5 Mistakes Buyers and Sellers Make With Home Inspections
A home inspection is a mainly visual evaluation of a home’s condition. Home inspectors typically provide inspection services to determine the performance of the home. The inspection isn’t just about identifying problems with the house. A thorough inspector considers the appointment a master class in your new home.
“We want to teach them how to maintain the property, because it’s the biggest investment they’ll ever make,” says Alden E. Gibson, Home Inspector and president of Inspections by Gibson.
Getting a home inspection? Here are the 5 mistakes to avoid.
- Not Going Over the Inspection W/ Inspector or Realtor
- Not Attending the Inspection.
- Not Taking Advantage of Recommendations.
- Not Communicating with the Inspector.
- Not Prepping the Home.
NOT GOING OVER THE INSPECTION…
If you don’t read the inspection and go over the aspects you don’t understand or have questions about, then there’s a good chance that not too far down the road, you’ll be searching for someone to answer that questions. If you don’t ask the Home Inspector -this time, then the answers you’ll receive are subject to interpretation of the Inspectors answers. Unfortunately, in this law-suit-happy world we live in the Home Inspector must use direct and narrowly-constructed language in his report. In most cases, the problem or issue will be noted, photographed, you’ll be given a pre-written description with a suggestion to hire a particular professional (structural engineer, land surveyor, radon gas expert, Etc.) for further evaluation. The Home Inspector may know a lot, and he or she may know what to look for, but there are just too many aspects -that change continually as new advances in technique come to market- involved with home construction for a Home Inspector to be an expert at everything. If you have a question about the report you’ve been give and have PAID for, ask the Inspector. Most are more than happy to tell you exactly what they think, and they’ll have an opinion that isn’t a pre-written, all-encompassing description or notice.
NOT ATTENDING THE INSPECTION…
There are two schools of thought on this one… Personally, I’m more than happy to have the buyer attend the home inspection, and I’ve even had entire families attend…The only draw-back to this is TIME. Typically, an inspector only has 2-3 hours to invest in the physical inspection, and when buyers are present, many have questions -a lot of questions…questions about aspects of the home that are in perfect working order. These questions can take the Inspectors concentration from the “issue” he wanted to tell you about to the off-topic question about “Is that what they call Crown Molding?” It’s great to attend the inspection, but remember to let the Inspector “Inspect,” and keep questions on-topic. If you notice something that the inspector does not comment on, feel free to ask about it… It’s also perfectly fine to let the Inspector go to the property by himself so he can focus on the task-at-hand and give you the information you’re paying him for
NOT TAKING ADVANTAGE OF RECOMMENDATIONS.
If there’s a notation about something in the report, and a recommendation given (and there’s almost always a recommendation given), do your best to follow the advice. Many Inspectors think that it’s there job to point out every single aspect of the home that isn’t perfect. That’s fine, if that’s what you’ve asked the Inspector to do, but pointing out every single nail-pop is time consuming, and for the most part not needed. There are issues with every home – I don’t care how new it is or how wonderful the contractor and his Subs. are that built it. If the Inspector states in his report that he cannot determine -for whatever reason- how old the furnace is or when it was last serviced, and recommends that you find out, it’s as easy as asking a question. Remember, the seller, by law is required to disclose everything they know about the property that is or might be “wrong.” If you’re advised to inquire about the last service of the furnace and you get an answer of “You know…I don’t think we’ve ever had it serviced. It’s never had a problem,” and the property is five years old, there’s a good change the filters never got changed in those five years either; plus that give you a good idea of the type of maintenance the home has had over it’s short lifetime.
FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR INSPECTOR.
Remember, even though your Realtor® or Agent gave you the name of the Inspector, He belongs to You! You hired him, you are paying him, and he works for YOU -not your agent or the owner! You’d be surprised how often buyers think the Inspector is “off limits” to their questions or direction. His only obligation is to you! A good inspector will help you to know and understand that and go out of his way to make sure YOU are happy with the decision to hire him.
NOT PREPPING THE HOME
This is preety obvious, but most sellers who don’t have a good Realtor® simply don’t think to do this. Your buyer’s Inspector will need access to the crawl space (if applicable), the attic, the furnace, water heater and Fuse Panel (among other areas)…Most Home Inspectors will not and cannot (by Insurance Requirement) move items (personal property or debris) covering access to the crawl space or impeding access to the furnace or water heater. A small time investment on your part will go a long way, and will show your buyer(s) that you have nothing to hide, and that your home is everything you say it is. Move your “junk” out of the way to access doors/panels and make sure nothing is blocking your furnace or water heater. You can even go a step further and leave a note on the kitchen countertop telling the inspector where he/she can find the Main Water Shut-Off Valve, the Fuse Panel, the Furnace (if it’s in an attic), the water heater (if it’s concealed in a closet or located in a covered hatch).
You’ve got a lot of time and money invested, both the buyer and the seller, so taking just a few more minutes to get the most out of your Home Inspection will be well worth it. The Home Inspection Report is meant to be read, so take a minute or two and see what it tells you…changes are you’ll be glad you did!
–Jeff Harris Home Inspector | JS Harris Group, LLC