Buying a home and looking for a qualified home inspector might bring up a lot of questions. Here are a few frequently asked questions we receive most often, however, don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any additional questions.
What is a Home Inspection?
A home inspection is an evaluation of the visible and accessible systems and components of a home (plumbing, heating and cooling, electrical, structure, roof, etc.) and is intended to give you a better understanding of the home’s general condition. A home inspection should not be considered a “technically exhaustive” evaluation, but rather an evaluation of the property on the day it is inspected, taking into consideration normal wear and tear for the home’s age and location. A home inspection can also include Radon gas testing for an additional fee, which is recommended in homes in southeastern Wisconsin.
What are a few common red flags to watch out for in the results of a home inspection?
1. Major defects, such as large differential cracks in the foundation; structure out of level or plumb; decks not installed or supported properly, etc. These are items that are expensive to fix, which we classify as items requiring more than 2% of the purchase price to repair.
2. Things that could lead to major defects – a roof flashing leak that could get bigger, damaged downspouts that could cause backup and water intrusion, or a support beam that was not tied in to the structure properly.
3. Safety hazards, such as an exposed electrical wiring, lack of GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters) in kitchens and bathrooms, lack of safety railing on decks more than 30 inches off the ground, etc.
Should any of these issues arise, we’ll be happy to provide some recommended next steps, such as considering an evaluation by licensed specialists in the defect area. For example, we may recommend you call a licensed building engineer if we find sections of the home that are out of alignment, as this could indicate a serious structural deficiency.
Can sellers benefit from a home inspection?
Here are just a few of the advantages for the seller:
• The seller knows the home! We would be able to receive answers on any questions regarding the history of the home and any problems we may find.
• A home inspection will help the seller be more objective when it comes to setting a fair price on the home.
• The seller can take the report and make it into a marketing piece for the home.
• The seller will be alerted to any safety issues found in the home before they open it up for open house tours.
• The seller can make repairs leisurely instead being in a rush after the contract is signed.
Why should I get a pre-purchase home inspection?
Your new home has dozens of systems and over 10,000 parts – from heating and cooling to ventilation and appliances. When these systems and appliances work together, you experience comfort, energy savings, and durability. Weak links in the system, however, can produce assorted problems leading to a loss in value and shortened component life. Would you buy a used car without a qualified mechanic looking at it? Your home is far more complicated, and to have a thorough inspection that is documented in a report arms you with substantial information on which to make decisions.
Can I do the inspection myself, or ask a handy family member?
Most homebuyers lack the knowledge, skill, and objectivity needed to inspect a home themselves. By using the services of a professional home inspector, they gain a better understanding of the condition of the property; especially whether any items do not “function as intended” or “adversely affect the habitability of the dwelling” or “warrant further investigation” by a specialist. Remember that home inspectors are generalists and are broadly trained in every home system.
Although your nephew or aunt may be very skilled, he or she is not trained or experienced in professional home inspections and usually lacks the specialized test equipment and knowledge required for an inspection. Home inspection training and expertise represent a distinct, licensed profession that employs rigorous standards of practice. Most contractors and other trade professionals hire a professional home inspector to inspect their own homes when they themselves purchase a home!
Can a house fail a home inspection?
No. A home inspection is an examination of the current condition of your prospective home. It is not an appraisal, which determines market value, or a municipal inspection, which verifies local code compliance. A home inspector, therefore, cannot not pass or fail a house. The inspector will objectively describe the home’s physical condition and indicate which items are in need of repair or replacement.
What about a newly constructed home? Does it need a home inspection?
Yes! In fact, we find far more problems, some quite serious, in newly constructed homes than in homes that have been lived in for years. This is not due to your builder’s negligence – he/she has done the best job they could with subcontractors and planning – it’s just that there are so many systems in a home, that it is close to impossible to inspect everything, and correct it before the C.O. is issued. Then, for some reason, the subcontractors no longer want to work on the home, and final jobs and details are missed. We recommend getting several professional home inspections near the completion stages of the home to discover everything that should be corrected. If the house is still new but sitting for a while before sale, it’s even more important to get a home inspection. We have seen water lines not hooked up, plumbing lines not hooked up, sewer lines not hooked up, vents not hooked up, and a variety of other serious but easily correctable problems!
What kind of report will I get following the inspection and what do I do with this information?
After the inspection, you will receive a computer generated report via email, complete with digital pictures and commentary for each of the major systems areas in the home.
There are some great things you can use the report for in addition to the wealth of information it simply gives you on your new home:
• Use the report as a checklist and guide for the contractor to make repairs and improvements or get estimates and quotes from more than one contractor.
• Use the report as a budgeting tool using the inspector’s recommendations and the remaining expected life of components to keep the property in top shape.
• If you are a seller, use the report to make repairs and improvements, raising the value of the home and impressing the buyers. Then have a re-inspection and use this second report as a marketing tool for prospective buyers.
• Use the report as a “punch list” on a re-inspection and as a baseline for ongoing maintenance.