Congratulations on your decision to purchase your first home!
This is an exciting and, at times, bewildering adventure. A home is likely to be the single largest purchase you will make in your lifetime, so it’s important to be aware and informed throughout the process. Here are some common questions you may have about home inspections as you prepare to buy your first home.
Q: Do I really need a home inspection?
Yes, you do. Home inspections can provide a necessary “sanity check” for first-time homebuyers. It may seem like yet another thing to spend money on during the homebuying process, but it is vital to have a complete picture of the condition of the property. A Home Inspector will not only be able to tell you about the current state of the house, but can also give you an idea about what kinds of expenses you may be facing to either repair or maintain it. This can be especially important if you are buying a home near the top of your price range. Knowing that a particular house may need a new roof or furnace in the near future could have an impact on your ability to afford it.
As the home buyer, you have an emotional connection to the property which might affect your ability to look beyond the surface and see important issues. A home inspector is impartial and has no vested interest in whether or not you purchase a particular property. While we can appreciate a home’s features, we are focused on how well it functions as a safe, durable shelter for its occupants.
Q: The seller already had a home inspection done and showed us the report. Why should we pay for another inspection?
A home inspection is a snapshot in time. Houses can (and do!) change. Systems can fail suddenly (well pumps are famous for this!), and sometimes there is no way to predict these failures. We will report on the condition of the house on the day we see it, and will also let you know which systems are nearing the end of their serviceable life. While we can’t predict when something will fail, your report will help you plan for necessary repairs and replacements, so you can figure them into your homebuying decision.
Q: We had the house appraised. Isn’t that the same thing as a home inspection?
An appraisal seeks to establish the value of the property; the home inspection is meant to determine the condition of the property. We aren’t interested in making any kind of determination about the property price, and appraisers are not trained to make determinations about the property condition.
Q: When is the home inspection performed?
Generally, the home inspection is performed shortly after the purchase contract is ratified. You will typically have between seven and 10 days after ratification to satisfy the conditions of the contract, which can include the home inspection, radon test, water quality test (if on well water), and septic test (if on private septic).
Q: What do I do with the home inspection report?
At the end of the home inspection, you will have your report in hand, along with printed pictures. With your permission, we will also give a copy to your Realtor. What happens next depends upon your contract with the seller. Sometimes you can present the findings to the seller and request either repairs or a price adjustment that reflects the work to be done. But sometimes the contract stipulates that the seller will not take any action as a result of the inspection; these are “information only” inspections and are meant to give you a picture of the property condition so you can decide whether or not to go ahead with the purchase.
Q: What should I do during the home inspection?
You should plan to be present during the home inspection. Ask lots of questions! We also highly recommend that you come without children or other family members. This is your chance to focus on the inspection process and learn what you need to know about owning and maintaining the house. We will be happy to point out locations of vital components such as the water and gas shutoff valves, filters, smoke and CO detection, and so much more. You are welcome to follow us into all the areas of the home; however, you will not be able to use our tools or ladders due to insurance restrictions.
Q: What happens after the home inspection?
If you requested the seller make repairs on issues found during the home inspection and you want to make sure they were done properly, we can do a re-inspection of those issues for a nominal fee. Telephone consultations are always free, and we are always happy to discuss the home inspection findings with you if you have questions.
Have more questions? Call our office at (301) 208-8289 and we’ll be happy to answer them.