Before you buy a home, it’s important to order a home inspection from a professional. An offer is usually contingent on a satisfactory home inspection.
Once the sale has closed, the new owner is responsible for fixing any issues that may occur within the home. Thus, it’s important to hire a home inspector that knows what he or she is doing, and will unveil any and all potential issues with the home.
How to find a good home inspector
If you’re working with a realtor, they will may give you one or two names of home inspectors they like and work with on a regular basis. Remember, you are not obliged to work with your realtor’s inspector. Even if you trust them, take a few moments to do your own due diligence. Check out the inspector’s website, read some of their reviews online, and even give them a call if you’d let to get a better sense of who they are.
Inspections typically cost between $300 and $600, but it depends largely on the location and square footage of the home.
If you don’t have a referral for a home inspector, or want to search for another, The American Society of Home Inspectors and The National Association of Home Inspectors have search tools that will help you find inspectors in your area.
What questions to ask a home inspector
There is a lot that takes place during a home inspection, and it’s important that you ask all the questions you need to make an informed decision on how to proceed with your offer. Inspectors are used to answering questions, so don’t feel like you are over-asking, or bothering the inspector by asking too many – they expect it!
Here are a few key questions to keep in mind:
- How serious is this? Some issues obviously affect home livability more than others, and it’s important to understand exactly how much each and every found issue will about your life if living in the home.
- Does it need to be fixed? An inspector’s job is to find any issue with the house, big or small. Just because an issue is discovered doesn’t mean it must be fixed.
- Who should fix this? Some repairs are simple enough that you or the current owner may be able to fix it themselves. Other issues might require someone with a speciality. If a repair service is needed, the inspector may be able to provide you with some recommended names. While they may not be able to give you an exact estimate of the cost involved, they should at least be able to say if it will be a big project or a smaller one.
- Can you show me how to operate that? If you plan on buying the house, you should also know how to operate some basic features such as turning on and off the water, electricity and gas, how to use a gas fireplace, or heating / air conditioning system.
- Can you show me what you’re talking about again? If you aren’t exactly sure what your inspector is talking about, ask for a demonstration, even if you’ve already received one earlier in the inspection! This home might be the biggest investment you make, so you aren’t going to want to cut corners.
Pro Tip: Inspectors are not there to provide advice on how you should proceed with your offer, so avoid asking things like “Should I buy this home” or “What would you do?”. However, a good inspector will give you enough information about the details of what he finds for you to make a well informed decision of your own.