At the height of the real estate boom just over a decade ago, the market has become so competitive that some buyers opted against a professional home inspection contingency. Without a home inspection, those buyers assumed the risk that problems with the home become theirs once they became the owners, along with the expense of making those repairs. Therefore, it is important to request a professional home inspection and to know what to look for during the inspection.
Why the Buyer Should Insist on a Home Inspection
When a buyer makes the sales contract contingent on the home passing a professional home inspection, the buyer has built in a number of options. The buyer can 1) require the seller to take care of the issue at the seller’s expense; 2) proceed with the sale anyway and accept the responsibility for the repair after title passes to the buyer; 2) ask the seller to lower the sales price to reflect the expense of repair; or 3) back out of the sale completely.
Nowadays, most lenders and home insurance companies require a professional home inspection, but not always. Buyers who opt out of a home inspection do so at their own risk.
What You Need to Look For in a Home Inspection
First, a buyer should hire an independent, licensed, professional home inspector. In Virginia, a home inspector must complete a certain amount of pre-licensing training and pass an exam. Make sure that your inspector is a licensed professional, not just someone recommended by your real estate agent. Ideally, you will accompany the home inspector during the inspection and ask questions as problems are spotted.
The purpose of the home inspection is to help the buyer identify observable problems with the house, suggest possible fixes, and prepare a written report, usually with photos, noting the inspector’s observations. Here are some of the most important features they should evaluate:
Any defects in the roof should be noted. The inspector may spot loose shingles, missing flashing, loose or missing gutters, and rotting fascia, all of which can cause leaks. Inside, water stains on the attic ceiling or stains around chimneys and skylights are signs of leaking that should be explored in more depth.
Inspectors will check if the wiring and electrical panels are in good shape and up to applicable building codes. They will test all light switches and the HVAC system to ensure it is all working properly, and they will identify any issues that should be corrected. In the kitchen, the age and condition of appliances will be noted.
An evaluation of the home’s plumbing includes an evaluation of pipes, drains, water heaters, and water pressure and temperature. The inspector will make sure bathroom and kitchen fixtures are working properly, and not leaking, and that drains are draining.
The inspection will include an evaluation of the condition of the home’s foundation. That will require the inspector to look at the exterior walls, windows, and door frames to determine if they are straight and square. If not, the inspector report will note any issues observed. If the home has a fireplace, the inspector will look at the integrity of the chimney structure and whether any soot should be cleaned out.
The inspector will look at the home’s exterior to spot any rot or decay in siding and trim, any cracking or flaking masonry or stucco, any dents or bowing in vinyl or aluminum, any signs of moisture infiltration, as well as any peeling paint. Inside, the inspector will make sure the walls are not leaning and show no water damage.
The inspection should include a report on the age and condition of any flooring. If carpets need to be replaced or wood floors need to be refinished, the inspector will note it.
In older homes, asbestos was often used as insulation. Asbestos fibers are dangerous when they become airborne. The inspection report should note if asbestos is present.
Waste Systems & Water Wells
If you are considering a home that has a septic system and its own water well, you will need to have them inspected. Your home inspector can give you basic information about conditions that are easily observable. However, septic and well systems need to have separate inspections conducted by specialists.
Water Drainage Issues
Outside, the inspector should look for evidence of current or future water issues, such as standing water, poor grading or damaged or missing gutters and downspouts. They will also look at the general health of plants in the landscaping and the condition of outdoor structures such as patios, decks, retaining walls, sheds, railings, and swimming pools.
Contact the Realtors at Katie Zarpas Group
Before you make an offer on a home, consult with the real estate professionals at the Katie Zarpas Group. They can provide you with assistance on buying a home and help make sure you understand what to look for in a home inspection.