You have decided to buy a home by yourself or with a significant other. You have fantasised about it for a while. So, you already know which curtains will match that lovely carpet you saw yesterday in a small shop, and which area of the city best suits your needs. But when your wallet finally said yes to your dream, it is like you’ve opened Pandora´s box. Recurring nightmares of buying and moving into a money-pit are leaving you anxious and you are not enjoying the idea of home ownership so much.
What are the Responsibilities of a Home Inspector?
To avoid unnecessary problems during your house hunting, you simply need to hire a home inspector. They should be licensed professional who will examine your potential home and give you a realistic assessment of it. They will examine the current condition of the house, but will not make predictions about the future of the appliances or condition of the house.
The home inspector will not determine the value of the property, or check whether or not the state of the property is compliant with the appropriate laws in your state. They will identify any issues with the property and it is then up to the buyer to make an informed decision based on the inspector’s findings.
Even if you think you don´t need a home inspector because you feel you have all the skills and information you need to perform such a task, there is one thing you should know. The sellers may insist on the buyer verifying the condition of the property, otherwise, they will not complete the sale.
At your first meeting with the home inspector, you may be overwhelmed by the specialist terms they use. You may even want to leave them to do their job without asking them any questions. But, to avoid being left with the shopping list type of the report without slightest inkling what those terms mean or who to turn to in order to estimate the cost and fix all the problems, we suggest asking a few questions.
What are the Essential Questions to be ask a Home Inspector?
One of the first things you should inquire about is their competency to perform an inspection. You should ask them:
- Are You a Licensed Professional?
Anyone doing a building inspection should be a suitably qualified person (a licensed builder, a surveyor or an architect). Ask them to show you their qualifications. You may be approached by your realtor who wishes to be contracted as home inspector as well. However, this is not a good idea because the realtor may purposely withhold some information from you. This is done in order to maintain the high value of a property and is at best unethical and in many cases illegal.
What to Ask a Home Inspector Before the Inspection Begins?
You are pleased with your choice of inspector and now you want to know what you get for your money. A few savvy things to ask would be:
- What Exactly Are You Going to Do?
The inspector´s job is to examine your potential home using non-invasive methods. There is an Australian Standard for pre-purchase building inspection reports and the report provided to you must meet these standards. A basic inspection is generally visual only. It may not identify major structural defects or other hidden problems, but there are additional assessments which can be done of the property from a suitably accredited specialist.
- Will You Check the Grounds?
Your home inspector is looking at the condition of the property, and will look over the whole site. They will look at any sheds, fences, paths and driveways, and steps. They will not inspect underground pipes, septic tanks, or wells and each of these features can be costly to repair.
- Can I Follow You During the Inspection?
If they say no, run for the hills. You must able to see what you get for your money and have the opportunity to ask whatever you want to know.
- Cost of repair
Your inspector is not obliged to give you information regarding the cost of the repair. But more often than not, they will be keen on explaining to you what a minor problem is, and what a complicated issue is. They may also suggest further inspections by specialists of particular areas of the property.
- Can I fix something this by myself?
You may read the report at the end of the inspection and be confused with terms the inspector used to describe the problems. Some of those problems sound like they are going to cost hundreds of dollars.
But if you ask the inspector, it could turn out that some of those problems are minor and, even if you not handyman yourself, you can fix it by yourself, maybe with the help of a YouTube video.
- Whom should I call to fix this problem?
The inspector has found many issues with your potential home, but you still want to purchase it. You don´t know any good plumber or electrician. Any home inspector that has been in the business for a while should be able to recommend a few expert handymen.
What must be Fixed/ Changed?
Doubting your decision to go ahead and buy the property because it has many issues? Check every issue in the report with the inspector and ask them:
- What needs immediate attention?
Some of the problems found by the inspector need to be immediately fixed, but not everything requires urgent attention. Be sure to ask your inspector when issues must be taken care of.
- Is there anything in the house that doesn´t comply with local or state laws?
It is not the inspector´s job to know those laws or tell you what in the house is or isn´t compliant with the law. But if you choose an experienced inspector chances are they will be able to give you some information or, at least, refer you to a certified professional.
Buying new/old/foreclosed home:
These are some of the specific cases, each with its own risk. It is a bit outside of the job description for your inspector, but nevertheless, you should ask them:
- What are the risks of buying a new house?
Some of the newer houses are built in a way that doesn´t allow air to circulate which is not healthy for residents or appliances.
- What are the risks of buying an old house?
Older houses are often more susceptible to rot, mold, and termite infestation. One of the biggest issues is outdated wiring which can even cause the fire.
- What are the risks involved in buying foreclosed houses?
The financial troubles of the previous owner may not be the only reason why the house is foreclosed. Often, lack of care by the owner can be a reason for foreclosing the house. Also, the bank is under no obligation to fix any damage in the house.
You want to be sure you know every issue with your potential home, so what you must ask your inspector is:
- Do you give any type of warranty on your inspection?
Usually, the report they will give you will have a ‘shelf life’ of 90 days. A good inspector will have insurance, so if their work is found to be negligent you won’t be left out of pocket.
- Is there anything I need to look more at?
You can never be sure that all the problems have been reported. But there may be areas that the inspector thinks need more attention.
- Future repairs
It is not the inspector’s job to predict a future condition of the house, but if you hired friendly and experienced inspector you can ask them if there is anything that might be a problem in the future.
Hopefully, we have prepared you well for your meeting with the inspector and the process of inspection.
We wish you a quick and easy buy of your dream home!