When you and your Realtor successfully negotiate an offer to purchase a home and you go officially “under contract”, the next step for smart buyers is to hire an inspector to inspect the home. But what does that entail, and how do you find a good inspector, and how do you know what he finds?
Inspectors are like any other professionals–there are good ones, there are really good ones, and there are not-so-good ones. Your realtor should be able to give you a list of several inspectors that are licensed by the state, and that past clients have hired and been satisfied with.
Call 2 or 3 of the inspectors on the list and find out what they charge, the scope of their inspection, how they will deliver the report and how quickly, how quickly they’re available, etc. Be sure to ask each inspector the same questions so you can compare apples to apples.
Once you hire someone and have an appointment set, it’s important for you to be there for the inspection. If you can’t come for the entire time, find out how long he’ll be there and come toward the end so you can go over the findings with the inspector on site. He should be able to show you pictures he’s taken of problem areas, explain what those problems are, and guide you in deciding whether or not you want to proceed with the purchase of the home.
Your inspector will inspect the whole house. He’ll look at the roof, go into the attic, check the electrical panels, switches, and plugs; he’ll check out the HVAC system, run the heater and the air conditioner to be sure they’re heating/cooling properly. He’ll also run the appliances, turn on all the lights, check windows, look at walls, open and close doors, look at flooring.
Outside, he’ll check the foundation–if it’s a pier and beam, he will go under the house. He’ll look at all exterior trim, check the chimney and fireplace, check water pressure. If the house has a sprinkler system, he’ll check that as well. He’ll check for plumbing leaks, run all faucets, flush all toilets.
If the house has a pool, that may be a separate inspection done by someone who knows pools. Same if the house is on a septic system.
You should also have a termite/wood-destroying insect inspection to be sure there are no termites, carpenter ants, or other pests trying to set up house.
He’ll follow up with a written report that details the results of his inspection and points out items that should be considered for repair.
After you receive this report, then it’s up to you, your realtor, and the decision makers to decide what to do. In Texas, if you’ve chosen and paid for an option period, you have 3 choices; accept the property as is and move forward; exercise your “option” to terminate and receive a refund of your earnest money deposit; or, negotiate with the seller for repairs. Just be sure you make your decision and notify the seller in writing before the end of your option period. Your realtor can explain this process in more detail, or you can contact me and I’d be happy to do so.
Keep a copy of the inspection report. If you choose to ask the seller to repair some of the items, you may also want to share a copy of the report with him/her so that he/she can see exactly what the inspector said about whatever the issue or issues may be.
If you’re not real familiar with all the terminology and workings of a house, you might ask the inspector how much it would cost to fix the things he has noted. He may not wish to answer that question as it is beyond his area of expertise. But he should be able to tell you whether or not something warrants further investigation by someone who can fix it.
Talk to your realtor and let him/her guide you. Most of us who have been in business awhile have found inspectors whose work we trust and who will give a buyer straight answers without making small things into big deals and who will make sure any major
items that present problems will be explained and encourage buyers to have them evaluated more completely.
Good luck! Inspections are important. Unless you have the expertise and skills to evaluate home repairs and perform them, the cost of an inspection will pay for itself in peace of mind!