Before you close on a home, it’s important to hire a professional to conduct an assessment of the property. That’s where home inspectors come in handy.
Not only can they help you identify potential problems with the house you’re about to own, but they also can provide you with information that will help you with its maintenance. Here are five mistakes to avoid when you’re getting a home inspection.
1. Not researching the inspector
A lot of buyers and sellers hire a home inspector who is recommended to them without doing any research. Toward that end, some questions you want to be sure and ask include:
• How long have you been inspecting homes?
• How many inspections have you done?
• What are your qualifications, certifications and training?
• What was your job before you were a home inspector? (An inspector should be familiar with home construction, so a background as a contractor or homebuilder is helpful.)
You also want a certified professional who keeps up with ongoing education. An inspector needs to be able to identify issues with a property and explain them to buyers who usually aren’t experts.
2. Not attending the inspection
Being present for the inspection may not be mandatory, but it’s a smart idea.
Simply reading the inspection report isn’t enough to give most homeowners the full picture, because if they don’t see it, they probably won’t understand it. The inspection might take an entire morning or afternoon, so set aside enough time.
Some inspectors will sit with you afterward to explain things and answer your questions. Be wary of home inspectors who won’t let you follow them around or ask questions.
A good inspector also can give you an estimate of how much you’ll need to spend on repairs and upgrades, which is very valuable information as you consider your budget.
3. Not reading the inspection report
Too many buyers and sellers just glance at the inspection report. Make sure you hire someone who uses clear, concise language in person and in written reports. You also might want to scan a few reports by checking the inspector’s website or asking for a sample report. A knowledgeable professional will state simply what’s wrong with the house and what it will take to fix it.
4. Not getting a presale inspection
Sellers sometimes decide to leave the presale inspection to the buyers. That can turn out be a mistake. When the buyers get an inspection, the sellers may have little time to complete repairs and keep the sale on track.
But if the seller has the home inspected before placing it on the market, there is more time to complete repairs, as well as to shop around and control the costs for the work.
Both buyers and sellers often wait too long to engage an inspector. You should find an inspector long before you have or make an offer on a home.
5. Not prepping the home
Inspectors can get annoyed when homeowners don’t prepare their houses for inspection—especially if they have to empty a closet to get into the attic, for instance. Similarly, if you have a crawl-space hatch, it’s a good idea to move anything sitting on top of it.
Got a lock on a utility closet, basement or shed? The inspector needs access, so open it or provide keys. To reduce the need for repeat inspections, hire professionals to do repairs.
Too many sellers will try to do repairs themselves or get them done inexpensively, but poor workmanship will show up during the follow-up inspection and could result in more repairs—and another inspection.