A home inspection is an assessment of a home’s condition. Home inspectors not only identify problems with houses, they can give buyers information that will help them with the upkeep.
“We want to teach them how to maintain the property because it’s the biggest investment they’ll ever make,” says Alden E. Gibson, a past president of the American Society of Home Inspectors.
If you’re getting a home inspection, here are five mistakes to avoid.
5 home inspection mistakes to avoid
- Not researching the inspector.
- Not attending the inspection.
- Not reading the inspection report.
- Not getting a presale inspection.
- Not prepping the home.
1. Not researching the inspector
Too many buyers and sellers hire whoever is recommended to them without doing any research. The inspection is only as good as the inspector doing it, says Troy Bloxom, owner of Home Inspections Plus near Anchorage, Alaska, and past president of the National Association of Home Inspectors.
A few questions to ask:
- 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? (Ideally, your pro was in contracting or building.)
You want a certified professional who stays current. “There’s a lot of stuff you have to know, and you want someone who’s keeping up with ongoing education,” says Kurt Mitenbuler, who is certified by the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) and owns an inspection company in Evanston, Illinois.
You’re looking for an inspector who can analyze the home’s strengths and weaknesses, then explain them.
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, Gibson says. “If they don’t see it, they don’t understand it.”
Gibson says he turns down dozens of inspections a year “because people can’t be there or don’t want to be there.”
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 questions.
“Any home inspector who doesn’t let you follow him around? That’s weird. Ask me any question you want,” Mitenbuler says.
A good inspector 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.
You need someone who uses “clear, concise” language in person and in written reports, Mitenbuler says. He recommends scanning a few reports by checking the inspector’s website or asking for a sample report.
A knowledgeable pro will state simply what’s wrong with the house and what it will take to fix, Mitenbuler says.
4. Not getting a presale inspection
Many sellers decide to leave the presale inspection to the buyers, Bloxom says. That’s a mistake.
When the buyers get an inspection (and if they’re smart, they will), the sellers may have little time to complete repairs and keep the sale on track, Bloxom says.
But if the seller has the home inspected before putting it on the market, he has more time to do repairs and to shop around and control his costs for the work, Bloxom says.
Both buyers and sellers often wait too long to engage an inspector, Gibson says. You should find an inspector long before you have (or make) an offer on a home. “Any good inspector will be booked out,” he says.
5. Not prepping the home
Inspectors get annoyed when homeowners don’t prepare their houses for inspection.
“Don’t force the home inspector to empty the closet to get into the attic,” Mitenbuler says. If you have a crawl-space hatch, 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.
For a seller, the best tack is to be at home to meet the inspector, introduce yourself, provide your mobile number — and then you can take off, Mitenbuler says.
To reduce the need for repeat inspections, hire professionals to do repairs, Bloxom says. Too many sellers will try DIY or get them done on the cheap. But poor workmanship will show up during the follow-up inspection, Bloxom says, and could result in more repairs — and another inspection.