When most people think about questions to ask their home inspector, they are usually questions that need to be asked before hiring an inspector, such as:
1. How much will it cost?
2. How long will the inspection take?
3. What do you look for during the inspection?
These are all necessary questions, but most buyers don’t think about what they should ask their inspector AFTER the inspection is complete.
Home inspections are often intense and stressful for buyers. You know its necessary and coming up as soon as your offer is accepted. The stress comes from not knowing what the home inspector will find. Its no wonder that buyers and sellers are always so stressed out. Thankfully, in almost all situations, you’ll discover that an inspection is just one more moderate challenge in your journey to home ownership.
The home inspection report will almost certainly reveal things that you don’t want to hear. However, most problems found by the home inspector can be easily managed with a cool head and an experienced real estate professional negotiating on your behalf. The important thing is to understand what it is that the inspection report says.
Unfortunately, some home inspectors will cover their backsides to the extreme in their reports. The reports always seem a lot more ominous than what the inspector said in person, making it seem like you are purchasing the lemon that nobody else wants. There can be a disconnect between what is said by the inspector and what he writes in his report. This shouldn’t happen, but it does often.
After reading your inspection report, if you think you understand all of it… look at it again! As you’re reading the report, write down questions that you want to ask your inspector. Write down things that you need clarification on too. The best time to pick the brain of your inspector is once the report is delivered, but before you hand the seller your check! If you can’t think of any questions to ask, have your realtor review the report also.
Questions every buyer should ask the inspector after the inspection:
1. Can you explain this to me?
Unless you are also a home inspector, there will most likely be parts of the inspection report that you do not fully understand. It’s normal to require clarification, especially if you were unable to attend the inspection and walk through the home with your home inspector.
2. How serious is this problem?
Home inspection reports should be extremely detailed. Many reports can be as many as 50+ pages and multiple pictures or graphics. That is a lot of information to absorb at once. It may be hard to decide which items are serious and which are less worrisome. That is why you should ask for clarification. BUT, keep in mind that most home inspectors are not qualified to tell you who should be responsible for completing the repairs. Your real estate agent is the most qualified to help you negotiate repairs in your new dream home.
3. Is this a common or “normal” problem?
Many problems that are discovered during the home inspection are common problems that can be easily remedied. At PLAN Inspections, we will take the time to explain if the problems discovered are something that you need to worry about or if they are common issues. Another recommendation is to ask your real estate agent to attend the inspection with you. They are a great resource and can be a sounding board between the inspector and the client. For example, when the inspector says, “I found two double tapped wires in the electrical panel and it’s is a safety hazard.” You can often then see the fear in the buyer’s face. A real estate agent can then say something to the inspector like “how often do you see this?” The answer, of course, is that it happens quite frequently. While it is something that needs be addressed, it’s not the end of the world and should not kill a real estate deal.
4. Will I need to hire an expert?
Some problems that are discovered can require a qualified expert for repair. The home inspector is a generalist, able to point out what problems exist. Most are not licensed or trained in all aspects of home repair. Electricians, for example, will be able to fully diagnose the cause of any problems and estimate the cost of repairs.
5. What should I fix when I move in?
There are many items found by home inspectors that could be fixed by the buyers after they take possession of the home and move in. Some will need to be addressed sooner than others. A leaky pipe, for example, should not be ignored. The longer it continues, the more expensive the repairs could become. In contrast, the cosmetic problems can be delayed until a later date. Repairs of certain problems should NEVER be delayed, such as:
· Mold – mold is something that should always be dealt with right away, especially if you have any kind of health problems.
· Lead paint – when you have children under the age of six years old living in a house it should be removed. In fact, lead paint removal is a federal law.
· Radon – radon is a health hazard when you are exposed to it over a long period of time. You should always have radon remediated to safer levels when they are found to be high.
· Any serious structural or mechanical defect.
· Any kind of safety hazard that could cause physical harm to you, your family or guests
Your home inspector can be an extremely valuable resource in your home buying journey. Always ask us questions. We are here to help you through the process. Feel free to reach out to us for any questions you may have.
As always, contact us at PLAN Inspections for all your home inspection needs!