Get prepared for the official home inspection
You’re certainly not a professional inspector, but you’re definitely invested in choosing the right property to call home. It makes sense to document potential issues while you're touring a house for the first time (and maybe a second time), especially if it hits all your must-have points. Arming yourself with knowledge about the condition of the house lets you clearly communicate with your home inspector.
What to Look for During a Home Tour
After looking at dozens of houses, you have a feeling this house could be “the one.” Get ready to take notes and pictures—you won’t want to forget any questions you have when you hire a local home inspector later. Worry less about the small stuff like funky paint colors and focus on the big-ticket items you need help understanding.
Keep an Eye Out for Problems Inside
Don’t get distracted by the gorgeous herringbone pattern wood floors. Ok, ooh and ahh for a few moments, but then keep an out for potential problems and updates needed throughout the house. In particular, look for these problems:
Concerns About Major Appliances
Condition and age
Convey with the property
Outdated electrical panel and wiring
Missing electrical code requirements
Evidence of mold
Mold and mildew
Pets and allergies
Age and installation dates
Plumbing System Status
Water heater’s age and condition
Water pressure in bathrooms
Under the sink leaks
Look for Problems Outside
Fabulous curb appeal could hide problems from your untrained eye while you’re admiring the garden beds full of hydrangeas. You don’t have to crawl around the foundation, but keep your eyes open for issues you’d like to know more about.
Gutters and Siding’s Appearance
Intact and attached
Water moves away from the house
Holes and cracks
State of the Roof
Dark stains and moss
Date of the last replacement
Foundation Integrity Concerns
Big and small cracks
Damp, sinking ground
Functional Windows and Doors
Open and close properly
Warping from foundation shifts
Moisture on frames and in between panes
Review the Seller Disclosure Before Inspection Day
The seller disclosure is another source of information to share with your inspector. It’s a list the seller must reveal before the deal closes. If anything, in particular bothers you, share it with your inspector to take a look.
Talk to your real estate agent about your state’s laws regarding the disclosure because they vary in detail from an in-depth report to a series of yes and no questions. Some states require the disclosure before the offer, but most are after. Depending on the state, the seller can highlight the issue but doesn't necessarily have to fix the problem, leaving both parties to hash out a home inspection contingency and final selling price.
Finding a Home Inspector
After you’ve done your casual inspection of the house and documented your concerns, it's time to hire a home inspector; ideally, one your real estate agent trusts. Most of the time, they’ll have relationships with multiple inspectors, so you can interview a couple to find a good fit.
When you’re chatting, ask about their fees, what a typical home inspection looks like, and how long it takes. If you’re thinking about buying a historic home or a property with major renovations ahead, the inspector might also refer you to a structural engineer for a home inspection. Or an electrical inspector who specializes in out-of-the-norm home inspections.
Home Inspection Day and Reading the Final Report
Inspection day is a great chance to learn about the house you're about to buy and find out what the home inspection will cover. You’ll have an expert on hand for professional advice and to answer any questions. And, when you get the written report, you’ll have some background information to work with. Here’s a tip: Don’t get overwhelmed with all of the scary-sounding issues that pile up. You’re paying the inspector to find every defect, even the tiny ones.
Most inspectors take the time to review their findings with you and point out the issues that need a repair now, which features could use an upgrade soon, and the problems that might appear in the near future. By the time the review is over, you should have all of your pre and post-home inspection questions answered.