Buying a house can be a stressful experience as many different factors should be considered in the purchasing process. Contemplating things like location, taxes and price are among some of the major deliberations a new home owner faces, but the biggest potential issue is often the integrity of the house itself. One of the best ways to determine if there are potential problems is to have a home inspection done by a qualified inspector. The inspector’s job is to look over all the major issues of the house – things such as the foundation, electrical outlets, appliances, plumbing and roof to determine if the home buyer will have any additional consequences to deal with. As a consumer trying to make a sound buying decision, understanding the condition of the house plays a major role in the amount of money that will be offered on the home as well as determining what items may need to be addressed prior to the purchase.
Skilled trades such as a plumber, electrician or pipefitter require years of schooling and experience. This is not the case with home inspectors. According to the National Association of Home Inspectors (www.nahi.org), the requirements to become certified as a home inspector are not the same throughout the U.S. For example, the requirements to become a certified Master Inspector in Nevada include such provisions as completion of high school, minimum 18 years old, 60 hours of approved education, passage of National Home Inspector Exam and successful completion of 400 fee paid inspections. Nevada also requires all certified Master Home Inspectors to carry general liability insurance and errors and omissions insurance. By contrast, the requirements in Illinois are completion of high school, minimum 21 years old, 60 hours of approved education and passage of the National Home Inspector Exam. Illinois does not require any insurance. (For more information about requirements by state, check out http://www.nahi.org/legislative/legislative-map/). Considering the amount of money a buyer typically has to shell out for a home purchase and the potential upkeep expenses, the home inspector has a giant responsibility to undertake on behalf of the purchaser. Taking into account the limited experience needed to become a home inspector and the buyers potential exposure to expensive repairs after the closing is complete, it’s a good idea to be aware of the home inspectors actions. Here is a list if things to consider during a home inspection:
- 1. Be at the home prior to the home inspector’s arrival. It’s a good idea to know the time the inspector arrives and leaves the premises to get an indication of the amount of work that is done. A fifteen minute inspection of a two story house probably indicates shoddy work.
- 2. Don’t be afraid to follow the inspector around as they conduct their inspection. Remember – the inspector works for you – their actions are protecting you and as such, they should not be afraid to answer any and all questions you may have.
- 3. Don’t be afraid to touch things in the house while the inspector is there. Consider opening and closing all doors to make sure they don’t stick and function properly – this includes closets and cabinet doors as well. Flush all toilets and run the hot and cold water from every faucet in the house.
- 4. If any appliances are included in the purchase such as washer, dryer, dishwasher, microwave or refrigerator – turn each and every one of them on and make sure they run. Some home inspectors won’t check appliances unless you ask them to, so speak up.
- 5. Bring a small plug in light with you to test each of the outlets in the house.
- 6. Don’t be afraid to take pictures and document anything interesting the inspector has to tell you during their visit.
- 7. If you notice anything questionable such as dark spots on the ceiling indicating possible leaks or any type of wall cracks – ask the inspector to look closely at them and give you their thoughts. Make sure these types of things are documented in the inspectors report as well.
- 8. Consider having a Radon test done if there is a basement. These tests usually add on some expense to the inspection but if Radon is found, the owner must then either fix it or disclose the issue to every potential buyer from that point forward.
An experienced and certified home inspector should go through the house with a fine tooth comb and make note of everything that could potentially be an additional expense for the buyer. The buyer should be able to assume the home inspector is capable and thorough in their work. Once the closing goes through and the buyer becomes the new owner, any issues discovered after the fact could be very costly and leave the owner with little recourse but to pay for any repairs out of pocket. There is nothing wrong with being aware and informed. Taking a few minutes of time to ‘inspect the inspector’ by asking questions and pointing out potential issues could be a very good investment of time that saves a lot of heartache and expense down the road.