How a Home Inspection Works
Once your home goes under contract, you’ve entered a process distinguished by a series of dates and deadlines. One element of the purchase process that tends to create a level of anxiety in Sellers is the home inspection At this point, your home has been on the market and you’ve had to deal with potential Buyers and real estate agents viewing, evaluating, and picking apart your home. Once the contract is signed, you will likely be facing the most intense scrutiny of all, the Home Inspection.
Nearly all of today’s Buyers seek the services of a professional home inspector to thoroughly evaluate of the house they’ve put under contract and determine if there are any issues with its structure or systems. The inspection is almost always scheduled during the Due Diligence period here in Georgia. The Buyer’s Agent will coordinate a date and time so that a professional inspector of the Buyer’s choosing, can perform the two to three hour inspection. The Buyer may or may not be present for the inspection. A home inspection ensures that the Buyer knows exactly what they’re buying, and it can be a nerve-wracking experience for both parties. The Home Inspection can potentially make or break the deal.
Buying (and Selling) a home is an emotional experience. The Buyers are making a big investment and if the purchase is intended as their primary dwelling, emotions are generally intense and run the full gamut. The inspector’s job is to evaluate the home and provide information that will either validate the purchase or…not. The inspection may uncover problems of which you are unaware. No wonder Home Inspections incur such apprehension! Let’s explore the process so you will know what to expect and at the very least feel a little more prepared for the big day.
A typical home inspection includes a check of a house’s structural and mechanical condition but can also encompass tests for radon gas, detection of wood-destroying insects and other services requested by the Buyer. In 1976, the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) standardized the home inspection process and established Standards of Practice which dictates what must be inspected as well as how the professional home inspector must report their findings.
What will the inspector be evaluating?
Well, according to ASHI, there are ten critical areas for inspection during the process:
- roofing system
- plumbing system
- electrical system
- heating system
- air conditioning system
- insulation and ventilation
Once the home inspection is complete, the inspector will submit a report to the Buyer detailing each area of the inspection and the findings. This report will note problems requiring immediate attention and conditions that could lead to more serious issues over time.
How You Should Prepare
There’s no hiding the truth of a home inspector’s findings, so the wisest way to head off potential problems is to evaluate your home before you even put it on the market. By choosing to list your home, you’ve entered a competitive market where quality work, steady maintenance and general care for your home will give you an advantage. If budget allows, plan on hiring a home inspector yourself, ideally before the Listing goes live. This allows you the opportunity to repair and improve the items uncovered in the inspection,or the chance to determine larger issues that should be disclosed up front. Ultimately, you’ll have a reference point by which to compare the results of the Buyer’s home inspection─and this is a big advantage which could prevent the loss of a sale. When your home is properly prepared for an inspection, everyone benefits. It reduces the time required to conduct the inspection resulting in less inconvenience and fewer disruptions for you. It makes it easier for the inspector and shows consideration for the Buyer’s time as well.
Remove obstacles such as personal property that may block the inspector’s access to the following:
- Electrical panels
- Heating and cooling equipment
- Water heaters
- Under-building crawl space access
- Attic space access through closets or garage
- Electrical outlets, especially ground fault interrupter type
- Under-sink areas
- Kitchen sinks
- Ranges and ovens
- Basement access
- Garage access
Remove locks, unlock doors and gates, or provide keys or other means of access so that the inspector can have access to:
- storage rooms
- electrical panels
Take measures to kennel, cage or otherwise remove pets that cannot be let out, that may harm the inspector or others present at the inspection, or that may be harmed by the inspection.
All space heating and water heating equipment should be operational. This means that standing pilot lights must be lit and gas valves for installed appliances must be open.All water, gas and electrical systems must be operational. If the inspector finds electrical circuit breakers in the off position, standing pilot lights unlit, or gas valves, water stops or main water supply valves shut off or other essential or major component controls disabled, the inspector will assume that they are malfunctioning or inoperable and the written report will state that operational status is presently indeterminable.
If the inspector operates a light switch for a permanently installed light fixture and the fixture has a burned out light bulb or no light bulb at all, the inspection report will state that the light was inoperable and will recommend further evaluation by a qualified electrician. To avoid this, replace burned out light bulbs or missing light bulbs in permanent light fixtures before the inspection.
Having clean eave gutters, properly extended downspouts, a roof that is in good repair, a clean furnace/air conditioning system filter, and intact cover plates on all electrical switches and receptacle outlets are among the things that reduce the number of conditions an inspector will have to report.
Although inspectors are not there to perform a “white glove” inspection, an environment that is neat and easy to maneuver in will present your home’s “best face” to the Buyer and will make the entire inspection process easier for everyone.
No home is perfect. If you’ve lived in the home for several years, chances are there are imperfections you don’t even notice. No matter who hires the home inspection service, you should expect to learn there are items which need to be addressed.
During the home inspection
Although it may seem counterintuitive, you should not to be at home during Buyer’s inspection. The home inspector needs to be able to do a thorough, detailed job without interference or interruption, and if the Buyer is along for the ride, they must be free to ask critical questions and to point out areas of concern. If you were in their shoes, you would expect the same, nevertheless, it can be make things awkward if you are present during the inspection. Best advice: get your home ready and make yourself scarce during this part of the process.
After the home inspection
Once the home inspection is complete, the inspector will submit the results only to their client, the Buyer (the law actually dictates this in many states). The discovery of major material issues could lead to further negotiations. Major issues discovered during the inspection (foundation problems, roofing concerns, faulty HVAC or plumbing systems) and the ensuing negotiations generally determine if the sale goes forward.
Your Realtor© will assist you in the process after the inspection. Remember, competent professional home inspectors provide their customers with unbiased and clear information. A good inspector will put the conditions noted in the course of the inspection in perspective. This allows Buyers to make calm and informed decisions about the information in the inspection report. Experience has shown that most Buyers are not obsessive perfectionists. Unless there are significant conditions which require immediate modifications or corrective measures, Buyers typically understand that your home is where people live and will anticipate a reasonable amount of normal wear and tear and minor deferred maintenance.