Home inspector checklist

Household 4 min read

While you might like granite countertops and freshly painted walls, there may be structural or dangerous issues hidden beneath the surface of your dream home. Completing a home inspection can help you identify potential defects that need to receive attention before you complete the purchase of the home. A home inspection gives you, the homebuyer, the opportunity to outline the home’s current condition, potential issues, and maintenance requirements once you purchase your new home.

A home inspection report provides buyers with a comprehensive understanding of the repairs needed and how the home has been maintained. It also gives buyers the opportunity to prioritize repairs and determine if their budget can support the required up-keep of the home.  Following a home inspector checklist is vital to getting the most value out of your inspector’s report.

Find home inspectors

It’s important to find a home inspector that has experience, completed training, and maintains the appropriate certification or license required by the state. The American Society of Home Inspectors provides a list of state requirements, as well as referrals. Alternative referral sites include Angie’s List, Yelp, and Google. Each site may provide a list of home inspectors with reviews to verify their customers’ satisfaction. This is a great place to start your search for home inspectors in your area.

If you’re working with a real estate agent, they should be able to provide a list of home inspectors they worked with in the past. You should also ask your friends, family, and coworkers for referrals. They may have recommendations if they recently purchased a home or liked their previous inspector.

Once you gather a list of reputable home inspectors, ask them for references. Contact the references to verify if each customer was happy with the service and responsiveness of the home inspector.

It’s important to start looking for a home inspector early in the home buying process. If you find a home, you’ll want the ability to schedule an appointment as soon as possible. Some home inspectors are in high demand, making it more difficult to make an appointment on the spot. Therefore, preparing in advance can streamline the inspection process.

Vet home inspectors

Before you hire a home inspector, ask to review one of their inspection reports. This gives you a good idea of what you can expect from their visit. Some home inspectors follow the standardized home inspector checklist while others provide a more thorough evaluation of the  home. Keep in mind, even if the inspection report is long, it doesn’t mean it’s thorough.

You also want to compare costs of hiring a home inspector. Costs can vary depending on experience, talent, size, and location of your home. According to Bankrate, the average home inspection can cost anywhere from $350 to $600. To get a fair price, ask all candidates for estimates. Some inspectors may even publish their fees online.

This is also a great time to budget for additional inspections. If your inspector discovers damage or identifies other issues, you may need to complete further investigations. For example, if your inspector finds termite damage, you may need to complete a termite inspection.

You want to verify your seller is willing to allow a time extension to complete the additional inspections.

Prepare the home for inspection

Prior to your home inspections, take note of specific areas that will undergo review during the visit. Assessing your home before inspection helps you better prepare. Once the home inspection is underway, be present the entire time. Take your own photos and notes and review any concerns with your inspector throughout the inspection. Most inspections should take a few hours, so be sure to block out an appropriate amount of time.

If the inspector insists that you don’t need to be there, this may be a red flag. You should accompany them throughout the house while observing anything they may see as a problem or a future problem.

What a home inspection does (and doesn’t) include

The American Society of Home Inspectors published a Standard of Practice as well as Code of Ethics that summarizes what inspectors review in a standard home inspection.

Typically, a home inspection should cover your home’s central heating and cooling systems; plumbing and electrical systems; attic and visible insulation; and structural components (roof, walls, ceilings, basement, doors, foundations, and more).

Keep in mind, there are certain components of your home that aren’t addressed in a home inspection. These home features include warped or squeaky floors, sewer lines, septic tank systems, landscape and trees, and more. Some home inspectors may make notes about these items; however, most inspectors limit their liability to the items required.

Review your report

Once you receive your inspection report, take the time to review it in detail. If your home inspector discovers a major problem or a list of minor problems that you weren’t expecting, you may want to reconsider the purchase of your new home.

Your home inspector won’t provide an estimate for repairs or life expectancy of appliances or other systems. It’s wise to consult with a contractor for estimates before making your final buying decision. Once you understand the necessary repairs and costs, you can negotiate with the seller.

As long as you’re still within the contingency period, you have the option to move forward with the home as is, renegotiate the price with the seller, ask the seller to make the repairs, or cancel the contract entirely.

Complete the purchase of your new home

If you asked the seller to complete the repairs, have your real estate agent walk through the home to verify all repairs are complete. If there were recent repairs to the foundation, roof, or other vital elements in the home, you may have to schedule a re-inspection. Home inspectors may require an additional fee for re-inspection, however, it may only be a fraction of the original inspection fee.

Finally, after all repairs are complete, you can move forward with the sale of the home.

Throughout the home buying process, it’s easy to fall in love with the home of your dreams. Everything from the beautiful new kitchen to the cozy reading nook can jade your home buying decision. Take the time to complete this home inspection checklist, so the home of your dreams doesn’t turn into a nightmare.

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