You’ve found a great home and made an offer that was accepted! It’s an exciting time – but wait! Don’t pass up the home inspection! Even a house that looks great cosmetically and has no apparent major flaws may be hiding secrets that you will want to know before you own them.
What does the home inspector look for? Claude McGavic, executive director of the National Association of Home Inspectors, which trains and certifies home inspectors all across the country, says,”We’ve got 1,600 different items on our list that home inspectors are supposed to look at.” Assuming you have a home inspection contingency in your offer, your Realtor® can renegotiate with the seller to correct certain problems or to lower the price accordingly. If the problem is serious (such as a crumbling foundation or unsafe roof), you may be able to retain your deposit and walk away. Either way, the home inspector’s report may save you considerable money or at least remove the element of surprise associated with your new home’s potential problems.
Though not a complete list of 1,600 items, here are some of the major potential problems for which a home inspector checks:
GROUNDS: Is there evidence of current or future water issues, such as faulty grading or downspouts and standing puddles? Are landscape shrubs and trees, pathways, sheds, retaining walls, and railings in good condition.
STRUCTURE: Is the house foundation solid; are the sides straight; are windows and door frames square? These are important if the home is older.
ROOF: Are there defects in flashing, fascia, or shingles? Those problems can cause ceiling drips, loose gutters, and defects in skylights or chimneys.
EXTERIOR: Does the inspector see siding cracks, decay, rot, flaking masonry, stucco cracks, dents or bowing in vinyl, flaking or blistering paint, or inadequate clearance between wood siding and earth (a minimum of six inches to avoid moisture damage)?
WINDOWS, DOORS, TRIM: Are all frames secure and free of rot? Is caulking solid and secure? Is glass undamaged? These are important considerations for efficient use of heating and cooling.
INTERIOR ROOMS: The inspector will look for leaning walls that may mean faulty framing, stained ceilings that could indicate water issues, insufficient heating vents, and evidence of adequate insulation.
KITCHEN: Kitchen items include making sure that range hood fans vent to the outside, that ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protection exists for all electrical outlets within six feet of the sink, that no leaks are found under the sink, and that cabinet doors and drawers operate properly.
BATHROOMS: The inspector will make sure that toilets flush, drains drain, showers spray, and tubs hold water.
PLUMBING: The inspector will check pipes, drains, water heaters, and water pressure and temperature.
ELECTRICAL: Are visible wiring and electrical panels in good shape? Do light switches all work correctly? Are there enough outlets in every room?
Before the home inspector begins, discuss any concerns that you may have so he can be sure to evaluate those. Also, let him know if the seller has disclosed any damage or problems that should be checked. If possible, be present for the inspection. It’s important to understand your new home’s systems and potential problems. This is an opportunity for you to become familiar with the electrical panel and shut-off water valves. If the inspector finds a problem, he can show you and explain what’s wrong and how it should be fixed.