Being involved in the sale or purchase of a home can be a stressful experience. Having a home inspection conducted is also just as stressful.
Homeowners getting a pre-sale inspection done may find issues that may put a dent in their expected sale price. Similarly, for buyers, finding a seemingly perfect home and then finding deal breaking issues in the home inspection report is no less than a nightmare.
With that said, the ultimate objective of a home inspection is to safeguard the interests of the seller and the buyer by helping both parties make an informed decision.
The truth is, no home is perfect. Even newly built properties have hidden flaws that can affect the sale or purchase decision. This means, a home inspection only reveals the issues and flaws that are already there at your property.
However, home buyers and sellers that don’t fully understand a home inspection have several apprehensions regarding the same.
In this article, we will try to alleviate some of your apprehensions. Let us begin by understand what a home inspection is:
What Is A Home Inspection
In the simplest possible terms, a home inspection is a visual inspection of a residential property that is aimed at revealing property issues related to health, safety, and mechanical and structural integrity. \
Besides determining if the residential property lives up to the building code and standards laid out by the local authorities, the objective of a home inspection is to look for parts and components of a home that are degraded, deficient, unsafe, and nearing the end of their service life.
Home inspections are generally of the following two types:
- Buyer’s Home Inspection: As the name suggests, a buyer’s home inspection (or a pre purchase home inspection) is undertaken by a buyer before finalising on the purchase decision. The objective of such a home inspection is to look for issues in the property that may cause problems to the new owners. Depending on their severity and significance, a home buyer can ask the seller to fix them before the sale is completed. The other option for the buyer is to ask the seller to knock off the cost of repairs from the home’s selling price. In rare cases, the issues found during the home inspection are so serious that they turn into deal breakers.
- Seller’s Home Inspection: A seller’s home inspection, also known as a pre-sale home inspection is undertaken by a property owner that is planning to sell their property. The objective of such an inspection is to find the issues in the property that can affect the sale price or can act as potential deal breakers. With this information, a seller is able to set the right expectations from the sale of the property and can determine an asking price that doesn’t drive potential buyers away. A pre-sale home inspection can also help a seller shorten the time it takes to sell their property.
In both cases, home inspections are a surefire way to avoid unpleasant surprises during the home buying and selling process.
Now that we understand what a home inspection is, let’s understand how it is conducted.
The Process Of Conducting A Home Inspection
After the home inspector arrives at the property at the predetermined time, they meet the agent and the buyer, and begin the property inspection outside the property.
A home inspector checks the following things during a typical home inspection:
Structure and Foundation
Most home inspections begin with an inspection of the foundation of the home. The inspector will use crawlspaces and the attic to look for damage in parts like the foundation, the floor, and the wall structures. Anything ranging between cracks and water damage will be reported.
The area surrounding a structure is also a part of the property and may be home to safety hazards. During an exterior inspection, the inspector will look for safety and structural issues in areas like porches and decks.
An exterior inspection will also include checking for the condition of drainage pipes, doors, railings, floor boards and any other components that make a home’s exterior.
Roofing and Drainage
While the roofing system of any home is part of the exteriors, its condition is usually assessed in a dedicated inspection. The report of this inspection is also usually included separately in the home inspection report.
The roofing is perhaps one of the most expensive parts of any property. A roof inspection will involve looking for water damage, sealant damage, leaks, and of course, structural integrity.
The roof drainage system is also usually checked along with the roof. This is because the drainage system plays a critical role in keeping the roof protected from the damage caused by extended exposure to natural elements.
Contrary to what many may think, an interior inspection does not include checking for flaws. The most pressing objective of a home inspection is to look for issues that may evolve into safety hazards.
An interior inspection will include checking for water damage to the walls, any damage to the floor, checking if the windows are in working condition and well-insulated.
Faults in the electrical system of a home can easily turn into a safety nightmare. This is why checking the electrical systems of a home is important.
An inspector usually tells you the service box rating, while also describing the condition of electrical outlets and information about the panel box items that don’t comply with the electrical requirements of modern electronic appliances like electric dryers and heating systems.
A home inspection also involves the inspection of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems installed at the property. The inspector will check the approximate age of the appliances, along with any signs of physical damage.
A home inspector will also check the condition of the pipes, fauces, tanks, chimneys, fuel tanks, and pumps installed at the property. The plumbing inspection will also include the inspection of the pipes and will focus on the materials used and signs of damage.
Insulation and Ventilation
A standard home inspection will also include checking for the type and amount of insulation material in the unfinished areas of the property (like the attic). The home inspector will also check if the various ventilation systems are in functioning condition.
Those are a lot of things to inspect. Now that we know what to expect from a home inspector, let’s see try to answer another common question:
How Long Do Home Inspections Take?
The answer to this question depends on mostly one variable- the size of the property. With that said, the average time taken to inspect a property of 2,000 square feet can take anywhere between one and four hours. After the inspection, a home inspector may take between 3 and 5 days to get back to you with the report.
The size of the property also influences the amount you will be paying for the home inspection. The cost of a home inspection also varies greatly in different areas. The national average cost of a home inspection stands at $327.
Besides bearing the cost of the home inspection, home owners and sellers have additional responsibilities during a home inspection. Now that we know how a home inspection works, let’s see what role you have to play in the whole process.
Your Role During A Home Inspection
Buyers and sellers both have roles to play during a home inspection. Here’s what they look like:
The Role Of A Seller
The selling party can play a crucial role in cutting down the time it takes to inspect their property and making the home inspection process smoother. Sellers can take the following steps to prepare their home for the inspection:
If you know of any existing issues in your property, it is wise to get them fixed before a buyer’s inspection. It is also a smart move to get a seller’s inspection done. This way, you can avoid any surprises while negotiating with a potential buyer and maintain control of what you want to do with your property.
Prep The Property
Before the inspection, it is a good idea to call professionals cleaners to clean up your property. Not only would this make a positive impression on a potential buyer, it will also help you reduce the number of issues that will be highlighted during the buyer’s inspection.
At this stage, it is also advisable to collect and arrange your home remodelling documents so that the home inspector can use them as a reference.
The Role Of A Buyer
While it is not mandatory for a buyer to be present during the inspection, it is strongly recommended. By being present during the inspection, you can get a firsthand description of the condition of the property. You will also have a chance to ask any questions that may arise during the inspection process.
A conversation with the home inspector will also enable you to better understand and assess the home inspection report.
Why A Home Inspection Is Not A Matter Of Pass/Fail
As you may have realised by now, a home inspection is a visual examination of the condition of the house. Any issues found during the inspection don’t indicate whether a house has ‘failed’ or ‘passed’ the inspection.
Instead, a home inspection is a feedback on the condition of a property. The feedback is supposed to guide sellers to decisions that will make it easier to sell their property. These can be anything between reducing the asking price for the property to getting repairs done.
At the same time, a buyer’s inspection report is aimed at helping the buyer ensure they know everything about the condition of the property that they are investing into. As long as both parties are satisfied with the property’s condition expressed in the report, the sale goes forward.
However, in the case of a disagreement, one of the following three things can happen:
The Buyer Backs Off From The Deal
If the buyer finds the issues revealed during a home inspection too overwhelming, they may call off the deal. Once a house goes under contract, the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) will list the house as ‘under contract’.
If the sale falls through, the same will be reflected in the MLS. If that happens, other prospective buyers may develop apprehensions about the property, owing to the failed sale.
It is to avoid such situations, a seller’s home inspection is recommended.
A Negotiation Takes Place
This is the most likely outcome out of the three. After looking at the home inspection report, a buyer usually tries to negotiate using the issues as a leverage.
At this point, the seller is usually given the option of reducing the cost of repairs from the asking price of footing the expense of the repairs.
The Seller Brings In Their Own Expert
This is an uncommon but possible outcome. When a seller does not agree with the findings of the inspection conducted by the expert hired by the buyer, they can bring in their own expert to confirm said findings.
If both parties cannot come to an agreement, the seller has the right to deny the requests of the buyer. This is usually only an option when a seller has multiple prospective buyers for the property.
By now, you must know everything you need to know about the purpose and process of a home inspection. While an inspection is aimed at finding issues and faults, it is ultimately a simple way to make the sale process of a home smoother and transparent.