Buying a home is one of the biggest investments you will make. It is important to understand and carefully navigate every step of the process to ensure that the property you pick is worth the price you’re paying.
Understanding the condition of your home is an important part of homeownership. So how do you get the most out of your home inspection? We’ll share what you should know.
What is a home inspection?
A home inspection is a visual examination of a property. A home inspector evaluates a home's condition based on its essential structures and systems, including foundation, HVAC plumbing, and electrical.
A home inspection will walk through the property and note all defects they find. After the inspection, they will provide you with a comprehensive report of their findings.
At Inspectify, we classify all defects into 3 categories: monitor, repair, and safety - this helps you know which issues you should prioritize.
An inspection typically costs anywhere between $300-$500. The actual cost depends on a range of factors, including the size of the property and the scope of the inspection. You can expect the inspection to take around 1-2 hours.
When should you get a home inspection?
A home inspection typically occurs during the due diligence period, after the seller accepts your offer and before the deal is officially closed. However, here are a few other instances that we recommend you can an inspection
What can you do to get your money’s worth during a home inspection?
Home inspections help you find and fix issues with your home. Here are a few tips to help you extract the most value out of your home inspection:
1. Add an inspection contingency to your offer
The first way to make sure you get the most out of your inspection is by including an inspection contingency when you make an offer on a home. This is a clause that allows the buyer to back out of the sale (and keep your earnest money) in the event that the home needs repairs that you aren’t willing to pay for.
A home inspection contingency clause requires an inspection before closing. It gives you the option to renegotiate the price of the home-based on any discovered repairs. It also allows you to back out of the contract if the seller is unwilling to renegotiate or you find too many defects that the seller did not previously disclose.
Contingencies are put in place to protect you, the buyer. By waiving your inspection contingency, you waive your right to negotiate the final cost based on the inspection.
2. Attend your inspection
Being present at the inspection gives you the opportunity to see the property through the eyes of an expert. There is only so much you can learn from looking at pictures and videos. Additionally, it allows you to familiarize yourself with the property.
Inspectors can walk you around the property and point out the location and functions of essential appliances, such as the HVAC systems, electrical panel, water heater, thermostat, and more.
Most importantly, attending the inspection allows you to address any questions and concerns you have and get immediate answers. It’s common to have a lot of questions (and fears) about the home. Attending the inspection helps you get your questions answered and put your mind at ease.
3. Ask plenty of questions
Perhaps one of the best ways to get the most out of your inspection is to ask as many questions as you can (to the inspector). Buying a home is one of the biggest purchases you’ll likely make. As such, you’ll want to make sure you understand your home.
During the inspection, if you see anything that concerns you, we always suggest asking the inspector. You should also ask clarifying questions if they explain an issue to you that you don’t understand. The goal of the inspection is to provide you with clarity and help you understand the property - so ask as many questions as you need to get there.
4. Review the report
Inspection reports may appear overwhelming at first, but it’s important to understand them and know how to use them.
Your home inspection report should typically include information on:
- A full list of all defects the inspector found
- An explanation of why each defect is an issue
- The severity of each defect found
- Risks of current damage or any potentially hidden defects
- If you should seek further input from a specialist
Below are some of the key issues you should look out for during your inspection:
- Water and moisture: Water damage is a major red flag as it can cause a host of other issues like leaks, stains, or structural damage. It also leads to mold, insects, and other bacteria.
- Structural integrity: If any issues are left unfixed, they can lead to long-term damage and safety hazards. While some cracks are standard, large, diagonal, or jagged cracks can indicate severe damage to the home’s foundation. The main places to look for cracks include basement walls and door frames, gaps between walls and floors, gaps around the window, etc.
- Roof: A roof provides overhead protection to your home and everyone living in it. If damaged, it can cause major issues like leaks and flooding from rains. You should look for signs of moisture in the ceiling, loose or missing shingles, cracks, rust, and excessive algae growth.
- Electrical and plumbing systems: Look for any exposed wiring, painted electrical outlets, aluminum wiring, or other electrical defects. It is best to consult an electrician to know more about the severity of the electrical damage. You should also check for clogged sewer lines, rusty pipes, water pressure, or any hidden leaks, and consult a plumber before committing to any repairs.
There is a lot of other information the inspection report will cover, but those are some of the most important. With Inspectify, you can expect to receive the inspection report within 12 hours of completing the inspection.
5. Determine the cost of repairs
If your home inspection uncovers major repairs, don’t panic. The first thing you should do is determine the severity and cost of repairs. You can find out what needs to be fixed urgently or if there are any immediate safety concerns.
After prioritizing the repairs, you should find out how much they will cost. Typically, that would entail calling up contractors and getting estimates on how much it would cost to get the work done. However, this is very time-consuming and might not be an accurate estimate.
One of the most effective ways to get estimates is by using Inspectify. When booking an inspection through Inspectify, we provide you with repair cost estimates for your entire inspection report. Need an inspection? You can schedule one here!
6. Renegotiate the closing price
After reviewing the inspection report and determining the condition of the home, you have the option to return to the seller and renegotiate the closing price based on the repairs needed.
However, it's important to consider the market conditions when renegotiating. In today’s seller’s market, it can be difficult to convince the seller to lower the closing price, unless the repairs needed are a serious safety concern. It’s best to consult your real estate agent when determining if you want to renegotiate.
7. Taking care of repairs
Another important part of maximizing the value of your inspection is to do the recommended repairs that the home inspection shows. There will usually be many smaller issues that you can fix yourself. By making sure your home is in its best condition, you will help it last longer and preserve its value.
8. Getting regular inspections
When you go to the dentist or get regular checkups on your car, you are preserving the life of your teeth and car. By ensuring it's in good condition, or fixing issues, you will make them last longer and be healthier.
The same goes for your house. Homes deteriorate over time, and defects will always develop. We highly recommend getting a regular inspection every 1-2 years, depending on the age of your home. This will help you address issues as they come up, preventing them from becoming larger and more expensive. It can also help you preserve the value and lifespan of your home.