A home inspection is a critical part of buying a home. Without an inspection, you could easily pay too much for a property in need of unseen repairs. The structure may also pose dangerous health risks, safety hazards or building code violations, which could jeopardize your family’s health and dent your bank account. But how do you find a reputable professional to inspect a home? Here are some tips to help you choose a knowledgeable, honest home inspector.
- Get a reference from your agent. If you have an experienced real estate agent, he or she should be able to recommend a reputable home inspector. A good agent should be very familiar with at least one or two home inspectors who will go through a home with a fine-tooth comb. Trustworthy agents won’t worry about whether choosing a “tough inspector” will comprise a sale; they will put their client’s best interests first and ensure that every detail of a home is revealed according to local and federal guidelines.
- Ask if you can tag along. It’s always a good idea to attend your home inspection. A good inspector will be happy to talk you through any issues as they are investigated. If the inspector won’t let you come along, look for someone else. Also, since time is of the essence when it comes to home inspections, be sure the inspector agrees to provide the report within an acceptable timeframe (24 hours is common).
- Find a company that is insured and bonded. Whether you go with a single inspector or a big company, make sure whoever examines the home is both insured and bonded. It may sound unlikely, but an uninsured home inspector could try to hold you or the homeowner liable if they happen to be injured during the inspection.
- Verify that the company only does inspections. Some home inspection companies also provide home repairs and renovations. This gives them an incentive to flag problems in a home. Avoid conflicts of interest by choosing a home inspection company that’s focused entirely on inspections. If you are interested in the cost of renovations or repairs, bring in an independent contractor after the inspection is completed.
- Ask what the inspection will include. It’s important to ask what the inspection will include and how long it will take. A good home inspection should involve a thorough look at every critical component of the home, including:
- Electrical system
- Plumbing system
- Structural condition
- Heating and air conditioning
- Attic and roof
- Foundation and basement
- Pests (including bugs and wildlife)
- Evidence of grading issues and water penetration
- Appliances and other various general components
- Environmental issues such as radon, mold, lead paint and asbestos
Knowing what an inspector will look for allows you to shop around. Certain inspectors may only address the structure and nothing more, while others will take a more comprehensive approach. Make sure you know exactly what you will be getting before you agree to an inspection.
Things to Consider
When choosing a home inspector, it’s important to know what to expect. The typical home inspection will be a “visual only” appointment. The inspector will spend a few hours scanning the property for visual signs that something is amiss. That said, they aren’t going to tear off pieces of drywall to inspect for mold or dismantle a water pump to check for defects.
Depending on the home’s location and age, you may have reason to worry about radon, termites or mold, but inspecting for these issues will usually cost you more. Be sure to ask if the inspection will include a search for these problems; if not, ask whether the inspector will include these items and how much extra they will charge.
Most home inspections should take around two to three hours to complete. If you are buying a larger home, an older home or a fixer-upper, the inspection could take even longer. Never hire someone who says they can complete the inspection within only an hour or two. Even an experienced inspector won’t be able to do a thorough job in such a brief time span.
If you’re interested in buying a home, The Wheaton Team can help. For nearly 20 years, we’ve specialized in residential real estate in all of Colorado Springs and El Paso County. With more than six decades of combined experience, our award-winning real estate professionals can guide you through the complicated buying process so they can find the home of their dreams. To speak with one of our agents, contact us today!