6 Vital Questions for Buyers To Ask a Home Inspector
A home inspection is often one of the most crucial steps in the homebuying process. Essentially, it’s an evaluation and report on the condition of a house, usually one that’s on the market. Typically, the fee is fronted by the buyer, and depending on the final report, sometimes there is cause for the buyer to come back and renegotiate the price and conditions with the seller, or ultimately even back out of a deal.
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Though it isn’t always required for all real estate transactions, it’s usually recommended to get an evaluation of the property’s condition before purchasing. When the inspection’s going on, it’s always important to know what questions to ask them before, during (if possible) and after the inspection before deciding on whether or not to buy.
Here’s a rundown of the types of questions you should ask a home inspector when you’re considering buying a property.
What Does It Cost?
Generally speaking, home inspections can run anywhere between $300 and $600, depending on the type of property, lot size, and what the inspector will actually do. Spend a little time doing research online and see if you can get any recommendations from people when selecting, too.
Obviously, check ahead of time to see what kind of payment they’ll accept, and it’s a good idea to be wary of anyone whose rates are significantly above or below the market average.
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What Do You Check (and What You Don’t)?
Once you know the price, find out exactly what the home inspector will be looking at while on the property and what they won’t be — it can vary by location and inspector. Once you find out what’s off their list, you’ll want to talk to the current homeowner about every one of those items to get a better idea of what you’re in for.
You may also want to consider hiring a separate appointment if necessary. For example, they might boast a “roof-to-foundation” inspection, but that might not include the plumbing underneath the house. If this is the case, consider hiring a plumber to come out for an inspection of their own.
Can I Be There While It Happens?
This will also depend on the individual inspector as well as your own schedule, but if you’re able, it’s worth being there for the inspection. This way you can get a hands-on understanding of the house’s condition in real time. Additionally, they’ll be able to point out specific issues as they see them, and help break down what that could mean for you as the potential homeowner.
Likewise, you’ll be able to ask about issues that might seem concerning to you, like water spots on ceilings. It might not be formally covered by their inspection, but they can at least give you an idea of the cause behind it.
How Big of an Issue Is This?
Inevitably, every house will have some issues with it. A good home inspector will be able to break down how critical of an issue it is, and maybe even sketch out a rough timeframe of when you’ll absolutely have to address it. The inspector can also break down the most invasive must-do repairs, which you might consider trying to get done before moving in.
They can also help explain some more disconcerting issues. While a problem with something like the foundation might seem like a big deal, they should be able to break down the relative severity and alleviate some worry. They might even be able to give you suggestions on contractors who’ll be able to help.
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How Do You Deal With This?
If you’re used to living in apartments — or have just never lived in a house with its own HVAC system, septic tank or a basement — it’s natural to have questions about what goes into maintaining them. Should these unfamiliar appliances or spaces be present in your potential future house, the home inspector should be able to give you a pretty good answer, including what to expect in terms of service and maintenance costs.
What Would You Do?
Sometimes the best questions are the most straight-forward ones. Buying a home can seem like an overwhelming process, and home inspectors will have a good grasp of the current market in your area.
If possible, don’t hesitate to ask them their personal opinion about the property aside from the specifics of the inspection. Maybe they have a gut feeling about it, good or bad. Whatever it is, if they share it, it’s worth taking into consideration before signing on the dotted line.
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