A home inspection is the first big decision a potential buyer will make after putting earnest money down. You’re now in a contract with the clock ticking. You need to find the right home inspector to give you their professional opinion on the condition of the house, safety issues, and potential repairs ranked from urgent to minor.

You want to know the intimate details before you make one the biggest purchases of your life. The following are seven tips to consider as you hire someone to inspect your potential home.

Tip #1—Hire a Home Inspector with Experience

Your inspection results are only as good as the experience and expertise of the inspector. You are in control of who you are partnering with to gather crucial information in your decision to purchase the house. Look for someone who is licensed, a member of a national home inspector association like ASHI or InterNACHI, and has extensive experience. You don’t want a rookie helping you decide whether or not to buy your home.

Tip #2—Make the Home Inspection a Contingency in Your Contract

If the home inspection is not a contingency in your contract, you only have two options—move forward and buy the house with the issues that came to light from the inspection or pass and lose your earnest money. A home inspection gives you more options if its results are contingent in the purchase agreement.

Your real estate agent will help you in this area, but a home inspection that is tied to the purchase agreement gives you the opportunity to come back to the seller and present expensive repairs or safety issues that could have an effect on the purchase price. It is not, however, the time to present minor issues. Every home will have some issues to contend with. The home inspection contingency in the contract is to protect you from expensive or safety related issues found in the home inspection.

Tip #3—Allow Plenty of Time for the Home Inspection Process

There is more involved than just scheduling the inspector. Of course, you want to get on your chosen inspector’s schedule just as soon as possible, but you will have to coordinate your availability to be there for the inspection as well as your agent’s, if they choose to attend. While the inspection debrief usually happens immediately after the inspection, you will need time to meet with your real estate agent and go over the report. After that, you’ll plan your next course of action. You may need to get repair estimates from professionals, research permits were properly done after discovering the house was added on, look further into recalls on appliances, etc. You will need more than just the time it takes to complete the home inspection.

Tip #4—Be There for the Home Inspection

It’s important to attend the inspection if at all possible. You will see the house through the eyes of a home inspector. He will be in “home inspector” mode, most likely taking pictures or video and recording his notes on his tablet or phone as he completes the inspection. You will be a bystander but being present will give him a perspective of performing the inspection to a person rather than a report. It should not be an issue if you ask a few timely questions, but keep them minimal. Assume he will point out any expensive repairs or safety issues as he finds them. You will not be able to get on the roof with him due to liability issues, but he should take plenty of pictures to show you when he gets back on the ground.

Tip #5—Quiz the Inspector About the Roof and Attic

The roof is an expensive item to repair or replace. Whether you are present at the time of inspection or not, have the inspector show you pictures or video of the roof. Also, find out from the seller’s agent when the roof was last replaced or re-shingled, if any repairs over the years, the type of shingles used, and when the warranty expires if one is still in effect.

Make sure the inspector looks closely at the attic. There are several things that could be hiding in the attic:

Water leaks in the AC unit drain, air leaks in the ventilation, improperly vented bathroom fan that spews humid air into the attic, whirly-bird vents that don’t turn, thin insultation, electrical and/or cable wiring issues, signs of water damage or leaks, just to name a few.

Ask the inspector specifically about the condition of the attic if you are present. Pay close attention to the details of the report if you’re not there when he inspects the attic.

Tip #6—Focus Only on the Big Repairs

Every pre-owned home has things that could be repaired or improved. It is your home inspector’s job to make you aware of (nearly) every possible thing wrong with the house, but that doesn’t mean you need to make the sale contingent on every item. Focus on items that are either safety issues or expensive to repair. On the other hand, if you are buying a brand-new home, it is a reasonable expectation that everything be in perfect working order. Your realtor will help you decide which issues will be brought up to the seller.

Tip #7—OPTIONAL:  Negotiate for the Inspector to Return After Repairs are Made

If the property requires major repairs that the seller is responsible for, you will need an expert to evaluate they were completed correctly. The seller may have done the work themselves or hired the lowest bidder, so you want to make sure the work was completed correctly and is not a hazard.

The cost will not be near as much as the original inspection, but it makes good sense to have someone familiar with the house return to evaluate the repair work.

These seven tips are designed to make your home buying experience as smooth and confident as possible. A trusted home inspector and experienced real estate agent will make all the difference. Call Tom Daigle with Daigle Inspection at (409) 656-3138 to schedule your inspection today.

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