A couple of weeks ago I wrote an article What Every Mortgage Originator Wish Their Home Buyers Knew. It was wildly popular article and I thought I would follow up with What Every Home Inspector Wished Their Home Buyers Knew.
As part of the home buying process, you should have a home inspection. This is really your opportunity to get a good overview of the house. Home inspectors will lay out the condition of the house as it sits, as well as explain short term and long term maintenance you should probably consider.
Six home inspectors, locally and across the country, have answered the question of what every home inspector wish their home buyers knew.
There is some great information here if it is your first time buying a home. The underlying take away is this is your time to get to know the house.
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What Is A Home Inspector?
Before jumping into what every home inspector wish they buyer knew, let’s define what a home inspector is.
A home inspector is a trained professional who evaluates the condition of residential properties. They may or may not be licensed by the state to conduct business as a home inspector. Not every state requires an inspector to be licensed.
Their primary role is to conduct a thorough inspection of a home, identifying any potential issues or deficiencies that may affect its value, safety, or functionality. Home inspectors assess various aspects of a property, including its structural integrity, electrical and plumbing systems, heating and cooling systems, roof, foundation, and overall general condition.
During a home inspection, the inspector carefully examines both the interior and exterior of the property. They may use specialized tools and equipment to aid in their assessment, such as moisture meters, thermal imaging cameras, and carbon monoxide detectors. The inspector then provides a detailed report outlining their findings, including any areas of concern or recommended repairs or improvements.
What Six Home Inspectors Wished Their Home Buyers Knew
I have asked 6 Home Inspectors to comment on what they wished every home buyer knew about home inspection. And, there is some great info here for home buyers to know. Thanks for all the input.
Brett Maloney- Indian Rock Inspections, Middleton MA
- 1- A home purchase is probably the biggest investment you will make. You want to accompany the inspector during the home inspection. I tell my clients to figure an hour per 1,000 square feet of home. A 2,500-square-foot home usually will take 2.5 hours to inspect. This is time well spent; you will learn the “inner workings” of the installed systems of the home and receive maintenance tips and suggestions from the inspector. Please leave the children with Grandma and Grandpa or hire a babysitter. The inspector would like your full attention as much as you want theirs.
- Home inspectors are “Generalists”. We are not experts. Think of your home inspector as you would think of your family doctor (generalist). During your yearly physical examination, your family doctor detects an issue with your heart. You would want your doctor to refer you to a cardiologist (specialist). Your home inspector is trained to find issues with the home that will require further evaluation by licensed, qualified contractors (specialists). Such as: Electrician, Plumber, Mason, Carpenter or Structural Engineer.
- Follow the recommendations made by the inspector, especially if it is a big-ticket item. If the inspector suggests a maintenance issue, such as caulking around the windows and doors, something like that can usually wait until after you are in the home. If the inspector suggests that you contact an HVAC contractor to evaluate further the furnace heat exchanger (a faulty heat exchanger is a big-ticket item), you would want to do that while you are still able to negotiate with the sellers.
- Read the entire Home Inspection Report, not just the summary. There is important information about the home you are purchasing in the report’s body that doesn’t end up in the summary. The summary will list major defects or items that need repair. The inspector often offers maintenance tips, observations and suggestions that do not always make it to the summary.
- If you have any questions about the report, contact the Home Inspector sooner than later. Please remember your home inspector will inspect an average of 5 to 10 homes a week, so it is essential to ask your questions while the home is still fresh in the inspector’s memory. When asking the inspector questions, it is always best to have the report in front of you.
Brett has been in the construction and real estate industry for over 35 years. He has a background in real estate development and homebuilding. He is a native of Massachusetts and is familiar with the unique architectural features of New England construction, whether he’s inspecting historical colonials or newly built homes. Br ett is a member of both: ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors) and InterNACHI (International Association of Certified Home Inspectors). He is the Owner of Indian Rock Inspections, LLC located in Middleton Massachusetts.
John Ward- The Homestead Report Tewksbury MA
Most home buyers do not fully know what is involved in the home inspection process. A home inspector will comment on the condition of the property at the time of inspection. This is a visual inspection only.
Also, realize as a home inspector, I can only comment on what I can see. I cannot necessarily spot problems that are buried in a wall, in an attic with no access, etc…
As a licensed home inspector, I cannot quote prices for upgrades and repairs.
How much does this cost?… is asked daily while I do a home inspection.
I am also not allowed to put a “grade” on the house or offer the fair market value of the home. As a home inspector, I am only there to give you an overview of the systems, structure and health of a home. Not whether you should buy the house or not.
During the home inspection process, my clients get a lot of information about immediate, short term and long-term maintenance issues and upgrades, as well as general information about the systems and structures of a home.
On the list for concerns with a house.
- Water in the basement.
- Structural issues, cracks in foundations, rotted framing members.
- Termite and carpenter ant damage.
- Mold in the basement or attic.
- The energy efficiency of heating systems.
- Rodent activity, large and small.
- Lead paint issues or hazardous material.
- Condition of the roof?
- Don’t forget to test for radon in the home as well.
- and more…
Come prepared with a list of concerns you might have so your home inspector can address those concerns. Don’t be afraid to ask questions during and after the home inspection.
John Ward, The Homestead Report
Cristhian Perez- Home Check Inspections, Tampa FL
I wish my clients knew that hiring the cheapest home inspector can cost them a lot more in the long run. When buying a home you want the best home inspector you can find, not the cheapest.
The old saying is true; you get what you pay for. Your home inspection is your last line of defense to ensure you buy a safe and sound home.
Unfortunately, many clients choose what inspector to hire based on the home inspection cost. Instead, home buyers should consider the home inspector’s experience and qualifications. An experienced inspector will be better able to find major defects that could be costly.
Buyers might have to spend a little bit more for an experienced inspector, but the wealth of information they will receive in return will help them make a much more informed buying decision.
Cristhian Perez is a Certified Professional Inspector with Home Check Inspections– a home inspection company serving Tampa and surrounding areas. Home Check Inspections specializes in residential real estate Inspections. Their mission is to help home buyers understand the real condition of their homes. Home Check Inspections 813-261-0002
Matthew Rivera- The Inspection Boys, Suffolk and Nassau Counties NY
I wish all my buyers took advantage of their time at the house.
Inspections generally take between 1-3 hours. The process is generally crazy up until the inspection. In a busy market, buyers place multiple bids and sometimes compromise.
While we perform our inspection this is their time to take measurements, look at rooms, plan their layout, and test appliances.
After the inspection is complete and contracts signed they won’t generally have an opportunity like that again.
I have had clients bid on 3 or 4 houses over a weekend. One accepts their offer and they schedule a home inspection.
When we arrived they realized it was a 3 bedroom, not 4 bedroom and it wasn’t the house they thought they bid on.
During the home inspection, we try to check every possible corner. We are able to point out key components of the house, such as the water main, main electrical breaker, and areas of concern.
Matthew Rivera- The Inspection Boys
Michael Marlow- Veteran Home Inspections, Bandera Texas
Home inspectors do not have a crystal ball, and we cannot predict what will fail and when! A home inspection is just a snapshot in time that will help you understand the property’s condition when we inspect it.
Part of home ownership is ongoing maintenance, which will involve significant expenses when major systems like the roof, HVAC, or water heater need to be replaced. We do our best to tell you what items are nearing the end of their normal life expectancy, but we can’t tell you when something will fail. For example, an AC Compressor (the outside unit) has a life expectancy of about 12-15 years. I have personally replaced units that were only 7 years old, and I have seen units that were 32 years old and still going strong.
Just because we note something in the inspection report, doesn’t mean the seller has to fix/replace it. This is up to you and your real estate agent to negotiate. I get a lot of questions about this one, and it normally is some variation of: So, they have to fix that.
A real estate transaction is a long negotiation, and everything is negotiable. While I have had sellers agree to address every discrepancy noted in my report, those cases are rare. Most of the time it involves a bit of give-and-take.
Your real estate agent is the expert negotiator and should be the one to help you work with the seller to find a happy medium for what will be fixed, what you get credit for, and what will not be addressed. One thing I have personally done, and recommended, is this: Make three lists one of the items you must have fixed or you’re not going to buy the house. One with the items you’d like to be fixed, but if they aren’t it won’t stop the deal. And the third is items you don’t care if they are addressed. Use this list to help you build your repair request list that you send over to the seller for negotiation after the home inspection
Also, send over the entire home inspection report so they know you didn’t request everything (if you left some stuff off).
We cannot see behind walls. Unlike a certain TV personality, you don’t own the house yet, so we can’t bust open walls or tear up the flooring to see hidden issues. This is most likely going to be things like foundation issues, especially in houses with finished basements. There are clues we may get, but without seeing the foundation, we can only make an educated guess.
New construction doesn’t mean the house won’t have issues. I have inspected hundreds of new construction houses and have yet to find one that didn’t have issues.
The most common issues are with electrical and plumbing. I frequently find homes missing Ground Fault and/or Arc Fault protection missing in required areas, receptacles without power, plumbing leaks from drywall nails or unglued pipe connections, and drains clogged with construction debris. Roofs are frequently damaged or installed incorrectly, sometimes requiring a full replacement. I’ve even found attics without insulation.
Builders will often tell buyers there is no need to have an independent inspector since the city/county has already inspected it. These inspectors only inspect to minimum code and only spend a few minutes at each house. Many areas do not even have code enforcement outside of major cities, so only the builder has “inspected” the house.
Make sure you understand the warranties that the inspector offers. Some inspectors don’t offer any warranties, but some offer limited warranties. Read the policies your home inspector sends to you so you understand what is covered and what isn’t. We offer these warranties because we understand that stuff does break. Buying a house and moving is a very expensive endeavor, and these can help some with the expenses of a surprise repair. (The warranties we offer and the policies are on our homepage).
After almost 21 years in the U.S. Navy, Mike formed Veteran Home Inspections in 2013. His company is a full service Home Inspection company serving San Antonio, TX and the surrounding Hill Country area. Veteran Home Inspections 210-202-1974
Jason Irish- Monadnock Home Inspections, Southwestern NH
- I wish my home buyers knew I am looking out for their best interest. I am there for them to answer any questions before, during, and after the home inspection. I always keep my buyer’s best interests in mind and give them sound educational advice; after all, that is precisely what they are paying me to do.
- I wish my buyers knew that I can not predict the future. On some occasions I can give the life expectancy of specific components and systems of the home. However, preventive maintenance and weather conditions play a significant factor in just how long some of these components and systems will last.
- Every so often, I have a client ask why I charge so much money, which is typically only between $300 and $400. My answer is simple….I have spent my entire adult career in the construction and preventive maintenance industry to gain the knowledge I now have regarding home construction and home maintenance. I also take continued educational courses consistently to keep up with the ever changing standards and practices of home construction. A quote from Picasso….. The story goes that Picasso was sitting in a Paris café when an admirer approached and asked if he would do a quick sketch on a paper napkin. Picasso politely agreed, swiftly executed the work, and handed back the napkin — but not before asking for a rather significant amount of money. The admirer was shocked: “How can you ask for so much? It took you a minute to draw this!” “No”, Picasso replied, “It took me 40 years”
- I wish My home buyer knew that it takes time for certain test results to come back. I generate my home inspection report within 24 hours and list all defects with color photos and descriptions. However, it typically takes 5 working days for me to get well water and radon air tests back from the lab. I always tell my buyers the time frame of these tests but I think with all the excitement that is going on with the purchase of a home, it sometimes falls on deaf ears and I sometimes get a call from the buyer looking for test results the day after the inspection.
- I wish my client knew that EVERY home would have some defect, big or small. Even newly constructed homes can have defects. I recently had a buyer who was reluctant to hire a home inspector on a “newly constructed home” It turned out to be a great decision on her part to hire me as I found that the roof covering was installed with busted and torn asphalt shingles on the back side of the home, something that would have gone unnoticed unless I had been there to get up on the roof, as it was not visible from the ground. My buyer was quite pleased that she had spent the extra money to have me inspect her new construction. The builder had to repair the roof covering, saving her a great deal of money in the long run. Her quote “Money well spent”.
Jason has been a licensed home inspector since 2014. He brings a wealth of knowledge with his construction and building and grounds maintenance background. MHI also offers water and radon resting. MHI serves all of southwestern New Hampshire. Monadnock Home Inspections 603-554-4132
How To Find A Massachusetts Home Inspector
Finding the right Massachusetts home inspector is essential in successfully buying a home. While it can be a daunting task a good home inspector can make or break your home purchase.
Home Inspectors Near Me
Start by googling “home inspectors near me.” You will get a long list of home inspectors in your area.
Once you get the list cull out the inspectors with poor reviews and don’t have a professional online appearance.
Seek Suggestions From Friends of Family For Home Inspectors
Chances are, you’ve got folks in your circle—friends or family, maybe—who’ve had their homes inspected not too long ago.
Well, why not tap into that valuable resource? Reach out to them and pick their brains about their encounters with home inspectors. Find out if they had a top-notch experience that left them feeling satisfied and confident about their choice.
Search The Directory of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI)
There is a directory of where you can get a list of member inspectors at ASHI. Consider only hiring only home inspectors that are members of ASHI.
The American Society of Home Inspectors hold their member to a higher level that will ultimately benefit the consumer.
Recommendations from your REALTOR
If your REALTOR is representing you as a buyer’s agent they will have specific recommendations on a home inspector. If you have a great working relationship with your agent, then you will most likely like anyone they recommend,
Once you have compiled your list from different sources, research and pick the best home inspector you can find.
Hire the best home inspector you can when it comes time to inspect the home you are about to purchase. Now is not the time to price shop; you have much at stake.
Develop good communications with your home inspector. Make sure you have a full understanding of what the home inspection encompasses and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Your home ins[pection is your last line of defense in buying a great home. Make the most of it.