Hiring a certified home inspector can identify potential problems such as outdated plumbing, cracks in the foundation, flaking, unsafe wiring, water damage, and more. If you’re a first-time homebuyer, you can make the inspection and home-buying process go more smoothly with the help of a detailed home inspection checklist.
This article includes:
- What is a Home Inspection?
- How to Prepare Your Home Inspection Checklist
- Common Home Inspection Questions
- Home Inspection Tips for First-Time Buyers
- Home Inspection vs. Home Appraisal
- What a Home Inspection Does Not Include
- Cost of a Home Inspection
What is a Home Inspection?
During a home inspection, a certified inspector will go to the house up for purchase and give a professional opinion on the home’s condition, including a detailed report of findings. To assess any serious issues that need to be dealt with immediately or may cost the new homeowner a lot of money, home inspectors will often examine the home’s key components, such as the air conditioning system and the foundation.
The home inspection report provides the buyer with valuable insight into whether or not the property seems to have been well-maintained and whether or not substantial repairs are required. After purchasing a new home, the inspection report may create a prioritized list of needed upgrades and a roadmap for future renovations. The buyer can ask the seller to make the necessary repairs before closing or request a credit to use toward the cost of repairs.
As a buyer, you might benefit more from your home inspection report if you create a checklist of areas of concern.
How to Prepare Your Home Inspection Checklist
The overall condition of a home is typically the primary concern of home inspectors. Make sure you are well-prepared for the professional home inspection by compiling a list of the sections of the property that you would like the inspector to pay special attention to.
Mark off the things on the checklist that are in satisfactory condition and keep a note of the ones that are not. The following items should be included in your home inspection checklist:
- Exterior siding and doors
- Crawl space
- Driveways and walkways
- Drainage, grading, plants, and retaining walls
- Wall coverings, flashing, and trim
- Balconies and railings
- Eaves, fascias, and soffits
- Downspouts and gutters
- Above floor
- Sump pump
- Electrical splices
- Soffit vents
- End louvers
- Exhaust ducts
- Exhaust-fan vents
- Shut-off valves
- Built-in appliances
- Exhaust fan
- Shower caulking
- Garage doors and operators
- Floors and doors
- Cabinets and countertops
- Kitchen appliances
- Fireplaces and stoves
- Sump pumps
- Sewage ejectors
- Water heater
- Drain and waste systems
- Service equipment, drops, grounding, and main disconnects
- Service cables, entrance conductors, and raceways
- Light fixtures, receptacles, and power switches
- Overcurrent protection devices
- Circuit interrupters
- HVAC systems (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning)
- Air conditioning
- Water heater
A thorough inspection will take many hours. It’s in your best interest to be there for the inspection so that you may get as much information as possible about the home’s condition and raise any questions that might arise.
Common Home Inspection Questions
You should be present and attentive while your home inspection is going on. Take your time, don’t be in a hurry, and thoroughly check out each room. Validate the condition of your home by asking the questions on your home inspection checklist.
Good questions to ask your inspector include:
- Is there any flooded landscaping?
- How about the septic tank? Does it have any leaks?
- Are there any signs of decay or termite damage?
- Is the floor shifting, or are there cracks in the walls and ceiling?
- How well does water leave the foundation of the home via drainage?
- Do the window and door frames have any slant or bend to them?
- Is the stucco crumbling in significant areas?
- Do you see any stains, flaking, or fading on the external walls?
- Can you find any indication of standing water?
- Do you know if the chimney needs repair or is in good condition?
- Is there any patching on the roof?
- Does it appear that adequate insulation has been installed?
- Do you know if the electrical outlets work?
- Are the gutters working as expected?
- Do all of the rooms have sufficient electrical outlets?
- Are the caulk joints around the window frames sealed?
- How safe do you feel knowing you can find all the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors you need?
- Where is the service panel?
- Have you checked to see whether the water pressure is sufficient?
- Is there an issue with the fuses or circuit breakers?
- How many of the attic’s electrical splices are open?
- Have you checked to see if any of the pipes are leaking?
- How’s the condition of the water pump?
- Are you getting hot water at a temperature higher than 125 degrees Fahrenheit?
- Does the home have balanced airflow across all of its rooms?
- Can you see any corrosion on the cooling unit?
- Have the air filters in the cooling system been changed in recent times?
- Do the water pipes, air ducts, or heating pipes in your home have a history of containing asbestos?
- Does the water flow get impeded by the pipes?
Home Inspection Tips for First-Time Buyers
It’s normal for first-time homebuyers to be overwhelmed by the prospect of an inspection, but the process may be smooth with the right preparation. To help you get ready for your first home inspection, we’ve compiled a few pointers that should be followed alongside your home inspection checklist:
Finding the Right Inspector
When looking for certified home inspectors, it’s important to pick someone from an accredited organization, such as the ASHI (the American Society of Home Inspectors).
Your real estate agent should be able to recommend certified home inspectors who meet your needs. Getting referrals from trusted people is the best approach to finding a home inspector to suit your requirements. It’s also important to read an inspector’s online reviews, which will tell you if previous customers had a good experience.
Seller’s Disclosure Statement
The term “disclosure statement” refers to the document the seller hands over to the buyer that lays out all the information about the property that the buyer needs to know. State laws and regulations in various jurisdictions determine the content of a disclosure statement. Frequently, the seller will ask a series of yes-or-no questions.
Before a formal home inspection, prospective home buyers should get a disclosure statement so that the home inspector may double-check the quality of any renovations or repairs made (because the seller’s disclosure statement will highlight these areas).
Maintain Your Due Diligence
Researching suitable inspectors in advance is essential. The inspector you choose should be impartial, unaffiliated with the sale, and proficient in their field. First-time homebuyers, in particular, should always look for inspectors who are proficient in their work. Try to check out your new home before the inspector comes so you can compile a list of inquiries for the seller and home inspector.
Once you choose the most suitable inspector, develop a list of questions to ask them (see the list above for good examples of what to ask). It’s good practice to inquire about the inspection price and scope before agreeing to any work. Always confirm that your contractor is accessible during the times specified in your purchase agreement. The inspection is only a small portion of the process, and it may take several days to get a full report of the findings.
Attend the scheduled inspection, and feel free to ask as many questions as you like. An immediate red flag is raised if your inspector does not want you present during the inspection. Think again if you believe it’s better to let your inspector perform their job without interfering.
Read the Home Inspection Report Carefully
Don’t rush through reading a home inspection report after receiving it. A typical home inspection report presents the most vital information first, followed by increasingly specific descriptions of the house. Ask the home inspector or your real estate agent for an explanation if you don’t understand something in the report. Your decision on whether or not to include inspection conditions in the house purchase will be aided by the data you analyze from the inspection report.
If your home inspection report mentioned repairs or damage, don’t panic. Homebuyers can bargain with sellers to fix key issues identified in an inspection report, even if the seller is unwilling to address all of the issues identified.
In light of the information in your home inspection report, you and your real estate agent can begin to talk about potential negotiations. They might negotiate a lower price or have the seller perform specified repairs before closing.
Home Inspection vs. Home Appraisal
Your prospective mortgage lender will want a home appraisal to determine the property’s fair market value. Borrowing money involves several steps, one of which is getting an appraisal. However, this evaluation will not disclose the particular facts of the home’s condition.
The home’s location, size, and overall condition will be the primary focus of any home appraisal. Hence, it will not be that detailed. In contrast to the home inspector, the appraiser will not seek out issues by going into the basement or climbing up onto the property’s roof.
What a Home Inspection Does Not Include
Consult national organizations like the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors and the American Society of Home Inspectors to learn about the standards in effect for home inspections in your state.
Potentially omitted components include:
- Internet service
- Carpeted floors
- Swimming pool equipment
- Infestation of mice or other rodents
- Pests, like termites or carpenter ants
- Electrical systems
Extra services, such as mold or carbon dioxide testing, may be provided by professional home inspectors for an additional charge. There is no universal rule that home inspectors will note the presence of any of the items on this list, as mentioned earlier, although they usually do. The inspector may only report on what is visible to them, so anything hidden behind walls or underground will not be mentioned.
Cost of a Home Inspection
Often, the homebuyer will pay for the expense of the inspection at the time it is conducted. A home inspection costs from $240 to $435 on average, depending on the property’s location, size, and age.
However, a standard home inspection may not cover all of your concerns. You can request supplementary inspections, usually for an additional charge. Potential supplementary inspections include:
- Radon testing: A professional radon test will let you know if any traces of radon, a toxic gas, are present in the home. Radon testing costs anywhere from $310 – $1,420.
- Mold inspection: A mold inspection will test for mold in the air and on surfaces in the home. A typical mold inspection costs between $350 and $930.
- Lead paint inspection: Homes built before 1978 should be tested for lead paint. A lead paint inspection costs about $230 – $420.
- Termite inspection: Termite inspections are totally separate from general home inspections, but they’re just as vital. Termites could devastate your new home, so you want to know if you’re at risk of infestation before purchasing. A termite inspection costs from $80 to $260.
- HVAC inspection: Before purchasing a home, you should have an HVAC expert check out the HVAC system to determine if any major, expensive repairs or replacements will be needed in the near future. An HVAC inspection costs around $300 on average.
- Roof inspection: The roof may or may not be included in a general home inspection. If it isn’t, you’ll definitely want to opt for a separate roof inspection to determine if the you will need to repair or replace the roof soon. A roof inspection costs from $120 to $320 most of the time.
- Chimney inspection: If your home has a chimney, you may have to pay separately for a chimney inspection, as well. Generally, chimney inspections cost around $435 on average.
Buying a house is likely the most expensive thing you’ll ever do. To ensure you’re not getting scammed, get a home inspection done. You may want to rethink your option if the professional inspector discovers more serious faults or a longer list of minor ones than anticipated.
Before your professional home inspection, be prepared with a home inspection checklist and a list of questions that are important to you. Once you’re ready, find a trusted home inspector in your area.
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