Blog :: 07-2011

Home Inspections- What to Ask your Inspector!

We at Dousevicz Real Estate consistently advise our clients looking to buy a home or condo in Vermont to get a home inspection with one of our trusted inspectors. It not only offers valuable insight to the condition of the home, it offers great "piece of mind" for the buyers we work with that they know EXACTLY what they are getting with their new home purchase.

A Good Home Inspector will give you some great insight to your new home- today we'll address what you should ask them!

We find, however, that some homebuyers can get a bit intimidated with the process, and may not know what to ask their home inspector after they get the report, or during the inspection itself. Here are some helpful tips we found at Trulia.com. Enjoy! 1. How bad is it - really? The best home inspectors are pretty even keeled, emotionally speaking. Theyre not alarmists that blow little things up into big ones, nor do they try to play down the importance of things. Theyre all about the facts. But sometimes, that straightforwardness makes it hard for you, the homes buyer, to understand whats a big deal and what isnt so much - the information you need to know whether to move forward with the deal, whether to renegotiate and what to plan ahead for. Ive seen things categorized in home inspection reports under Health and Safety Hazards that cost less than $100 to fix, like replacing a faucet that has hot and cold reversed. And Ive seen one-liners in inspection reports, like extensive earth-to-wood contact result, after further inspection, in foundation repair bids pricier than the whole cost of the home! In many states, home inspectors are not legally able to provide you with a repair bid, but if you attend the inspection and simply ask them whether or not something they say needs fixing is a big deal, nine times out of ten they will verbally give you the information you need to understand the degree to which the issue is a serious problem (or not). 2. Who should I have fix that? I always ask this question of home inspectors, with dual motives. First, very often, the inspectors response is - What do you mean? You dont need to pay someone to fix that. Go down to Home Depot, pick up a ___fill in the blank__, and heres how you pop it in. Should cost you $15 - tops. And thats useful information to know - it eliminates the horror of a laundry list of repairs and maintenance items at the end of an inspection report to know that a number of them are really DIY-type maintenance items. Even buyers who are really uncomfortable doing these things themselves then feel empowered to either (a) watch a few YouTube vids that show them how its done, or (b) hire a handyperson to do these small fixes, knowing they shouldnt be too terribly costly. And even on the larger repairs, your home inspector might be able to give you a few referrals to the plumbers, electricians or roofers youll need to get bids from during your contingency period, which you may be able to use to negotiate with your homes seller, and to get the work done after you own the place. Dropping the inspectors name might get you an appointment booked with the urgency you need it order to get your repair bids and estimates in hand before your contingency or objection period expires. And same goes for any further inspections they recommend - if neither you nor your agent knows a specialist, ask the general home inspector for a few referrals. 3. If this was your house, what would you fix, and when? Your home inspectors job is to point out everything, within the scope of the inspection, that might need repair, replacement, maintenance or further inspection - or seems like it might be on its last leg. But they also tend to be experienced enough with homes to know that no home is perfect. Many times, Ive asked this question about an item the inspector described as at the end of its serviceable lifetime and had them say, I wouldnt do a thing to it. Just know that it could break in the next 5 months, or in the next 5 years. And keep your home warranty in effect, because that should cover it when it does break. This question positions your home inspector to help you:
  • understand what does and doesnt need to be repaired,
  • prioritize the work you plan to do to your home (and budget or negotiate with the seller accordingly),
  • get used to the constant maintenance that is part and parcel of homeownership, and
  • understand the importance of having a home warranty plan.
4. Can you point that out to me? Often, when you attend the home inspection, youll be multi-tasking, taking pictures of the interior, measuring for drapes or furniture, even meeting the neighbors, or fielding several inspectors at a time. Worst case scenario is to get home, open up the inspectors report and have no clue whatsoever what he or she was referring to when they called out the wax ring that needs replacement or the temperature-pressure release valve that is improperly installed. Your best bet is to, at the end of the inspection and while youre all still in the property, just ask the inspector to take 10 or 15 minutes and walk you through the place, pointing out all the items theyve noted need repair, maintenance or further inspection. When you get the report, then, youll know what and where the various items belong. (One more best practice is to choose an inspector who takes digital pictures and inserts them into their reports!) 5. Can you show me how to work that? Many home inspectors are delighted to show you how to operate various mechanical or other systems in your home, and will walk you through the steps of operating everything from your thermostat, to your water heater, to your stove and dishwasher - and especially the emergency shutoffs for your gas, water and electrical utilities. This one single item is such a time and stress saver it alone is worth the lost income of missing a day of work to attend your inspections. Looking to buy or sell real estate in Vermont? Call Dousevicz Real Estate today! 802-879-4477 or 802-238-9367.