4 common home inspection questions
If possible, it's a good idea for a new homeowner to be present for their home inspection in order to get clarity about items on the report, Sherwood says. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member James C. of Waco, Texas)
Buying a home can be an exciting, but stressful process. No matter how many homes you’ve looked at, it’s likely that if you have made an offer and entered into a contract, you’re already feeling warm and fuzzy toward your prospective new home. However, signing the sales contract is far from the final step.
One of the most important factors in the home buying process is the home inspection. This will give you a clearer picture of the condition of your new home and provide valuable information to keep in mind. Below are some of the most common questions associated with a home inspection.
1. Will my home pass the inspection?
First, it’s important to know that a home inspection is not pass/fail. A home inspector can tell you the condition of the property on the day it is inspected, but the resulting report is informational, not enforceable.
There may be important items listed as "deficient," but a home cannot “fail” a home inspection, regardless of its condition. The inspector provides the information they find, and you and your realtor take it from there.
2. What does a home inspection cover?
The criteria that a home inspection must meet are decided by the state agency that regulates their home inspector’s licenses. If you want to know what is covered in your state, you have a few options. Most regulatory agencies will post this information on their web sites. You can also visit the web site of a local home inspector to see if they have posted this information, possibly on an FAQ page.
In Texas, you can actually download and view the inspection report created by the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) that contains the basic information that all Texas home inspectors must provide.
Although the list will vary by region, there are a few important areas that a home inspection should always address: structural, electrical, HVAC, plumbing and appliances. Texas also includes a section called Optional Systems, which covers items such as gas lines, sprinkler systems and more.
3. What if I don’t understand some items in my report?
Home Inspectors are human and can easily fall into the habit of using jargon and industry terms in their reports. If there is an item in your report that you don’t understand, call your inspector and ask.
This is the reason my company invites all of our clients to be present during the inspection. If there is an item that will be in the report that the buyer is not familiar with, we would much rather be able to explain it face to face and address any areas of concern.
4. I have my inspection report. What now?
Once your report is complete and you know what your concerns are, it is important to get with your realtor and write an amendment. This is the document that details the repairs you are requesting from the seller.
Technically, the seller is not required to fix anything, but most people are reasonable and will understand that the “big ticket items” such as the roof, foundation, plumbing, HVAC and electrical systems should be in safe, working order. However, it is important to keep in mind that this is a negotiation and each party will likely have their own definition of what is reasonable.
While these tips address the more common concerns of home buyers, they won't cover everything. It is important that you take the reins in making sure that you understand all the information you’ve paid for. Some professional organizations such as the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) and the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) can also be valuable sources of information for the home buyer.