What Should You Ask Your Home Inspector?
We've focused some attention lately on things to expect when you buy a home, to include extra costs you might not have realized will come up. We've even dived deeper into those costs, detailing different types of inspections you might encounter.
So, what comes next? You've got the inspector right there, or perhaps the report in hand - is that all there is to it?
You should look at that as merely a signpost for what to do next. Using the information you've been giving, there are a series of things you will want to ask next:
- Can you explain this in more detail? Your inspector ought to explain anything to you on the report that you don't understand.
- How big a problem is it? This may help you sort out something that sounds deeply worrisome, from something that will merely be a quick DIY fix. If you've never been a homeowner before, it can be hard to know the difference. More than one prospective homeowner has tossed over a deal - even losing their Earnest Money Deposit - because something easily address turned up on the inspection, and the buyer lacked the experience and research to understand the scope of the problem.
- Can you recommend a local expert for this problem? Inspectors often know the local tradespeople well, and can be a good resource for you on this front. (You can also rely on Dupuis Team's Recommended Contractor database!)
- Is this normal wear and tear, or a bigger issue? The answer to this question is important for two reasons. If it's normal wear and tear - well, that's to be expected, and shouldn't be taken as a sign that anything else in particular, has been treated overly hard. It will also give you an idea about how long the replacement might last (and so an idea how long your investment in that repair ought to stretch.) But if the inspector feels the item in question should have lasted longer - you will need to take a harder look at everything in the home. Has it all been treated harshly? (Conversely, you may luck into a situation where your inspector feels something is in wonderful condition for its age - that's great and bodes well for the condition of the home you're buying, but be aware that the means you'll be up against replacement times soon.)
- Can you tell me how to maintain this? The classic example is encountering your first big HVAC system, after having been a renter of a small place with simple systems. You ought to get a few tips here about frequency of cleaning, typically upkeep, and when to call in a pro.
- What would you fix first? Of course you wouldn't know how to triage the issues with the house. You've never had one before! Your inspector won't know what your budget priorities are after you move in of course, but can recommend what is most pressing, vs. what you'll be safe putting off for awhile.
- What are your biggest concerns with the property as a whole? This will hopefully take into account any larger issues such as grading, flimsy retaining walls, paved/landscaped areas, and so on - while you may consider that they are outside the residence and can wait, they also can be among the most expensive things to fix.
- Are there any warranties still in effect on anything in the house? This may or may not be outside the scope of your inspection (or perhaps your seller is offering one) but it may also help you decide about purchasing an additional warranty with the home.
Your home inspection is one of the most valuable tools you have at your disposal, and they aren't inexpensive in the first place. By all means, you should avail yourself of all the information possible.
DupuisTeam founder Stephanie Dupuis produced a video this week that also relates to Inspection, and it's worth including here, as a point of eduction for the inspection process. Her remarks largely deal with the back and forth of negotiation surrounding inspection, which you can think of as the step after the one covered in this post (making sure you understand everything in the report.)
If we can assist you with your next real estate transaction, please give us a call at Dupuis Team today!