home inspection can last from 1.5 to 3 hours depending on the size and the condition of the house. Follow the home inspector wherever he is going except for the crawlspace. One of the responsibilities of the home inspector is to explain to you about the home’s systems and also to give you advice on proper maintenance. The inspector will come up with a final report and will include pictures. Although the home inspector will write every detail that they observe or see in the final report, it would still be more helpful if you are there to see the actual condition of the house.
Aside from a home inspector, you might also hire additional services such as garage door inspection, pest inspection, radon testing, asbestos testing, lead paint testing, etc. A home inspector will only be able to identify the common issues in your house but if you want to be more specific or detailed in your inspection, it’s best to look for experts in these areas. Be sure to coordinate the additional inspections that you want with the home inspector so that the inspection can be scheduled accordingly. The additional inspections must be requested in advance.
After finishing the home inspection, the inspector will hand out the final report which lists down all the potential problems including pictures.
The most common problems identified by home inspectors are faulty plumbing, faulty wiring, poor drainage, flaws in the foundation, poor maintenance, and bad gutters. Note that all houses have flaws and it’s just a matter of considering how much it will cost you to do the repairs before deciding if you will purchase the property, negotiate the price, or walk away.