It seems silly, but many home buyers don’t have a plan when they get to the inspection. As a result, they don’t accomplish important tasks or they get bored and leave early. To help out, here are 7 things you may want to plan to accomplish at your upcoming home inspection.
1) Show Up
Most people actually do show up, but many are not exactly sure what to do when they get there. Step one is to discuss the home inspection prior to your appointment. To prepare yourselves, you may ask what is important to each of you, what safety concerns do you have, do you have remodel plans, who is using what rooms, developing a list of questions will help you to get the most out of the inspection. The 2 ½ hours or more you have during the inspection is valuable time to examine the home in more detail to be sure it meets your living and financial needs.
If your circumstances prevent you from being at the inspection, you can still get a lot done. Some items you can ask your broker to confirm or check, talk to them prior to the inspection. You can also have the inspector check specific items of concern as well. You should always talk to both your broker and your inspector prior to the inspection to confirm your concerns or questions. Additionally, your inspector may be willing (should be willing) to do a conference or video call at the end of the inspection. This will give you a quick summary of the inspection and give you one last chance to make sure your concerns are addressed.
2) Measure or Confirm Measurements of All Rooms
Interestingly, we have been providing our clients with a tape measure and a sheet to record measurements of all rooms in the new home for a while now. Some clients will bring their own tape measure, many who do not appreciate the option to do so. Measuring rooms, doorways, and hallways can provide you with a lot of helpful information. Will that couch fit on that wall? Will our dresser make the turn at the top of the stairs? How do I want my bedroom laid out? All of those questions and more can be answered if measurements are taken prior to your move. Measurements allow for a more efficient and enjoyable move (can we say enjoyable about moving all our stuff to a new home?). Using the information gathered at the inspection can make planning the move much easier.
3) Learn All Your New Systems
Your inspector should be able to give you a quick training on most of the features and components in the home your inspecting. How does a gas stove work and how do you clean the burners? What components of the HVAC system are important for me to know about and service? What do you need to know about a whole-house fan? How do the windows work? What safety features does the garage door-opener have? There are many more, but all are important to getting to know your new home.
Your inspector is there to find as many items as he/she can prior to your purchase, but they are also there to train you about your new home. Inspectors do 100’s of inspections a year, use their knowledge to help make the transition as smooth and as safe as it can be.
4) Know the Dangerous Systems
Every home is a dangerous place, it’s just we are so used to being at home we sometimes do not recognize it as being dangerous. Every year 18,000 Americans die in home accidents, additionally, some 21,000,000 head to the emergency room. So, what unsafe systems or areas are we talking about? The electrical panel, how is it safely opened, how is it safely kept closed, where is the main power disconnect? The HVAC system, what heat and cooling mediums are being used, electric or gas, where is the filter and how is it changed? Where is the sump pump, the crawlspace and attic accesses? Do you need to make them child proof? Are there tripping hazards? Where are all the shut-offs for gas and water supplies for all the different components in the home? As part of our safety protocol, SHI tags all gas and water shut-offs and points them out for you during the inspection. This is for your family’s safety. Understanding and proactively leaning about these aspects of your home, will help keep your family safer when you move in.
5) Think Upgrades
While you’re at the home inspection you have a great opportunity to think about what changes you would like to consider when you move into the home. Look at the kitchen, bathrooms, and the basement and let your imagination go. You should dream in your budget area, but really, this should be about vision, not economics. You may be at a home where the seller is still living at the property, look at what they did and get ideas about what you could do. Think about what you have liked and what you have not liked about your current or past homes and how you would change those aspects in your new home. Ask you home inspector about your ideas, many times they have come from the construction industry and can give you some ideas or cautions about your plans. Your broker in another source of good. If your ideas include moving or knocking down walls, get an opinion from a structural engineer. Your broker or inspector will have a couple places to begin your search, they will typically run between $300 - $500 for quick consult and visit about your design plans.
6) DON’T TALK IN THE HOUSE!
Of course, after we just discussed that you should develop a vision for your new home, we say that you should not talk in the home. Well, at least not in or in front of the home. Modern technology is really a marvel. How it can be used is sometimes just flat out scary. If you have a video door bell, then you know how good some of them can be. One model can hear a conversation across the street, much less in the front yard. You have to ask yourself, is that the only camera in the home? It may not be, so keep your conversation about the home to yourself or at least generic. Your conversation in another person’s home may not and likely will not be considered private. Conversation about the home and your personal views of it, could be used in the negotiation for the final sale price and the safety items you would like remedied.
Is this an issue in the industry? Not that I have heard of as of yet, you may want to inquire about it with your broker though. But what I have observed are video and audio enabled door bells and cameras that appear to be on while we are conducting an inspection. You should avoid conversing about the home in any way that would give the seller an advantage, keeping your conversation neutral would be the prudent course of action.
7) Ask Questions, Follow Your Inspector Around
Your inspector should be knowledgeable and service oriented. Service oriented means letting you follow him/her around to ask as many questions you would like to ask. The only place that you may be restricted from going is the roof, their insurance may not cover you in an accident. Your questions could be of a general nature. But, more likely, they will be about items that will be on the inspection report. That is vitally Important, because it helps you understand the item and give more context to the report. When we read items on a report, not matter how innocuous, it will always sound worse than if we see it in person. When major items are going to be included in the inspection report, you want them to be thoroughly identified and explained to you. This will help you to understand why it is being included and why it is important to your family or the negotiations. The inspection is purchased to find safety items and to better understand the general condition of the home, it is also important to use it as part of your financial decision.
Purchasing a home is a large part of your financial future and an inspection plays a part in making a good decision about that purchase. Having a plan on what to do and what to get out of the time while you are at the inspection will give you the best opportunity to make a quality decision.
We’ll see you at the inspection.
By Jeremy Strouse Home Inspector 10-8-2018