Frequently Asked Questions For Home Owners & Buyers
So you’ve found a house and made an offer, next comes the home inspection. But how does it work? Do I find my own, ask my agent for a recommendation? What gets inspected? How soon? These and dozens of other questions are perfectly normal to have, that is why we here at Vanguard Home Inspection have compiled this list of Frequently Asked Questions often heard from both home buyers and sellers about the general inspection process and happily provide them to you, along with answers, in hopes that you’ll benefit:
Frequently Asked Questions by Home Buyers —
- What Is An Inspection?
- Why Do I Need An Inspection?
- What Does An Inspection Include?
- When Do I Request An Inspector?
- Can A Building “FAIL” The Inspection?
- What If The Report Reveals Problems?
- If The Report Is Favorable, Did I Really Need An Inspection?
- Can I Inspect The Building Myself ?
- What Will The Inspection Cost?
- Should I Attend The Inspection?
- What Is A New Home Construction Inspection?
- Your New Dream House Needs a Professional Inspection
- It’s Brand New…What Could be Wrong?
- Peace of Mind
- What Is A “In Progress Inspection”?
- The Municipal Code Inspector Already Approved It
- My Builder Says I Don’t Need a Home Inspection
- Other Inspection Related Services
Frequently Asked Questions by Home Sellers —
- Easing The Transaction For A Home Seller
- Home Seller Disclosure Obligations
- Why Do I Need An Inspection?
- Do I Have To Repair Everything Wrong With The House?
- Do I Really Need An Inspection?
- What Is A Pre-Listing Inspection?
- Is There Anything I Can Do Better To Maintain My Home?
- Locating A “Qualified” Inspector
What Is An Inspection?
An inspection is a visual examination of the structure and systems of a building. If you are thinking of buying a home, condominium, mobile home, or commercial building, you should have it thoroughly inspected before the final purchase by an experienced and impartial professional inspector.
What Does An Inspection Include?
A complete inspection includes a visual examination of the building from top to bottom. A good inspector evaluates and reports the condition of the structure, roof, foundation, drainage, plumbing, heating system, central air-conditioning system, visible insulation, walls, windows, and doors. Only those items that are visible and accessible by normal means are included in the report, though there are ways to determine many potential “hidden” defects with the proper training and right equipment..
When Do I Request An Inspector?
The best time to consult the inspector is right after you’ve made an offer on your new home. The real estate contract usually allows for a grace period to inspect the building, typically about two weeks. Ask your professional agent to include this inspection clause in the contract, making your purchase obligation contingent upon the findings of a professional inspection.
Can A Building “FAIL” The Inspection?
No. A professional inspection is simply an examination into the current condition of your prospective home purchase. It is not a value appraisal or a Municipal Code inspection. An inspector, therefore, will not pass or fail a building, but will simply describe its condition and indicate which items will be in need of minor or major repairs or replacement.
What If The Report Reveals Problems?
If the inspector finds problems in a building, it does not necessarily mean you shouldn’t buy it, only that you will know in advance what type of repairs to anticipate. A seller may be willing to make repairs because of significant problems discovered by the inspector. If your budget is tight, or if you do not wish to become involved in future repair work, you may decide that this is not the property for you. The choice is yours.
If The Report Is Favorable, Did I Really Need An Inspection?
Most Definitely! Now you can complete your purchase with peace of mind about the condition of the property and its equipment and systems. You may have learned a few things about your property from the inspection report, and will want to keep that information for your future reference. Above all, you can rest assured that you are making a well-informed purchase decision and that you will be able to enjoy or occupy your new home or building the way you want.
Why Do I Need An Inspection?
The purchase of your home is one of the largest single investments you will ever make. You should know exactly what to expect — both indoors and out — in terms of needed and future repairs and maintenance. A fresh coat of paint could be hiding potential or serious structural problems. Stains on the ceiling may indicate a chronic roof leakage problem or may be simply the result of a single incident. A Certified Professional Inspector interprets these and other clues, then presents a professional opinion as to the condition of the property so you may avoid unpleasant surprises afterward. Of course, an inspection will also point out the positive aspects of a building, as well as the type of maintenance needed to keep it in good shape. After the inspection, you will have a much clearer understanding of the property you are about to purchase, and be able to make your decision confidently.
As a seller, if you have owned your building for a period of time, an inspection can identify potential problems in the sale of your building and can recommend preventive measures which might avoid future expensive repairs.
Can I Inspect The Building Myself?
Not Really – Even the most experienced buyer or home owner usually lacks the training, knowledge and expertise of a professional inspector who has inspected hundreds, and perhaps thousands of homes and buildings in their career. An inspector is equally familiar with the critical elements of construction and with the proper installation, maintenance and inter-relationships of these elements. Above all, most buyers find it difficult to remain completely objective and unemotional about the building they really want, and this may lead to a poor assessment. Besides, most Purchase & Sales Contracts call for a Licensed, Qualified or Certified Inspector to perform the actual inspection.
What Will The Inspection Cost?
The inspection fee for a typical single-family house will vary depending upon the size of the building, particular features of the building, age, type of structure, etc. However, the cost should not be a factor in the decision whether or not to have a physical inspection. You might save many times the cost of the inspection if you are able to have the seller perform repairs based on significant problems revealed by the inspector.
Should I Attend The Inspection?
It is not necessary for you to be present for the inspection, but you really should; it is a very good idea to be there. By following the inspector through the inspection, observing and asking questions, you will learn about the new building and get some tips on general maintenance. Information that will be of great help to you after you’ve moved in.
Your New Dream House Needs a Professional Inspection
Most Realtors and Attorneys encourage homebuyers entering into a contract for the building of their new dream house —whether it is custom or spec built — to retain the services of a professional home inspector during the construction of their new home. Homebuyers building their new dream house have many important decisions and considerations. They need to know that someone is looking out for them with independent, unbiased professional eyes.
What Is A New Home Construction Inspection?
A new home construction inspection (aka “in-progress” or “draw” inspection) is an independent, third party inspection to ensure that the work completed is in compliance with plans, specifications, and the construction schedule. Once a home is built, many conditions that could have been observed during construction are now covered and are no longer visible for inspection. Often a poorly installed/constructed condition that could have been visually reviewed during a construction progress inspection becomes covered or concealed later in the building process cause a potential financial burden for the property owner for future corrective action. For these reasons, it is important that a home be inspected during construction by the buyer’s representative whenever possible so that any reportable defects can be corrected before completion and transfer of title.
It’s Brand New…What Could be Wrong?
It is not good business to forego a home inspection on a newly constructed house, regardless of how conscientious and reputable your home builder is. In fact, its not uncommon to find more items of concern in new construction than with older, existing houses.
No home, regardless of how well it is constructed, is totally free of defects. The construction of a house involves thousands of details, performed at the hands of scores of individuals. No general contractor can possibly oversee every one of these elements, and the very nature of human fallibility dictates that some mistakes and oversights will occur, even when the most talented and best-intentioned tradespeople are involved. It is also an unfortunate aspect of modern times that some builders/developers do not stand behind their workmanship and may not return to fix or replace defective components installed after the sale is complete.
The Town Code Inspector Already Approved It
Often the builder/developer will state the home has been built to “code” and that it was inspected at different stages and signed off by the local jurisdiction. However, building codes are frequently “minimum in nature” — that is, the primary intent of building regulations (codes) is to provide reasonable controls for the construction, use and occupancy of buildings. The builder is responsible to meet minimal standards at best — you may want higher standards applied to your dream house. Also, it is an unfortunate fact of the hectic pace of construction, that local building department inspectors are often overbooked with inspections, which results in their spending a minimal amount of time at the construction job site and important details may be overlooked. Finally, jurisdictional inspectors are not concerned with workmanship as long as all the systems and components in a new home meet minimum code requirements.
Peace of Mind
A professional in-progress inspection is a great value to a new construction homebuyer because the home inspector will spend whatever time it takes to evaluate every readily accessible parts of the home they can safely reach and then prepare an inspection report containing their findings. This, in turn, will provide a “fix-it” list that can be brought to the attention of the builder/developer. Additionally the homebuyer has peace of mind in knowing they took the extra step in protecting their investment by helping ensure they are made aware of any overlooked defects.
In Progress Inspections
A new construction progress inspection by a qualified professional allows the inspector to become the “eyes of the homebuyer” through a series of inspections that occur during different stages of the construction of their new home. Typically, these inspections are performed at the following stages:
- Foundation form work before concrete placement
- After installation of support posts, beams and floor joists
- After installation of all rough framing, rough electrical wiring, heating/cooling duct work and the building’s sanitary pipe drainage and potable water supply systems
- Exterior siding(s) including roof coverings
- Final “walk-through” inspection checking all visually accessible systems and components such as: heating/cooling, electrical and plumbing systems including safety items such as; smoke detectors, stairs, handrails and guard railings, compliance with emergency-egress requirements, and proper installation of safety/tempered glazing within hazardous areas.
My Builder Says I Don’t Need a Home Inspection
It is important to let your builder know up front that you intend to have the work inspected by an independent third party construction expert. This will help set a tone with the builder and let them know that you expect things to be done properly. Ideally, you will want to start communication with your inspector as soon as you sign a contract with your builder. It is recommended that have a professional inspection of the foundation prior to the pour. A follow up inspection should be conducted after the foundation has set up.
Other Inspection Related Services
In addition to performing building inspections, many professional inspectors help with analysis and solutions to specific problems, such as foundations, energy conservation, and roofing problems. Certified Professional Inspectors like us are also frequently called upon to review restoration and home improvement plans as well as maintenance specifications, contracts and progress inspections for new construction to help ensure proper completion of contracted work.
Easing The Transaction For A Home Seller
Home sellers are being urged to utilize home inspections prior to listing their homes. Professional inspections can discover unknown conditions allowing sellers an opportunity to perform desired repairs before placing the property on the market. A professional “listing inspection” is just good business, it may facilitate a smoother transaction by putting potential buyers at ease, reducing negotiating points, and bypassing annoying delays.
Home Seller Disclosure Obligations
Most state laws that it is the duty of a seller to disclose relevant facts concerning the property for sale through a written Property Disclosure Form. This basically means a seller has a legal obligation to disclose all of the conditions of the property know to them to perspective buyers, which is often accomplished through use of a “Disclosure Statement.” While the listing inspection report cannot be used as a substitute for that disclosure, it does allow the seller to provide prospective buyers with additional information, based on an unbiased, third party, professional inspection.
Do I Have to Repair Everything Wrong With The House?
A listing inspection report is not intended to be a “do” or repair list for the home. Sellers are not obligated to repair any conditions noted in the report, nor are they required to produce a flawless house. With a pre-listing home inspection, potential repair items already known by both parties are subject to any negotiations. A home seller can make repairs as a matter of choice, not obligation; to foster good will or to facilitate the sale. Sellers maintain the legal right to refuse repair demands, except where requirements are set forth by state law, local ordinance, or the real estate purchase contract
What Is A Pre-Listing Inspection?
An inspection consists of a non-invasive physical examination of a home’s systems, structures and components intended to identify material defects that exist at the time of inspection. The heating and cooling equipment is activated along with operating plumbing fixtures, testing accessible electrical outlets and fixtures, and operating a representative sampling of doors and windows. Visual inspection of the roof, walls and drainage adjacent to the home are included. Because of the wide range of construction practices and the “normal” wear and tear placed on the components of home, a professional home inspection can help provide a wealth of information to a home seller anxious to convey the condition of their home to perspective buyers. Though not yet common in Tennessee, we here at Vanguard Home Inspection do perform Pre-Listing Inspections upon request.
Do I Really Need An Inspection?
As a seller, if you have owned your property for a period of time, an inspection can help identify potential problems and recommend preventive measures, which might avoid future expensive repairs. There is no such thing as a home that is too new or too well built to benefit from a professional inspection. Anyone advising against an inspection is doing a disservice to the homebuyer. Many problems frequently encountered after the buyer moves in, are a routine discovery for a qualified home inspection.
Is There Anything I Can Do Better To Maintain My Home?
Inspection reports often identify the same neglected maintenance items. Performing some basic maintenance can help keep your home in better condition, thus reduce the chance of those conditions showing up on the inspection report. To present a better maintained home to perspective buyers follow these tips. generally consider by most real estate professionals to be very important to help ensure a hassle-free sale. Most of these items can be accomplished with little or no cost, while the benefits of selling a well maintained home can be worth the effort.
- Clean both rain gutters and any roof debris and trim back excessive foliage from the exterior siding.
- Divert all water away from the house (for example, rain-gutter downspouts, sump pump discharge locations, and clean out garage and basement interiors.
- Clean or replace all furnace filters.
- Remove grade or mulch from contact with siding (preferable 6-8 inches of clearance).
- Paint all weathered exterior wood and caulk around trim, chimneys, windows, doors, and all exterior wall penetrations.
- Make sure all windows and doors are in proper operating condition; replace cracked windowpanes.
- Replace burned out light bulbs.
- Make sure all of the plumbing fixtures are in spotless condition (toilets, tubs, showers, sinks) and in proper working order (repair leaks).
- Provide clear access to both attic and foundation crawl spaces, heating/cooling systems, water heater/s, electrical main and distribution panels and remove the car/s from the garage.
- And finally, if the house is vacant make sure that all utilities are turned on. Should the water, gas or electric be off at the time of inspection the inspector will not turn them on. Therefore, the inspection process will be incomplete, which may possibly affect the time frame in removing sales contract contingencies.
Locating A Qualified Inspector
It is imperative that the seller secures the services of a qualified home inspector. Make sure to hire an inspector who is both trained and experienced in home inspection, maintains proper insurance, and is a member of a professional association such as the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI).
Home inspection is not a new profession in Tennessee and thus requires a license and insurance by the state. At present, anyone meeting the minimum requirements can be a home inspector. Therefore, you must exercise extreme care and cautious consideration before hiring just anyone. Select your home inspector with the following criteria in mind:
- Professional Affiliation: There are standards for home inspectors that have been offered by various trade associations, one of teh most stringent being InterNACHI. Membership in this professional association requires obtaining initial training, passing a rigorous membership exam, and mandatory adherence to professional standards of practice and participation in ongoing yearly education. When you choose a home inspector, you should specify membership in iNACHI.
- Inspection Experience. Of paramount importance is an inspector’s actual level of direct experience in the practice of home inspection. A general contractor’s license can be an important credential, but when it comes to home inspection, a license to build indicates very little as it relates to competence as a property inspector. The experience that matters most is specific home inspection training and experience, not building experience.
- Avoid Price Shopping. Home inspection fees vary widely. A home is the most expensive commodity you are likely to purchase and or sell in a lifetime. One defect missed by your inspector could cost 100 times what you save with a bargain inspection. The best method of price shopping is to shop for quality. Considering the high cost of real estate today, an inspection fee is a small price to pay. It can save thousands of dollars and years of regret.
Don’t forget to look in our Construction Library for other answers to questions that you may not even know you have yet. Issues like Mold, Asbestos, Radon, Stucco, and more are included, along with information regarding various building construction items, techniques and reports.
It is our wish that you browse through these reports and see how they relate, if at all, to your circimstance and whether or not to perform additional inspection serves over and above a good old fashioned structural inspection.
Then when you’re ready to order your inspection you’ll be armed with the knowledge you need to pick and choose what services that would be best for you.
If you don’t see something you need please contact us and we’ll do our best to get you the information you desire.