What to Know About a Home Inspection When Buying a Home

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What to know about home inspection as a home buyer


As a homebuyer one of the most critical steps of the purchasing process is obtaining a home inspection.


At Guardian Mortgage, we’re here to help you every step of the way on your home-buying journey. Here, we’ve compiled the key elements of a home inspection to help you through this step of the home buying process. While each of these steps is important, they should not be overwhelming. The key steps include:

Step 1. Select a home inspector
Step 2. Schedule and attend your home inspection
Step 3. Review your inspection report
Step 4. Determine your next steps after the inspection report

With a team of professionals by your side, including your realtor and inspector, you’ll be able to make your home purchase knowing you’re aware of most large faults and with a plan to rectify them.


What is a Home Inspection?


A home inspection protects you, the buyer, from future trouble with your new home. Ideally, an inspector will discover anything wrong with the home during an inspection.


This allows you and the seller to determine how you will handle repairs before you finalize the purchase. At the very least, it gives you a better picture of the home you are purchasing and whether it is in working order or will need repairs down the road. So, even if you do wind up having to pay for these pre-determined repairs, knowledge is power and it’s best to know the full picture.


No one likes unwelcome surprises when purchasing a home. Having your home inspected in a timely fashion helps avoid these surprises, serving as a key advantage of a home inspection.


Let’s dive into the steps you’ll take during the home inspection process.


Step 1. Select A Home Inspector


There are many places you can look for home inspector recommendations, including:

But don’t just take someone else’s word as an end-all-be-all in your hiring process. Talk to the inspector yourself to learn more about his or her process, view sample home inspection reports, and determine for yourself if you think they will provide a thorough inspection. Consumer Reports offers a more detailed guide to selecting a professional home inspector, including where to put the most weight in your decision. In the end, it is up to you to hire a home inspector.


If you’re curious about what a home inspection should cost, it’s important to know it will vary depending on your location. According to the Home Buying Institute, the cost of a home inspection typically falls between $300 and $500.


Step 2: Schedule and Attend Your Home Inspection


Your home inspection will take place shortly after the seller has accepted your offer. You will want to have the home inspected as soon as possible, usually within a 10-day window. Typically, you will include a contingency in your offer regarding the results and outcomes of the inspection. So, don’t worry about making an offer before having the home inspected.


As the homebuyer, you are responsible for setting up the home inspection. While only the inspector needs to be present, we recommend that you accompany the inspector and walk through the home with him or her. This gives you a chance to ask questions along the way. Your real estate agent may also attend the home inspection.


What to Expect On Inspection Day


On inspection day, you and your home inspector will walk through the house looking at and testing various home components and making detailed observations. The idea is to make sure everything works correctly and safely. If it doesn’t, you can work on a plan for fixing it.


Using a home inspection checklist, your inspector will look at:

  • Safely and code compliance. According to an article in U.S. News and World Report article, code violations are more common than you may think. They include having adequate carbon monoxide detectors, improper plumbing and electrical installations, and safety measures like missing handrails.
  • Structural components, including the foundation, roof, and chimney(s).
  • Infestations, including mold, insects, or rodents. (Note this is only a visual inspection.)
  • Mechanical components, such as the HVAC system and appliances.
  • Plumbing and electrical systems.

While it’s important to know what is covered by a typical home inspection, it’s also important to know what is not covered. How Stuff Works shares 10 things home inspectors don't cover during their home inspections. For example, while the inspector will look for visual signs of mold or termites, he or she will likely not do an in-depth check for these. You would need a secondary, specialized, inspection if you feel it could be an issue.


Step 3: Review Your Inspection Report


After completing the inspection, your home inspector will deliver a full home inspection report for your review. This report will outline both minor issues and larger issues you may want to address before closing on your home. You and your real estate agent will want to look it over together to decide what to do next.


Step 4: Determine Your Next Steps After the Inspection Report


With the report in hand, you have a few choices. You can purchase the home as-is, ask for repairs to be made at the seller’s expense, or decide not to purchase the home.


If you decide to request repairs, you can negotiate with the seller on which party will pay for the repair. However, there are sometimes state laws (including seller disclosure laws) that mandate that the seller pays for the repairs.


When deciding what repairs to request, think about the cost of the repairs and the amount of work that will go into them. For example, if there are electrical or plumbing issues, we recommend asking the seller to pay. These fixes typically require an outside expert and impact the safety and usability of the home. However, if it’s a minor fix that you can accomplish on your own for less than $100, save your leverage for the bigger fixes.


Once you agree on the repairs, keep an eye on things to ensure the work is completed to your satisfaction before closing.


If the findings of the inspection report are especially negative, you may decide you don’t want to purchase the home at all. As mentioned before, purchase contracts typically allow you an “out” if you decide the home isn’t right for you after the inspection. The key is how you word your purchase contract, so be sure to discuss this with your realtor before putting in an offer.


No matter what results your home inspection turns up, the inspection is important and hopefully not too stressful. With your home inspection report in hand, you should hopefully have peace of mind because you know the key details about the home you are buying.


For more information on finding your dream home, speak to a Guardian Mortgage professional today.