Updated: Nov 5, 2019
One of the common myths about home inspections says that the inspection is just a formality - much to the contrary. The home inspection process is like you physical at the doctor- it may be smooth sailing with not much of anything significant but it could also be the preview of a nightmare about to unfold. Getting a home inspection is probably the service that gives you most paying for your buck in the home buying process. Here are a few tips on how to ensure your home inspection report is working for you. These tips assume you hired a professional home inspector who is licensed and certified and passed your test.
Tip 1: Review your report top to bottom (not just the pictures) to identify which findings the inspector considers as safety concerns and which ones are merely recommendations. Once you have identified those it’s time to get some quotes and budgeting. Once that list is done you have a powerful negotiation tool as well as list for your contractors to begin work. Try to get an inspector who would come out to re-inspect any changes as there is no guarantee your contractors will do the job right. Always remember that a professional Home Inspector has no interest in whether you purchase the home or not which make them the naturally suited person to answer a ton of your questions about the property’s functioning and upkeep.
Tip 2: A good report would also give you maintenance tips and an idea about the general state of repair for the home and its attached elements. The truly caring inspector would definitely give you guidance on how to maintain you property and offer some kind of home maintenance system and information. Do not settle for anything else or you will end up doing a lot of work on behalf of your future property. For example, your inspector should point out any debris in the gutters or other obstructive items but few would remember to schedule an annual clean up of their gutters after purchasing the home. A friendly reminder may make the difference between a house in despair and a well maintained and manicured home. After all, the home is a reflection of the owner’s physical and emotional investment in the property or simply their lack of knowledge. Only you can work on your motivation and care; however, the right inspector will definitely work on making sure you have the knowledge along with the friendly nudges to ensure that your home will still be your castle even after years of beautiful memories and family evolution.
Tip 3: Keep your report handy as it can serve as a reference point in insurance claims. Even if you buy a home equipped with all the bells and whistles no one knows what the future holds- a torrential rain, tornado, snow storm, uprooted tree etc. There are many ways your home may get damaged in the future, but how do you know what was there before and prove it? Your home inspection report can serve that purpose and be your ground zero. Nowadays, a good inspector will take a minimum of 200 pictures at each inspection. Some make it to the report and others do not. Many of these pictures will never make it to the official report, but you continue to have access through your home inspector as they usually would keep those photos as a back up in the event you have questions or concerns in the future. Most people think the relationship with their inspector is one and done, but many of us inspectors would like to still be there when you need home advise, home owner inspection, mold inspection, radon etc. or simply to answer any follow-up questions.
Tip 4: Hire professional contractors. I attended an inspection seminar event in Boulder, Colorado and I will never forget one particular presentation where the speaker: a veteran licensed roofing contractor, said to us home inspectors - " you guys are like a mini police in the construction business!" I felt pride when I heard those words but in reality we are not code inspectors. We are simply looking for the safety of our clients by following national and local safety standards. Every jurisdiction is different and although we can call things out, that doesn't mean we are policing anybody or enforcing anything. When choosing a contractor to build you a new roof, install you a new electrical system, etc. Please do your due diligence and research their credentials. There are contractors out there who claim doing it all under one company name, but come on really? I am afraid I have to give you the lowdown but they are just trying to get your money. Sometimes we home inspectors find ourselves having to teach contractors the proper way to install things in their own trade and that shouldn't be the case. It should be the opposite.
With that being said...
In this day and age, information is at your finger tips and you should most definitely use it to your advantage. Checklist format inspections are a thing of the past and you should not allow backward thinking people to influence and guide your future. Technology has help our generations advance to new heights, why not take advantage of it for your home and future.