The Main Types of Home Inspections

Most people, that have either bought a home in the past or that are considering such a purchase, are familiar with Home Inspections. A widely accepted and succinct definition of a Home Inspection is:

A home inspection is an objective visual examination of the physical structure and systems of a house, from the roof to the foundation.

A thorough home inspection should include a general and visual assessment of all parts of the home in accordance with a set of prescribed or adopted standards. There are different types of inspections…with those different types having a bit more to do with the clients intended use of the home inspection report rather than of any significant variations in the inspection process itself.

Some of the different types of Home Inspections as they relate to intended use are:

  • The Pre-Purchase Inspection – This is, by far, the most common type of inspection; it’s performed for and on behalf of a client that is buying a home. They want to know the condition of the home before they buy it…that makes sense, right?
  • The Pre-Listing Inspection – This is an inspection that’s performed for the selling party…the people that might be selling their home. Typically, this type of inspection is accomplished prior to the home being placed for sale on the market. The seller wants to know about the condition of the home so that there are minimal surprises once the home has gone under contract. This type of inspection is sometimes referred to as a Sellers Inspection
  • Consult Inspection – Sometimes, a person might want to know about a particular aspect of their home…they might not want to know about everything that might be wrong but are concerned about a single aspect of a home…say, the condition of the roof. This type of inspection is sometimes referred to a Consult Inspection or a Single-Item inspection and might be appropriate for some people in certain circumstances.
  • New Construction Inspection – This is a very common type of inspection conducted for the buyer of a newly completed home.
  • The 11 Month Warranty Inspection – This inspection is commonly requested by a home-owner who has purchased a newly constructed home and is nearing the end of their 1 Year warranty period. It helps to identify issues that might need to be corrected under the builders warranty program.

Home Inspection Is Not Optional

With the numerous TV programs now covering the process of flipping properties, many homeowners have been given a sense of self confidence. These do-it-yourself shows have provided their audience with the idea that they too can be professional real estate investors. While you may have the funds to attempt flipping a property or two you have not been trained to professionally inspect a home. When it comes to serious buying and selling it pays to have elite home inspections done during the home buying or selling process. These professionals follow industry approved standards in methodically inspecting homes to give homeowners a real evaluation on the condition of the house. This assures buyers that they will not be making a poor investment.

Home inspections take a look at the home from the roof down to the foundation. Inspectors can check for mold and termites which are strong indicators of the true state of the property. Certified home inspectors will check the shingles, the electrical wiring, and the plumbing. Inspectors will also check if there are cracks in the walls and will look under the sinks to look for evidence of current or past leaks. Essentially, these professionals will thoroughly check if everything in the house is in proper working condition and provide you with a detailed inspection report that summarizes all of the issues into an easy to read format. The report gives the home owner or buyer a very transparent way to gauge the value of what they intend to sell or purchase.

In some cases, an inspection is also required prior to selling a home. Such is the case of termite inspection. Termites could be both flying and found underground or in subterranean conditions. These insects are sure to become a potential issue with home owners. Termites can affect the structural integrity of the house when it consumes the wooden portions of the house. Termites can turn the property into a potential danger zone. One can be sure that termites will not only cause physical damage, but will also pull down the value of the property.

Another thing elite home inspections can spot is mold infestation. Since mold favors moist areas, these could also mean unwanted moisture in the home. Not only that, it also reflects on the cleanliness of the home. Some molds are identified as health threats, some even causing ailments that could lead to death.

For both seller and buyer, getting rid of molds is important. Depending on the home inspection service, the inspectors might take samples of molds and have these analyzed. That is the way to identify the kind of mold and determine if these are dangerous. Professionals can provide a detailed report about the molds and give action steps to remedy the situation.

In checking the condition of the home, aside from the electrical wirings, some inspectors also perform a check of the home appliances. Some provide a separate report on what needs repair or replacement, especially for appliances with that are known to have been recalled by the manufacturer. Having these in the home also pose as a danger for the people living in the house. Having properly working appliances in the house for sale lessens the burden for the home buyer to acquire new appliances. As such, these appliances add value to the house for sale.

A home inspection is not a simple matter that can be done by untrained personnel. For home buyers, it would be a big risk not to have a home inspection done before signing the closing deal and handing over the payment. One cannot move into a home that is bound to be a future safety hazard. Having elite home inspections does the job of providing peace of mind perfectly. A home inspection team that offers a warranty on their work is the best option to pick.

Some companies offer a 90-day warranty. This means that the report that the company gives to a home buyer does not end on the day the buyer moves in. The warranty works when the new home owner spots something that is not in working order but is indicated as functioning on the report. The new home owner will not be under obligation to pay for the repairs and the inspectors will cover it. With this kind of warranty, the inspection team is not likely to make false declarations in their inspection report. This should give the home buyer the peace of mind that they are truly getting an accurate inspection report.

Individuals who are thinking of buying a home should hire an inspection team or ask the seller for an inspection report done by elite home inspections. Moreover, look for one that offers a 90-day warranty that provides coverage for structural and mechanical failure for added protection.

Home Inspection for Buyers

Congratulations on taking the first step for purchasing a home. But is the home inspected? Do you have a detailed property inspection report?

Results of a home inspection can make or break the sale of a home. Also, mortgage companies look closely at home inspection reports to ensure their investment is worthwhile. Inspecting the physical condition of a home is a very important aspect of the home-buying process. You should include the same in your purchase contract before closing the sale.

A qualified home inspector performs the home inspection using a checklist to ensure every aspect of the structure and its surrounding is covered. It is beneficial to cross check your home inspection report with the seller’s inspection report to ensure nothing has been missed.

As a buyer, you can be armed with a checklist. Also compare it with a property inspector’s list to ensure nothing is amiss.

Structural Inspection

It is vital for the home to be structurally solid and safe. Structural features inspected include roofing, floors, attic, walls, ceilings, columns, basement & foundation.

Roofing

Roofing and exterior components refer to external features of the home. The inspection would cover the patio, deck, exterior windows & doors etc. The garage is also checked as a part exterior inspection. Water drains are tested for proper functioning.

HVAC, Plumbing and Electrical Inspection

Air conditioning, heating, plumbing and electrical are examined for proper performance. The inspector checks all the utilities for the proper installation and function. This includes vent systems, water and waste drainage, water system, etc. Property inspectors examine the proper functioning of appliances to check for plumbing or electrical issues.

Interior Inspection

The interior house inspection covers ceilings, floors, walls & stairs. Every aspect of the interior inspection including steps, balconies, windows, doors, etc. are checked.

Insulation and Ventilation Inspection

The house inspection includes a check of ventilation in the kitchen, bathroom, and attic. Home inspectors check the foundation and subfloor for any issues. Every home is checked for possible problems based on the geographical location.

If the home inspection reports indicate that the house is in good condition, you can advance with the purchase, knowing you’re getting a good deal.

Also, if the inspections bring some issues to light – such as electrical or plumbing damage, etc. – you can negotiate with the seller to pay for necessary fixes OR lower the purchase price. As a home buyer, you need to equip yourself with all the details about the home before you make the purchase. The home inspection process ensures that your investment is a safe bet.

Some Home Inspection Tips for Buyers

Homebuyers want home inspection tips as they consider making a large financial investment. Tips about home inspection are especially valuable for those who have not purchased a house before. This article is intended to provide such readers the most important pointers to follow so that the real estate buying process is not so overwhelming.

The home inspection tips contained herein address three primary concerns, namely, how to select a home inspector, how to ensure you get the inspection you want and need, and how to get the most benefit out of the inspection report. These pointers apply whether or not you are working with a real estate agent. In fact, if you are working with an agent, these tips will help you get more involved so that the agent doesn’t make all or even some decisions unilaterally.

Our first tip is to consider why you should have the house you plan to buy inspected. There are various motives or reasons for doing so, the most common of which is to avoid buying a money pit. Sometimes the lender requires an inspection, and in general it’s a good idea to discover what may need to be remedied prior to closing. Also, though at one time a home warranty policy was commonly incorporated into the purchase agreement (perhaps seller and buyer sharing the cost), today the home inspection is in essence the only step taken to protect one’s investment.

But this makes it all the more important to get a report that covers all the bases and serves as a kind of owner’s manual to help you get acquainted to your new residence. Unfortunately, too often the inspection is somewhat rushed or even cursory. Minor problems might get glossed over and occasionally a serious major defect is missed. In such a case, if damages occur down the road, the buyer has some recourse by filing a claim, assuming the inspector is bonded. But the liability may be limited to the price of the inspection.

So our second tip is to find a home inspector who is thorough and who writes a complete report that puts everything he finds in proper perspective. If something is wrong, it is important to know what the implications are, just how serious the problem is, and how necessary it is to fix it.

To accomplish this, your inspector should not be too beholden to the real estate agent. If his primary goal is to please the agent (so he can continue to get referrals), he may take shortcuts. (Agents in general prefer quick inspections and summarized findings of major issues only.)

Don’t ignore or discount an inspector referral from your agent, but ask for more than one name and research them. (Most inspectors have a website with sample reports, and you may find there or elsewhere reviews or client testimonials appraising their work.) Be sure you are going to get the kind of home inspection you want before choosing the inspector.

Our third tip builds on the first two and is similar to them. The first tip was the why, whereas the second advises care in determining who inspects the house and how it is inspected. This next tip advises taking care to establish what is inspected.

A number of things can cause an inspector to exclude items from the inspection. Examples are Standards of Practice, his contract, the utilities not being on, inaccessibility due to blocking objects or locked doors, and dangerous situations. Some of these things are under the inspector’s control, some are not, but he is not liable for unintended exclusions and will charge the same fee despite them.

Thus, we recommend reviewing the contract carefully, identifying normally excluded items you want included and possibly normally included items you don’t care about. Also, be sure that lender requirements and constraints will be accommodated. Discuss changes to the list of exclusions and inclusions with the inspector, potentially negotiating a reduced inspection fee.

Then, we advise leaving as little to chance as possible. Ask the inspector what his expectations are to ensure that all inclusions are actually inspected. Relay this information to your real estate agent, who is responsible for seeing that the expectations are met by making arrangements with the owner via the owner’s listing agent. Now, any unintended exclusions that arise would suggest a deliberately uncooperative seller.

Our fourth tip is to get maximum leverage out of the inspection report. Study all findings in the body, not just the major items listed in the summary. If you followed our second tip faithfully, there should be nothing unclear, vague, or out of context. Even so, don’t hesitate to ask the inspector for explanations or elaborations, who should be more than willing to comply.

Some findings may be purely informational and not defects. Some defects may be more or less trivial and not worth pursuing. Serious problems can be addressed in three different ways: as deal breakers, causing you to withdraw your offer; as things you want the seller to remedy prior to closing at his expense; or as conditions you will accept possibly with some form of compensation such as reduced sales price.

We advise against sharing the inspection report with the seller or listing agent. You have paid for it and it belongs to you. The lender may require a copy, but you may request him to keep it confidential. Simply work up a brief contract addendum with your agent covering items falling into the last two categories mentioned in the previous paragraph.

By following these home inspection tips, you stand the best chance of minimizing if not eliminating home-buying surprises.

Understanding Your Home Inspection Report

After pouring through real estate news, studying up on loans and neighborhoods, attending myriads of open houses and even digging into house hunting online – most home buyers feel like they are true real estate experts. However, for all but the most handy of house hunters, getting into really looking at the house shows just how little most people actually know about the nuts and bolts of what is probably the largest purchase they’ll ever make.

So YOU make the right decision and schedule a home inspection. You even attend the inspection and ask what you think are all the right questions – then get the report and find it reads with a whole different language then what you were speaking at the time of inspection. Terms like “serviceable condition…”, “monitor…”, “conducive to decay…”, “satisfactory to…” What do these along with the other comments and ratings ACTUALLY mean to you the home buyer?

Here’s a few pointers to help you translate the report into something you can really use.

1. The best home inspectors are even keeled, objective and “Just the Facts” is their byline. They’re not alarmists and they don’t try to play down the importance of things. Sometimes that straightforwardness can make it confusing and difficult for you, the buyer, to know what’s a really big deal and what’s not – whether you should move forward with the purchase, what to plan ahead for; whether to re-negotiate or walk way.

As a home inspector I’ve categorized things as a safety hazard that a couple hours and less than $100 would fix. For example a bathroom faucet with the hot and cold supply lines reversed. On the other hand you might see a simple line like “extensive earth to wood contact observed” that after further inspection opens a pretty pricey can of worms.

A home inspector shouldn’t provide you with a repair bid and in most cases won’t go into what the repairs (if any are needed) would entail, their job is to inspect and report. That being said, 9 times out of 10 they probably will verbally give you the information you might need to help you understand whether the situation is a serious problem or what you may be looking at down the road.

2. Many times I am asked by the home buyer accompanying me on an inspection, “Who should I get to fix that?” Personally I don’t recommend anyone because it’s an uncomfortable conflict of interest for me but instead I suggest they ask their local real estate agents because they know the area, who’s reputable and who isn’t. The other answer may be as simple as “You don’t need to hire anyone, go down to the hardware store and pick up a _____, here’s where it goes. I’m not sure how much it will cost but it probably won’t be much.” Either way, go ahead and ask your inspector – you’ll probably find out that most of the items in the home inspection report will probably be DIY items or maintenance issues. Even if you’re uncomfortable at first with handling DIY items, a couple of You Tube videos and some advice from the clerk at the hardware store should help you get into the projects. Either way you’ll know more about the issue at hand and whether you should hire someone to do the small fixes.

3. The second most popular question is “What would you do if this was your house? What would you fix and when?” The home inspector’s job is to point out everything, within the scope of the inspection that might need repair, replacement, maintenance, further inspection – or what might be on its last leg. They also are experienced enough with homes to know that no home is perfect. For example, if you ask “What would you (the home inspector) do with an item described as “at the end of its serviceable lifetime?” The might say “If it were mine, I wouldn’t do a thing to it. Just know that it could break in the next 5 months, or in the next 5 years. Keep your home warranty in effect, because that should cover it when it does break.”

“What would you do if this was your house? What would you fix and when?” is a good question because it puts you in the position to:

  • Understand better what does and doesn’t need to be repaired immediately
  • Better prioritize the work you plan to do to the home (budget or renegotiate accordingly)
  • Understand and get used to constant maintenance that comes along with home ownership
  • Understand the importance of a good home warranty plan.

4. A common scenario is to get home, open up the inspection report and have no clue whatsoever what he or she was referring to when they pointed out the wax ring that needs replacement or the TPR valve that is improperly installed. Your best bet for better understanding the home inspection report is to ask the inspector ( at the end of the inspection) to walk through the house with you to point out all the items they’ve noted needing repair, maintenance or further inspection. This way when you get the report you’ll have a better understanding of what and where the various items in the report belong. (Make sure your inspector includes as many pictures as necessary in their report.)

The bottom line is; if at all possible, arrange to attend your home inspection. This will be well worth it when you receive your report and you’re able to recognize each item and understand what the comments actually are referring to. At the end of the day, the home inspection report is just that – an objective report on the operations of the basic systems found in a house. It’s going to be up to you to follow up and ask the right questions that will help in making the right decisions for you when it comes time to purchase the home.