Your home purchase is one of the biggest investments of your life, and it's important to know exactly what you're buying. The best way to ensure this is through a professional, thorough home inspection.
(NOTE: While this material speaks primarily to buyers, it's also a good idea for sellers to do an inspection prior to listing their home.)
In your excitement to buy a home, it's easy to miss a small crack in the foundation, some leaky pipes under the house, or a roof that needs to be replaced.
The sellers worked hard to make the home look as desirable as possible, but looks don't tell the whole story. That's where your home inspection comes in.
For sellers, a home inspection is also a good idea prior to listing the home for sale. An inspection can help you turn up issues ahead of time so there will be no surprises when serious buyers start inquiring. Knowing in advance means you'll be able to consider all your options – either making repairs before listing or pricing your home to account for anything you're not going to fix.
For more information about inspections for home sellers, see the Tips on Selling a House.
A general home inspection will evaluate the house and adjoining structures from top to bottom, inside and out, including but not limited to:
Roof, porches, driveways, garage, drainage, retaining walls, grading, and plants or vegetation that may impact the home's condition.
Electrical and plumbing systems; foundation; heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems; water heater, septic system, electrical system, windows, doors, floors, ceilings and walls.
The home inspector can't make any alterations in the course of inspecting a home – so there’s no digging up the ground, lifting carpets, knocking out walls, etc.
Also consider that a home comprises tens of thousands of parts, pieces, nooks and crannies. An inspector will look at a representative sampling, but there's simply no way to check every single element.
RE/MAX Home Inspection Tip: Many home inspectors know about major appliance recalls, but do your own research by noting model numbers and then checking for trouble online.
RE/MAX Home Inspection Tip: If an area of the house is not accessible because of barricades, such as boxes piled in front of a door, request that the seller remove these to allow for a thorough inspection.
Some states and cities require additional inspections on top of a general inspection. Beyond that, you may just want a specialized inspection due to a special circumstance or particular concern you or your general inspector may have.
Examples of specialized inspections:
RE/MAX Home Inspection Tip: Check with your agent to see which inspections are required in your area and which may not be required, but are standard.
RE/MAX Home Inspection Tip: If a home inspector tells you not to attend the inspection, find someone else. This is a classic red flag.
Here are 7 common problems that general home inspections bring to light.
7. Dry rot:
Home Inspection Myth: You don't need a home inspection for a newly constructed home. Not so. Property defects come up on new construction all the time. Just because the house is new doesn't mean it was built properly.
Home Inspection Myth: You don't need a home inspection if you're buying a home warranty. Home warranties rarely cover everything. You'll want to know of any potential problems before your closing so that you the seller can take care of them.
Easily fixed pipes or a few outdated electrical outlets are no reason to back out of a deal. However, other issues that come up during a home inspection should give you pause to think about whether or not to proceed.
Here are some red flags that warrant closer attention.
RE/MAX Home Inspection Tip: Condo or co-op boards pay for many repairs, but remember that the costs will get passed on to you eventually – so it's good to know the building's overall condition from the start.
Attend your home inspection to see first-hand what the inspector notes, and learn some important details about the house — like how to use the water, sprinklers, heater, electricity, etc.
When attending your inspection: