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What questions to ask the home inspector
Dated: October 7 2020
During our career we and clients have questions for home inspectors; the trouble is that none of the questions have been prepared or thought through prior to the inspection. That said I have done some research to try an answer the question what we should ask and when. It is important to note the question are not during the inspection but before you hire the contractor to conduct the inspection. Many people just ask for a price. However, along with the questions we’re covering you should ask for references, check the Better Business Bureau for complaints and verify that they have insurance for the job.
1). What is it you check? Their standard answer is that they check everything from the roof to the foundation. According to Frank Lesh, executive director of the American Society of Home Inspectors, they inspect approximately 1,600 features on a home.
2). What do you charge? Most inspectors charge around $300 to $600, although it all depends on the size of the home, the market and the inspector. One key thing to think about is if the inspector gives you a quote that is lower than normal, ask yourself why? If you have a personal relationship, or work with them at a full-time job, it may be a sign the inspector is having trouble being hired, or they are new to the industry which indicates they may not be as experienced. Remember the Fram commercials for the 90’s? Where it said pay me now or pay me later. This is true with home inspectors. A good home inspection will save you from a lifetime of heart ache with a home.
Just a side note. We had a home inspector we know from one of the adjoining fire departments do an inspection for us; never been happier in my life and so was our client. The inspection reviled more problems than we ever saw or thought would’ve been present. This inspector had over 30 years’ experience charged our client his normal price and proved why it’s better to pay for a good inspection.
3). What don’t you inspect? Inspectors are limited to visual inspections only. Meaning they cannot cut a hole in a wall they check everything that is visually accessible. Inspectors assess for potential risks, and help they owners manage those risk by letting the owner know when it is prudent to call an expert; HVAC, electrician, plumber or roofer to further look into the issue.
4). How long have you been a home inspector? Please note if their tenor isn’t very long it doesn’t mean they are a bad inspector. We have seen inspectors with decade of experience do a bad job. We think the more appropriate question should be; how many inspections have you done?
5). Can I or my representative come along? If the answer is anything other than YES it is time to find a new inspector.
6). How long will the inspection take? In our experience an inspection can take between 1-3 hours depending on the size of the home and adjacent structures on the property. If the inspector tells you a time frame that seems unrealistic for the property it is time to look elsewhere for an inspector.
7). Can I see a sample of what a report looks like? Some inspectors have samples prepared, many don’t. I wouldn’t necessarily disqualify an inspector for not having a report. That said do not wig out when you see a report with its long list of issues. Every home has issues, even new built. Although most of the issues are minor and easily fixable.
If you go during the inspection please remember do not try to rush the inspector or distract them too much. We have found it is best to be with them, take notes on questions you have then clarify those questions after the inspection. In case you’re saying to yourself right now what do I ask let us help you.
1). What does that mean? Each industry has its own lingo, abbreviations, etc., so it’s okay to ask for clarification. Our experience has been the inspector will be glad for you to tag along; in fact, they like to teach. What I mean by that is they will tell you something like “those baseboards are rotting” this is the time to ask, is that difficult or costly to repair?
2). Is this a minor or major issue? Like in the previous question it is a good idea to ask if the HVAC issue is costly to repair. It’s also prudent to ask how long of a life is on the HVAC, roof and or water heater.
3). What are your major concerns about this property? The inspector will give some details as to what major concerns for them as an inspector. Find out if it should be fixed prior to move in, or can it wait until after.
There are a gambit of questions that can be asked the possibilities are actually endless. However, I just wanted to get you to start the thinking process so that when the time comes you’re already ahead of the ball sort of speak.
Rick & Angie Decker are realtors with Local Homes and Land Real Estate serving the tri-county area. When the next chapter of your life starts, we are here to help you through it. Call or email us today to start your journey.
Ference, A. (2020). 16 questions to ask a home inspector before, during and after a home inspection. Retrieved October 6, 2020 from https://www.realtor.com/advice/buy/questions-to-ask-a-home-inspector-and-when/
Rick and Angie Decker work together as The Decker Team and they specialize in both Commercial and Residential real estate.. Angie entered real estate part time in 2016 while also working as an Operati....
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