Before you sign on the dotted line when buying a home, it’s a good idea to get a home inspection to make sure you know of any issues with the home’s structure, heating and cooling systems, electrical systems, plumbing and more. If you don’t flag issues with the seller before buying, you’ll be the one responsible for paying for any necessary repairs.
But there are some times when getting a single general home inspection just isn’t enough. These are the signs you should hire an inspector for a second look to avoid a homebuyer nightmare.
The Inspector Recommends a Second Inspection by a Specialist
The tell-tale sign that you should get another home inspection is obvious. If the initial inspector recommends that you hire a specialist for a second look, don’t ignore their recommendation — the cost of a second opinion will likely be less than the cost of a major repair.
“Most home inspectors are licensed to perform general home inspections only. In the event they find any defects with systems such as electrical, plumbing, structural engineering or HVAC, they have to recommend a secondary assessment and evaluation be performed by individuals licensed in the applicable field,” said Ron Humes, owner and principal broker at HomeSelect Realty. “This would be a valid reason for the buyer to obtain a secondary inspection.”
HVAC Issues in Particular Should Get a Second Inspection
Something as simple as rust on an HVAC unit can be a sign of a much larger issue. So if a general inspector flags something on the HVAC that should be looked at, it’s worth another inspection.
“I had a client who got an HVAC inspector to look at an older, rusty unit in further detail, and it ended up needing to be entirely replaced,” said Jennifer Winton, a RE/MAX Moves real estate agent in Greenville, South Carolina. “The seller did this $4,000-plus replacement while my clients only had to pay $125 for the HVAC inspection. So worth it.”
The Inspector Fails to Flag Issues You Are Already Aware Of
“If an inspector omits to mention even minor issues in the home inspection report that you’re already aware of, there’s a good chance more has been overlooked by the inspector,” said Kimberly Blaker, a real estate agent and freelance writer. “Some of those omissions could be major, costly issues.”
Rather than chance it, it’s better to hire a second home inspector to take a look.
The Inspector Is In and Out in Less Than Two Hours
Quality home inspections take time, so it’s a red flag if the inspector breezes through yours.
“If the inspection doesn’t take at least two to four hours, depending on the size of the home, it wasn’t thorough,” said Blaker. “A good home inspector takes time to examine every square inch of a home, inside and out. This includes sufficient time spent in the basement or crawl space, attic, garage and on top of the roof.”
The Inspector Doesn't Do Due Diligence
Make sure the home inspector you hire comes prepared.
Inspectors should “take their time testing all outlets that are visible, checking the furnace/air conditioning, plumbing, roof, chimneys, etc. If your home inspector is not taking photos of everything they are checking and/or [are not] equipped with the tools to properly test the above-mentioned items,” that’s a red flag, said April Macowicz, broker associate and team lead with The MAC Group.
The Inspector Comes Across as Inexperienced
“Another red flag is if you ask [the inspector] questions about what they are doing or what they are looking for and they cannot properly answer you,” said Macowicz. “You may have someone who is inexperienced, and therefore could miss items that are hazardous or potentially hazardous.”
The Inspector Doesn't Have the Expertise Required to Make Certain Recommendations
“If the home inspector gives any sort of ‘findings’ that are not within their scope of expertise, this is a definite red flag,” said Beverly Whipple, a real estate agent with ERA Brokers Consolidated. “I get nervous if I ever see anything that the home inspector took note of that I know they are not qualified to be making — something like, ‘There is settlement damage here.'”
This is a sign the inspector isn’t entirely trustworthy, and it would be worth it to get a second inspection from someone more reputable.
Repairs Have Been Performed Following the Initial Inspection
If the initial inspection found issues or damages that the seller was responsible for repairing, it’s best to get in a set of expert eyes to ensure that things were fixed properly before finalizing the purchase of the home.
“Most buyers get a second inspection after repairs have been performed and defects have been remedied from a prior inspection,” said Brian Ma, a real estate agent with Flushing Realty Group.
You Didn't Attend the Initial Inspection
There are observations an inspector could make that might not fall under a category in their home inspection checklist or make it into their official report, such as things that are OK now but could need a repair down the line. Being there alongside the inspector as they do their walk-through can give you more information than you’d get after the fact. So if you weren’t there for the initial inspection, it could be worth it to get another one.
The Inspector Was Not Licensed in Your State
If you live near a state border, it’s very possible you could unintentionally hire an inspector that isn’t licensed in your state. If you make this mistake, the seller could deny making any recommended repairs.
“When we go back and negotiate repairs with the seller, the first thing the seller and seller’s agent will see is the inspector you chose was not licensed in that particular state,” Kim Soper, a Lexington, Kentucky-based real estate agent told U.S. News & World Report. “Therefore, your repair request may not be considered valid.”
It’s likely much cheaper to pay for a second inspection than to pay to make the repairs yourself.
The Inspector Isn't Up-to-Date With Building Codes
Building codes can be confusing, so this part of the home inspection report is often overlooked by buyers. But not carefully checking the inspector’s assessment is a mistake.
“I always recommend confirming the accuracy of code requirements stated by home inspectors,” said Chris Murphy, a real estate agent with Washington Waterfronts. He recalled one inspection during which “the home inspector confused code requirements, and [it turned out he] was completely wrong about requirements after [I] fact-checked his statements with local and international building codes.”
Any issues with the initial inspection report are a sign that you should get a second inspection.
The Inspector Tells You Everything Is Fine
Getting a perfect report from a home inspector is either a sign that your home really is perfect — or it can be a sign that the inspector overlooked signs of damage or things that need repair. If not even minor issues are flagged, you should consider getting another inspection.
You Just Want the Added Peace of Mind
“It is always a good idea to get a second home inspection done before closing on a property,” said Whipple. “This can create sound peace of mind, pose a second option and/or ensure issues that were noted in the first inspection were repaired properly. Making sure you hire a professional with a good history of work and reviews, or that has positive testimonies from other agents is very important.”
Signs You Should Get Another Home Inspection If You're a Seller
In most cases, buyers are the ones who will get a home inspection done as part of the homebuying process, but there are some scenarios in which getting another inspection will benefit the seller.
You're Putting Your Home Up for Sale
If you haven’t gotten a home inspection since you were the buyer of your home, it’s time for another home inspection. Ideally, you’d have the inspection done before listing the home, so you have an understanding of what repairs it needs.
“When selling your home, it is a great idea to get a home inspection beforehand,” said Nick Zolotas, a real estate agent with Herrick Lutts Realty Partners. “Often, you will have sellers who believe that their home has no issues, only to find out after a home inspector picks their property apart that a buyer now wants thousands of dollars off the initial agreed upon sales price. This will take the majority of homeowners by surprise, and really turn the deal sour.”
“If you were to have your home inspection done before putting the property on the market, you could get ahead of certain issues and potentially sell the property for a larger profit with less headaches.”
You Want To Dispute the Findings of a Buyers' Inspection
If you don’t agree or are skeptical of a homebuyers’ inspection, be sure to get another inspection to put any doubts to rest.
“Once the home inspection is completed and the findings are reported to the buyer, the buyer will request necessary repairs from the seller. If the seller wishes to dispute any of the findings, they would be well advised to obtain another home inspection of their own, or better yet, a review of the findings by professionals licensed in the area in question,” said Humes. “A professional licensed in the specific area of interest will always trump a general home inspector who does not hold a license in that area.”
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About the Author
Gabrielle joined GOBankingRates in 2017 and brings with her a decade of experience in the journalism industry. Before joining the team, she was a staff writer-reporter for People Magazine and People.com. Her work has also appeared on E! Online, Us Weekly, Patch, Sweety High and Discover Los Angeles, and she has been featured on “Good Morning America” as a celebrity news expert.