You’ve found the home of your dreams and now you’re ready to make an offer but have you looked at the structure with unbiased eyes? Ask any real estate expert and they’ll tell you that you need to hire a professional inspector to give a fair assessment before committing to the purchase of your home. This will give you an opportunity to discover any potential downfalls that can lead to a lower offer or quick fixes before the seller hands over the keys.
But home inspectors aren’t perfect, so we’ve compiled some key tips that you can keep an eye on when going through the process. Paying attention to these important items will not only protect your investment but also help you mitigate problems before signing the final agreement.
You should be present during the entire inspection so you can ask any questions and make sure all the items on your checklist have been accounted for.
Don’t worry, you’re not being a pest. Home inspectors expect the potential homeowner to be part of the process and understand that this is your investment.
Look for mildew and mold stains and if found, get the inspector’s opinion on if they’re serious. Black mold, for example, can cause serious health problems and requires a professional to remove, which is something you can (and should) negotiate in the offer.
You’ll notice that one of the first areas the inspector checks is the roof. If the elements underneath the shingles are moist or rotted, you can request repairs as part of your offer. Always ask the current homeowner the age of the roof. This is something they need to disclose. If it’s older than 15 years, then you can negotiate a lower offer because it may be close to required replacement.
If the home has a chimney, you’ll also want to ensure flashing around the base is watertight, and that mortar and bricks are in good condition. Also, inspect the fireplace to make sure it is functioning properly.
Quick tip: One thing to consider doing is purchasing your home in the warmer months. It’s difficult for inspectors to get a true assessment of the roof’s integrity if there is excessive snow build up or ice on the structure.
A strong foundation is critical for the life of the home. Ensure that your inspector is examining the base of the walls and the ceilings in each room. Check for obvious cracks or apparent shifts in the foundation. And do the same around the outside. Are there any trees encroaching on the foundation?
Sometimes, foundational inspections are an additional fee. We believe that this is worth the extra cost, especially in older home. Foundational issues can cause serious issues in the long-run, which makes the nominal upfront check worth it.
One area of the home you may forget to consider is the lot. Check to see if the drainage appears to be away from the homes or if there are any soggy areas. You can always perform the initial inspection on a dry day and then go back to the home on a day when it’s raining to see what happens to excessive moisture around the home.
This will help you understand if you’ll need to deal with leaks in the basement, which again, can lead to significant damage and repair costs.
The exterior of the home is obviously the selling point from a curb appeal standpoint. You want a nice exterior that well represents you dream home. How is the paint or siding? Does it need touching up or repairs? Also, check that the gutters and downspouts are firmly attached.
This is generally a concern in older homes, but you’ll want the inspector to check the electric is up to code and safe. Check to make sure all the switches work and if not, ask the homeowner to make this repair before you move into the home.
Also, ensure that all of the outlets have been grounded to prevent serious issues such as fire or total loss.
Your home’s plumbing is critical to the overall enjoyment and living quality. Do a thorough check of all fixtures including faucets, showers and toilets. How is the water pressure? How long does the hot water last? Does the toilet flush powerfully enough for your liking. These may seem like minute details but think about it, these all have a huge impact on your way of life.
The inspector will check for quality of the plumbing but you will need to check for the items detailed above.
The bigger ticket items in the home are a major part of the home inspection. Check with the homeowner and get confirmation from the inspector on the life of the heating and air conditioning units. These may need to replaced and this can part of your final negotiations.
Also, get confirmation on appliances. If you’re negotiating to keep the refrigerator, stove, dishwasher, etc. make sure that they are in working condition and efficient for your home. If not, you may want to have the homeowner remove and purchase new.