Getting a home inspection prior to buying a home seems like a no brainer today but you would be amazed at how many people just take a Realtor’s word for things. I have seen and heard it over and over where people say “But the Realtor said…” Yup, and if it is not in writing it is just that, words. A Realtor works for the seller, not you. They get paid when they make a sale. Of course they are nice. Would you buy from a nasty person? Of course not. I am not saying all Realtors are mis-leading but in many cases, they just don’t know. They are not builders or engineers or architects or inspectors. They are salespersons. You take a car to a mechanic before you buy it, why not take your house to a professional home inspector? There are out there today many great home inspection companies to choose from. Here is a hint, do not use the one the Realtor suggested. Use one not associated in any way with either the seller or Realtor. You will get a better quality, unbiased inspection that way.
A home inspector should be able to perform the inspection in a few hours time. The inspector will look into any accessible space but will not cut open walls for instance. If it is plain sight, the inspector should see it. Generally inspectors if they feel something is awry in a concealed space, will say so and put it on their report for you to check that item further.
They will start the inspection with the homes exterior to check things like roofing, gutters, foundation walls, general site grading, paint condition, windows, cracked driveway surfaces and so on.
Moving inside, again, all windows should be checked for glass condition, weather striping and to see if they operate correctly. Other items such as cracks in the drywall, doors that don’t close properly, sagging floors or ceilings, water stains, light fixtures, faucets and bath fixtures, overall general condition, kitchen appliances and so on. Electric panels and outlets will be checked for proper polarity, wall plates, panel tags on breakers and so on.
Moving to the basement area, an inspector will look for water mold stains, cracked foundation walls, dry rot in floor joists, conditions of support posts and a general look at the heating system. Is the boiler or furnace working properly? Is the furnace burner burning correctly? Any leaking pipes present? Do all electrical boxes have covers on them? It is not uncommon to have had one taken off and not replaced. The inspector will look at any sump pumps present to determine if possible, if the pumps are emergency use only or a daily need. Millions of homes have sump pumps and it will not deter a mortgage lender if the pump(s) and related piping are in working order.
Any good, independent inspector, will provide you with a well written report within a day or so.
Expect to pay him when he presents the report. He has no vested interest in whether you buy the home or not so his opinion should be honest and straightforward. He gets paid upfront no matter what your decision is in the end. Some inspection companies will provide a general values for repairs but always check with a local contractor before making a decision whether to buy or not. You want no surprises after you buy the home.
Home warranties are often available for the appliances depending upon their age. Replacing a fifteen hundred dollar fridge two months after moving in is not fun. Polices are usually quite cheap. Ask the Realtor if one is available.