Whether you’re just starting out on the hunt for the perfect home or are already buying a home, at least you’ve probably heard them mentioned: home inspectors.
Think of this as one of the last lines of defense before closing a house. By checking the health of appliances, checking for structural problems, and going through critical systems like plumbing and electrical systems, they issue a home health certificate letting you know it is safe to proceed with the purchase – or that it is time to resign.
We spoke to real estate professionals about hiring and working with a reputable home inspection company, as well as what to expect throughout the inspection process.
Everything you need to know about hiring a home inspector is here.
What is a home inspector?
“A home inspector is basically a professional ‘explorer,’” Realtor says Dylan Lennon. “Your job is to carefully examine the most important systems and to document any problems or deficiencies found.”
In addition to inspecting all structural aspects of a house such as walls, floors and roof, the inspectors are also responsible for examining the systems in the house. This includes everything from the installation in the bathroom to the smallest socket.
Your job is basically to make sure there is nothing wrong with the house, and if so, to record it.
What home inspectors are looking for
A good home inspector can spend hours or even a day combing every corner of a house.
In addition to checking the main systems, they also check the foundations of the house, its windows and doors, and the proper functioning of the heating and air conditioning. They look out for signs of termites or pests, or any other structural wear and tear that could compromise the interior of your home. They are also trained to find building inspectors or things that are not code compliant, which could cost you later when it is your turn to sell the house.
But a really good home inspector doesn’t just give you a yes-no checklist of what looks good and what doesn’t. They provide details about the current status of things like the water heater or HVAC system and when you might need to replace them.
“A good home inspector will determine the expected remaining life and general condition of all components and structural features of a home,” says real estate investor Tucker Long of Truepath properties. “They also identify all components that need to be repaired or further evaluated.”
Why do you need to hire one?
For buyers, you typically want to hire a home inspector once you’ve signed a contract with the seller. The inspection report will show you the exact condition of the home you are buying and whether or not it makes sense to do so negotiate the price based on what the inspector finds.
This is where having a good inspector by your side is really useful.
“Home inspectors provide a safety net for homebuyers who aren’t construction experts,” Long says. “They are trained to identify costly repairs and safety issues, both of which are easily overlooked by the untrained eye.”
If they encounter any problems, write down full details on their report which will then be forwarded to the seller and used for negotiation purposes.
“Hiring a home inspector can save a buyer a lot of money,” says Long. “If a problem is found, a buyer has the option to terminate the contract or ask the seller to make the necessary repairs. In most cases, an inspection usually pays for itself many times over if it encounters even a single unexpected problem. “
For example, let’s say a home inspector finds some clapboards on the roof that needs replacing, or a problem with the house’s septic tank. With Roof repairs cost an average of $ 900and septic problems start around $ 500 up to $ 5,000 – This makes the home inspector’s fee a worthwhile investment.
What does a home inspection cost? Generally about $ 200 to $ 500.
By identifying problems during the contract, you not only save money later, but also act as a basis for negotiation during the negotiations. Instead of paying thousands of dollars for out-of-pocket repairs, you can make an arrangement with your seller – either they will fix it, cover the cost by giving you cash back on the deal, or you can cancel the agreement.
How to Hire a House Inspector
First rule: find one you trust. Use caution when hiring an inspector through the seller. It is best to work with someone without a conflict of interest who can give you priority assistance and point out anything that is wrong with the house or property. Work with your real estate agent hire someone with the right license.
You should also review the inspector’s contract prior to the home inspection to make sure you understand exactly what they are looking for. While most inspectors have a standard list, it can vary based on location and accreditation.
“Reviewing the inspection contract before hiring an inspector can avoid a lot of heartache later,” says Lennon. “I got buyers to do inspections because they thought the inspector was marking cosmetic items only to find out later that cosmetic items rarely get inspected.”
Depending on your inspector’s qualifications, you may need to hire more than one person to do things like checking a sewer system or doing an in-depth look for signs of termites or other infestations.
Most contractual agreements contain a number of built-in safeguards for the buyer, also known as objections. These enable buyers to get out of the contract at various points in the process (without penalty). One is known as an appeal against the inspection and you want to have your inspection report on hand well in advance of the inspection appeal deadline to negotiate the results. This way you can easily terminate the contract if your seller is unwilling to meet your request.
Finally, it’s always a good idea to tour the entire lot of your new home at least once prior to the inspection. Make a note of everything that concerns you and forward these concerns to your home inspector beforehand. That way, you can be sure that all of your concerns (if the inspector thinks they are valid) will be recorded on the report for the seller to see – and you have the best possible chance of successful negotiations.
This article originally appeared on www.thepennyhoarder.com