If you are buying a new home, a home inspection is your first line of defense in making sure you are making a good investment and buying a solid home. Your home inspector is there on your behalf and they are a wealth of knowledge. In fact, there are questions you should be asking your inspector before, during, and after they conduct their tour of the home.
The BEFORE Questions – This is your chance to interview your inspector to make sure they are knowledgeable and will be checking everything that’s important to you.
- What do you check? There’s a lot of square footage to cover, so you should be aware what exactly your home inspector is checking for.
- What don’t you check? They don’t look and check for every little detail. They can’t see behind walls and are limited to what they can see visually. They may flag something that you should ask an expert to take a more detailed look at like a plumber, HVAC tech, or roofer.
- What are your fees? You should always know the fees up front and ask if there are any extra fees for pest, water, radon, and mold inspections so you can plan accordingly.
- What’s your expertise and how long have you been doing this? You should always ask how long your inspector has been in the business and what qualifications they have. Experience isn’t everything, but if you are buying an older home, you may want someone who has experience working with historical properties.
- How long does it take, and can I see a sample report? If you haven’t been to a home inspection before, you need to know what to expect the day of, because of course you should be present during the inspection, and what the report will look like so you’ll know how to read and better understand it. It’s important to note that EVERY home will have at least a few things show up on the report, but it doesn’t mean that they are big issues. Knowing how to read the report is key to making decisions on what to do next.
The DURING Questions – Since you’ll want to be present during the inspection, you’ll need to know what types of questions you should be asking
- Can you elaborate or what does that mean? If the inspector points something out and you aren’t clean what it means or if you should be concerned, ask them to elaborate. It’s their job to make sure you understand any issues, why they are issues, and how serious an issue they are.
- Is this a big or small issue? Buying real estate is a big investment and you want to make sure you are making the right choice and paying the right amount. If your inspector starts mentioning plumbing or electrical issues, make sure you ask them how big a deal these issues are. A leaking roof could be a simple seal around a vent pipe or mean it could need a new roof, so it’s important to find out what the inspector’s thoughts are. Remember, most houses are in need of some repairs and it doesn’t always mean it’s expensive or a deal breaker.
- Don’t be afraid to point things out. See a weird water spot or uneven spot in the flooring – bring it to your inspector’s attention. Odds are they may have already noted it and need to check into it from either above or below to see if they can spot the issue, but if something is concerning you, then say something.
- How do I maintain this? If you are a first-time buyer or are buying a house with a feature you aren’t familiar with, this is your chance to ask the expert on how to properly care for it. They won’t be able to show you in detail, but they can probably give you an overview on the spot and show you a few things.
- What are your biggest concerns? This is a good one to ask at the end. Once the inspector has seen the whole house, they will be able to tell you the biggest issues they saw or make a suggestion for you to have an expert evaluation. While you will get a written report withing a few days, this is your biggest opportunity to ask questions about any major concerns they have.
The AFTER questions – Of course you will have some follow up questions once you see the final report. It’s usually quite a few pages and most likely includes some things you didn’t realize the inspector picked up on.
- Don’t understand – ask for clarification. This is your last opportunity to ask for clarification on something you don’t understand. If there is something you don’t remember and aren’t sure if it was an issue, don’t be afraid to ask about it.
- Can you give me an idea of costs? Many inspection companies now include an average repair cost guide with their report. However if you are unsure of a repair or replacement cost, your inspector should be able to give you a ballpark price. You can even ask him if any are over a certain amount or he things any are deal breakers.
- Should I get an expert for a second look? If you didn’t ask this question during the inspection, now is the time to ask it. You’ll only have so much time to address any inspection issues, so now is the time to find out if you need a second opinion or a cost estimate to go back to the negotiation table with the seller.
- What’s critical to fix/replace once I move in? This is super helpful to create a priority list of any repairs you need to handle yourself. Make a list of everything noted on the report and have your inspector help you determine what you should fix first vs. what can wait a few months, a year, etc.
You may find that after your inspection you need to go back to the negotiation table with the seller to have some items addressed. Check out this blog we wrote on renegotiating the sale price after your inspections. Everything you don’t ask to be fixed or compensated for – well, that’s now on your to – do list!
Vice President, Senior Mortgage Lender
NMLS MLO ID: 532621