Like your realtor or loan officer, a good home inspector is essential when purchasing a new home. The home inspector’s report helps you better understand the condition of the house. It also gives you valuable information regarding any potential replacements or repairs your house may need in the near future—and that can help you negotiate a fair selling price.
So what does a home inspector look for? And how do you find an inspector? Let’s find out.
What a home inspector looks for
The home inspector is focused on the electrical, mechanical and structural condition of the home. It’s important to remember that many home inspectors will not check for asbestos, lead paint, pest infestations, radon or mold since specific licenses are typically required for these inspections.
Instead, your home inspector will probably start by inspecting the home’s exterior. The home inspector is looking for sagging areas on the roof, shingle deterioration and visible roof vents. The outdoor inspection will also look for problems with the chimney, fascia, soffits and gutters. Windows and doors will be inspected for damage and rot. (The same applies if there’s a porch or deck.) The inspector will also grade the slope, flower beds and any driveways or walkways on the property.
Inside, most inspectors will start in the basement and work their way up. This gives them an opportunity to inspect the home’s foundation as well as any visible ceiling joists. The home inspector will also check out the electrical panel, furnace, water heater and plumbing.
In other rooms, the home inspector will review the condition of the floors, walls and ceilings. Many inspectors follow the same pattern to be sure they never miss a section of a room. The inspector will also look at the condition of any outlets, heat sources, fireplaces or closets in these rooms.
Once the inspection is complete, the inspector will compile a detailed report of any concerns that exist in the home. No matter what kind of home you are looking at, expect this report to be lengthy. It is the inspector’s job to point out every potential concern to you so you know whether they should dissuade you from purchasing the home.
Finding the right inspector
So how do you find an inspector who will deliver a thorough and trustworthy report?
Start by finding qualified home inspectors in your area through the American Society of Home Inspectors . Some states also regulate home inspectors. If your state does, you can verify the inspector’s license (as well as see any complaints) there. You should find out whether the home inspector carries errors and omissions insurance. This coverage would reimburse you if you incur expenses from a problem that the home inspector should have told you about.
Once you create a list of home inspectors who meet your qualifications, it’s best to ask them these questions:
- How long have you been an inspector?
- How long will the inspection take?
- How much will it cost?
- Is a documented report provided afterward?
Take careful notes during each interview. When you find an inspector you like, you will be ready to move forward with the home inspection.