A Guide to Understanding How a Home Inspection Works

Once a home is under contract, or sometimes even before, a home inspection is usually the next step. Buyers want to be sure that they’re not getting in over their heads and buying a home with problems they can’t see. But some buyers, especially first-timers, often overestimate what a home inspection can reveal.

What a home inspection can find

A home inspection can uncover quite a bit. The inspector spends several hours, no less than 2-3, going over the home. He’ll look at the major home systems, like the plumbing, electrical wiring, HVAC, and the home’s appliances. He’ll inspect the roof, the flooring, the ceilings, windows, walls and doors. Structural problems can be revealed through this inspection, as well as leaks, drafts, and sometimes foundation issues.

He’ll take pictures and notes, and if you’re present when the inspection is done, he’ll probably discuss with you some of his findings.

What a home inspection can’t find

The home inspection is thorough, but it’s not meant to go over every tiny possible detail. Some things will go uninspected, and that means some stuff will remain unseen. Pest problems, such as termites, may not be noted, unless they are severe. Asbestos, mold, or even lead paint may also be missed. If you have concerns about issues like that, you may want to consider bringing in some specialists to check on those things for you.

Who does the home inspector work for?

A home inspector is working for whoever hires them – in theory. A seller can hire a home inspector before listing their home, to uncover any problems that they may want to resolve before they try to sell. A buyer hires a home inspector to look at a home they want to purchase.

However, both sellers and buyers can hire a home inspector recommended by their real estate agent. It’s important to consider that the preexisting relationship between the home inspector and the real estate agent may influence the inspector’s report. This is not to say that all home inspectors are dishonest, but it is worth considering hiring one you find on your own to ensure that you get a thoroughly unbiased report.

What happens if the inspection uncovers problems?

There are a few options if the inspection reveals problems. Major problems could be enough to kill the deal. Alternatively, the buyer could use the report to negotiate a lower price, or the seller may set aside escrowed funds to pay to resolve the issues found.

A home inspection is no guarantee that a home is in excellent condition. But it can go a long way toward giving you some peace of mind that there are no major issues that will need immediate attention.

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