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When to Have an Inspection Done

Congratulations! Your offer has been accepted and you’re well on your way to becoming a proud homeowner. But don’t get ahead of yourself with celebrating because now it’s time for the next step in the homebuying process: home inspections.

What Is A Home Inspection?

Simply put, home inspections are a visual assessment of your home’s structural integrity and mechanical systems. Home inspections are conducted by objective third-party professionals with vast knowledge on home conditions. Your home inspector will typically evaluate things like your home’s foundation, plumbing, electrical and occasionally your home’s exterior.

Do I Need A Home Inspection?

Although home inspections are usually optional, they are a highly recommended step in the homebuying process – and for good reason. Home inspections are a great way to learn all about a home’s performance and any potential work or repairs that need to be done.

While you can typically DIY a home inspection for any obvious issues – such as leaky pipes, cracked drywall, or a large tree too close to your foundation – it can be risky to forgo an official home inspection. They oftentimes reveal problem areas or parts of the home which will require some TLC. Additionally, home inspections can give you a better idea regarding the maintenance required for the property’s upkeep.

So, before you write off this step and fully commit to your dream home, keep in mind that home inspections will only help you make well-informed decisions about what could be the largest purchase of your life.

What Do Home Inspectors Look For?

Home inspections are usually purely visual – meaning, anything that isn’t readily accessible to your inspector probably won’t be evaluated during the inspection. Depending on your home, that can take attics, septic tanks, and some mechanical systems off the table.

Home inspectors also rarely comment on issues of aesthetic, unless they pose an immediate problem. For example, home inspectors won’t care about a water stain, unless that stain points to a larger issue with your home’s plumbing.

Other key things most home inspectors look at are:

  • Structural issues
  • Roofing damage
  • Electrical or plumbing problems
  • Pest infestation
  • HVAC issues
  • Water damage
  • General safety hazards

What you can expect to learn from home inspectors includes the lifespan of any major appliances or equipment, in addition to recommendations for any repairs or replacements that should be made.

How Much Do Home Inspections Cost?

Although the current market greatly influences the cost of having a home inspection done, the nationwide average for home inspections is $300 – $500. This figure is dependent on the size, location, and age of your home.

The cost of a home inspection also doesn’t include the price of any second opinions prompted by your inspector. For example, sometimes a home inspector will advise that you get a quote from a contractor or other home professional. Depending on who you contact, that quote could also cost you a bit more.

Who Pays For Home Inspections?

Generally, the buyer is responsible for bearing the cost of a home inspection. Buyers usually get professional inspections after there are under contract to buy a property and inspections open the door for further negotiations.

How Long Do Home Inspections Take?

Since it’s usually advised that you be present during the inspection process, it only makes sense to wonder how much of your day will be taken up by a home inspection. Home inspections typically last 2 – 3 hours as they are a head-to-toe inspection of your home.

But before the time commitment turns you off, home inspections are usually very hands-on and engaging. You should accompany your inspector throughout the walk-through assessment, and a good inspector will explain their observations to you in addition to answering your questions or concerns.

How Should I Choose A Home Inspector?

As in any other job field, home inspectors aren’t all created equally. In order to find a good inspector, consider checking out your local Better Business Bureau or utilize the American Society of Home Inspectors’ Find An Inspector resource.

The Bottom Line

Home inspections are an important part of the home buying and selling process. They can help you get to know a home better before buying, or help you learn more about the value of your home.

For more FSBO tips, check out our blog here.

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Home Inspection 101: Seller’s Guide To Getting Your Home Inspection-Ready

As you prepare to sell your home, you want your home inspection to go well and prevent any surprises on the day of your inspection. There are several ways to avoid potential nightmares such as expensive closing costs, additional renovations or even a withdrawn offer. Read on for tips on how to prepare your home and what to expect out of an inspection.

The First Step To Getting Your Home Ready

The first thing you’ll do when preparing your home for an inspection is to clean it. Your clean home will show the inspector that your home is well-maintained and cared for. It will set the expectation that the appliances and other elements that will be inspected are in equally good shape.

As you tidy up, you’ll want to make sure all the appliances are easily accessible for your inspector. This may mean moving some furniture or clearing a path to utilities such as water heaters. Inspectors aren’t required to move your belongings, so make sure there’s enough room to access various appliances and utilities that there’s no need to have to reschedule. Rescheduling will cost you and the buyer more time and money.

What’s Included In A Home Inspection?

The major things your inspector will look at are:

Physical Structures: This includes checking the driveway, garage floor, roofing, attic spaces and foundations for any major issues.

Interior Structures: In addition to the home’s physical structures, an inspector will look inside the home to assess the condition of the living spaces. They’ll look at the flooring, walls, doors and windows.

Major Systems: Your inspector will also perform running tests on the water systems in the home. In this procedure, they’ll turn on every faucet to test water flow, cold water output and hot water output. They’ll also test the refrigerator, dishwasher, oven, stove and all the toilets for basic functionality and performance.

Utilities: As part of the major systems check, your home inspector will assess and give you a detailed report on the quality of electrical lines in your home as well as your gas service.

Want an itemized list of what your inspector will inspect? Check out our comprehensive home inspection list here. This list allows you to do your own preliminary home inspection beforehand and fix what needs to be repaired.

Get The Most Out Of A Home Inspection With These Tips

Beyond being aware of what will be inspected and making sure that you present your home well, there’s more you can do to get the most out of your home inspection. Here are 10 steps for you to follow to ensure a smooth inspection process:

  1. Turn it on: Confirm that all of your services are turned on. This includes your water, electric and gas services. You may need to make phone calls to these providers to ensure that they’re up and running before the inspection. When your gas service is on, ensure that the pilot light is lit.
  2. Pets: Ensure that your pets won’t hinder the inspection. Some inspectors will ask that pets be removed from the home while they’re there. You may want to plan to have your pets secured outside or off the property during the inspection.
  3. Everything works: You may also want to replace burned-out lightbulbs to avoid a “light is inoperable” report that suggests an electrical problem. You should ensure that any electrical outlets are in working order as well.
  4. Working detectors: Replace any batteries in smoke detectors or carbon monoxide detectors and make sure they work. Most smoke and carbon monoxide testers have a “test” button to help you know they’re functioning properly.
  5. Air Filters: Ensure that all heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) air filters are clean and fit in their compartments properly. You may want to replace your filters before your home inspection.
  6. Pests: Avoid any red flags for bugs on your home inspection such as moving stored items, debris and wood from the foundation of your home as they’re a breeding ground for termites. If you’ve had pest issues in the past, you may want to have an exterminator look at your house before the inspector comes to make sure you don’t have any existing issues with pests.
  7. Utility access: Ensure that the inspector will have access to everything they need to assess. This includes the HVAC equipment, electrical service panels, water heaters, attics, crawlspaces and any other appliances in your home.
  8. Room access: Unlock any areas that your inspector needs to access. This includes the attic door or hatch, electrical service panels, the basement and any other doors or exterior gates. You’ll want the inspector to be able to access every area of your home.
  9. Lawn hazards: If you have trees in your yard, make sure that any limbs are at least 10 feet away from the roof. You may want to trim your shrubs and check that they’re not too close to your house. You’ll also want to remove any foliage that’s growing too close to the exterior because some foliage can hide pests or hold moisture against the exterior of your home. If necessary, hire a professional to remove any overgrowth in your lawn.
  10. Repair and replace: You’ll want your home to look well-maintained. Repair or replace any broken or missing items. This may include doorknobs, fixtures, locks and latches on doors, windowpanes or window screens. On the outside of your home this may include gutters, downspouts and chimney caps.

A typical home inspection lasts about 3 hours. Oftentimes, the home buyer will attend the home inspection as it’s likely the first time they’ll be seeing the home since putting in an offer and potentially the last time before their final walkthrough. Having the homeowner present during this inspection can be uncomfortable for not only your potential new buyer, but for the inspector as well. Our advice is to schedule the inspection at a time when you’ll be out of the house. This will help make your buyer feel comfortable and more at home.

It’s no secret that most home sellers share the same goal: Get the best possible offer for their home. Preparing your home to be inspection-ready will not only help ensure your potential buyer will stick around through closing, but it will also give you and your buyer peace of mind about your home’s value.

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FAQs Home Inspection

Buyers Beware: Termite Inspection Is a Vital Step

Buying a new home can be a stressful experience. You have checked out your neighborhood, your schools and your commute. You have some new furniture in mind. And you don’t want any hidden surprises in the future. A termite inspection is a necessary step that will allow you to enjoy your new home for many years to come — with no termite surprises.

Termites can damage wood in and around a home very quickly. The National Pest Management Association estimates over $5 billion of termite-caused property damage annually. Insurance rarely covers this damage.

Termites are usually found in the ground and in wood. They are rarely seen. You might see a mud tube or tunnel for an army of termites. Sometimes, swarmers or winged termites are seen in the spring when termites are looking for mates. These swarmers are a sign of a mature termite colony. Their job is to leave the colony, mate and start new colonies.

A qualified pest control inspector has the experience and knowledge of termite behavior to spot mud tunnels and other signs that termites are tunneling underneath. A thorough termite inspection will provide a report of existing damage and termites, as well as address whether your home is likely to have future termite problems based on the answers to a number of questions, including:

1. Does your home have a wood frame on slab?
2. How close to your home is your wooden fence?
3. How does water drain around your home?

A thorough termite inspection and assessment of potential future problems is a critical element in any home buying decision. For more information, or to schedule an inspection in the Long Island, NY, area, contact Suburban Exterminating. For other locations, you can find a professional through the National Pest Management Association.

Jason Byer is President of Suburban Exterminating, located in Long Island, NY.

This article has been republished for additional educational purposes. This article is not affiliated with any links or products that appear on the same pages. Read more about our editorial policy.

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Inspector Gadgets: 26 Areas to Check Before the Final Home Inspection

As soon as you and your buyer agree on a sale price, expect the buyer’s home inspector to come knocking at your door. Don’t be caught by surprise when the inspector appears with his tools of the trade. Do a home inspection beforehand, then fix what needs to be repaired.

Here’s a checklist from A to Z of the main areas in your home to inspect to make sure they are in proper working order.

Be sure your…

Heating/cooling system works properly

Hot water heater is fully functioning

Interior walls are free of cracks

Lights and other fixtures work perfectly

Windows and doors open and close with ease

Locks work properly

Alarm system is in good working order

Shower heads aren’t gummed up

Tub and tile caulk is free of mildew and cracks

Door bell or intercom systems are in working order

Caulking around windows is solid

Window shades and other window treatments are in good shape and work well

Weather stripping on doors is installed properly

Flashing around your chimney is in place

Chimney is capped (to keep critters out)

Fireplace is properly lined and clean (with fireplace screen in place)

Fireplace flue works

Dryer is properly ventilated

Washing machine drains efficiently

Gutters are clean, free of mold and attached properly

Overhead garage door opens with ease (Hint: if you don’t have an electronic garage door opener consider installing one)

Crawl space/basement storage is organized, free of mold and odorless

Sidewalks and driveway are not cracked and pavement is even

Staircase rails are affixed solidly

Electric outlets work

Faucets are drip free

You can also be proactive and pay for a certified pre-inspection of your home that may satisfy the buyer and get you to the closing table quicker.