Attending the home inspection is one of the most important parts of buying a new home. Why? A home purchase is a huge financial investment — at any price point — that comes with long-term repercussions; you want to make sure the home you’re buying is in good shape.
Some buyers ask, “If the home looked fine at our viewing and the seller hasn’t disclosed any major issues, can’t we save the money we’d spend on the inspection(s) to put it toward something else?” Our answer: sure, you could…but should you?
We don’t want to assume that any seller would intentionally mislead a buyer, but we also don’t want to take their word for the condition of their home, inside and out. Not every seller is the most responsible homeowner; you owe it to yourself to make sure your home is safe, sound, and in acceptable condition before moving forward with your purchase. That’s what your Due Diligence Period is designed for.
Because of the importance of the inspection process, we feel strongly that buyers should always be present for their home inspection(s) — at the very least, for the general home inspection, which is the most in-depth of the inspections. For more on the other types of inspections that you may want to consider, click here.
Yes, you’ll get a written report after the inspection, but it doesn’t give you nearly as clear of a picture of the condition of the house as being there to see any problems for yourself and ask the inspector any follow-up questions that you may have. Plus, unless you’re extremely knowledgeable about home construction, it’s difficult to understand which items in the inspection report are a big problem or defect and which are really only minor issues. Instead, it’s easy to get worked up about ungrounded outlets, but not realize that the water seepage in the basement is a much bigger and more extensive problem to fix.
Here is our list of tips for attending the home inspection:
- Inspections of condos take approximately 2 hours and single family home/multi-unit buildings generally take about 3 to 4 hours. Plan to be there the entire time.
- Wear comfortable clothes and shoes that can get dirty as the inspector may ask you to crawl in the basement or crawl space or get up on the attic to see any problems.
- The inspector isn’t psychic. He can only see obvious defects and cannot see what is going on inside the walls with plumbing, electrical, etc. Therefore, having a clean inspection report doesn’t mean you won’t ever have a problem with a home. It just means what can be seen seems to be in good shape. To this point, please be sure to read the inspection company’s policy and disclaimer prior to the inspection so that you can fully understand the scope of the inspection and any liability the inspector may have if, in fact, he does miss something important.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions of the inspector, especially if you don’t understand what he is explaining to you. It’s crucial you understand each issue and whether it’s a minor issue or an expensive repair.
- Bring a tape measure with you to take any needed room measurements. Though the contract allows for scheduled visits, we may not be able to get back into the home too many times. In addition, if you want family/friends to see the home, it’s best to bring them to the inspection as well.
- Feel free to bring friends and family with you, especially if you want their input on inspection items, furniture placement, or decorating as we may not be able to get into the property again.
- If you are planning on having any work done to the home, it’s best to arrange for contractors, painters, floor refinishers, etc. to come by sometime during the inspection to give you estimates as we may not be able to get into the home again until the final walk-through. If you need referrals for service providers, please let me know.
- Be sure to have made payment via the link the inspection company emailed to you prior to the inspection. Most inspectors won’t begin the inspection (at the very least, they will withhold the report) until they can confirm that payment has been received. In most cases, inspectors will not accept a check.
- Inspection reports are generally emailed to you within 24 hours after the inspection. As soon as you get the inspection report, be sure to email it to me so we can look it over. We will review it and send you our thoughts in a detailed email, as well as schedule a time to discuss the inspector’s findings and any items we want to ask the seller to fix or give a closing cost credit for you to repair after closing.
- Remember that the point of the inspection is to:
— Discover safety issues
— See if there are any structural issues
— Discover any needed repairs to the working components. For instance we want to make sure that all of the appliances are working, that the furnace and AC units are working, etc.
— We are NOT there to nit-pick because we don’t like the paint colors, or because there is a dent in the fridge door or a scratch in the hardwood floors, etc. Unless you are buying new construction, no home is going to be perfect, and cosmetic defects that we can see with the naked eye are things that we should have taken into consideration in the initial offer process. If you want a perfect home, buy new construction. If you aren’t buying new construction, then we need to accept the house with its cosmetic flaws or find a new house. Remember, we are mainly concerned with safety issues, defects, and things not working.
IMPORTANT: Before the inspection, download, print, and bring this checklist with you. While the inspector is conducting the inspection, your job is to check off each item on the list. The contract calls for the home to be presented at closing in the same or better condition than when you first saw it. In addition, you’ll likely want to measure for furniture placement. Lastly, we recommend photographing every room and closet in the property — this way, we can verify at the final walk-through that nothing that was supposed to stay with the home was removed or replaced by the seller or their movers (i.e., light fixtures, closet organizers, appliances, etc.) and also because you’ll want to refer to these photos later when planning where to put furniture, whether to update paint colors or to add shelving in closets, etc.
Have questions about your upcoming inspection? Call or text us at 404-9942181 or email at Maura(at)BuySellLiveAtlanta(dot)com.