Buying Or Selling: What To Expect From A Home Inspection

While home inspections are common in the home-buying process, there is sometimes confusion about what exactly takes place and what a buyer or a seller should expect. 

Home inspections allow a buyer to identify any significant issues with a home before the closing and helps support the valuation of the property. But hiring a certified professional is critical. Not only are they experts trained in what to look for, but many lenders require licensed inspectors to evaluate the property's condition to ensure the loan they originate isn't risky. If a buyer makes an all-cash purchase, the same reasons still apply. Having the home or condo inspected by a professional provides peace of mind regarding the home's safety and helps ensure you get what you pay for.

In today's market, sellers of well-maintained properties rarely have to take less than the asking price. Pre-listing inspections can help sellers identify problematic areas and address them early on rather than have to negotiate expensive repairs once the property is under contract. 

What does an inspector check? 

Home inspectors provide a visual inspection of the components of a property that they can see or access easily. Accessible components inspectors check includes the attic, major appliances, ceilings, decks/balconies, doors, site drainage, electrical systems and panels, exterior walls, floors, fireplace, chimney, foundation, garage, HVAC, interior walls, irrigation, plumbing, roof, stairs, water heaters, and windows.

What is not covered in a home inspection? 

Cosmetic finishes/blemishes, concealed defects, geological/soil conditions, architectural/engineered systems, wood decay, termites or other organisms, hazardous substances, docks & boat-lifts, wells, septic & water treatment systems, security, intercom, tv cable & sound systems, central vac, elevators and dumb-waiters, areas covered by an HOA, efficiency or durability of a system or component, recalls, water fountains/falls & fire, smoke, and lethal gas protection devices.

As a Buyer, what if I suspect old wiring or plumbing?

Concealed defects are just that – concealed. Your inspector cannot see through or behind drywall or wood-covered walls. However, they will thoroughly check for any clues to these concerns by looking under the home's crawl space, checking all connections that enter/exit the house, and an extensive review of the electrical panels. The home's age & year built are also clues as to when upgrades may or may not have occurred.

According to the "National Association of Home Inspectors" website, "Home Inspectors are Generalists. Home inspectors are not experts in every home system but are generalists trained to recognize evidence of potential problems in the different home systems and their major components. Inspectors need to know when a problem is serious enough to recommend a specialist inspection. Recommendations are often made for a qualified contractor, such as a plumber or electrician, and sometimes for a structural engineer."

Can the Buyer attend the home inspection? 

Yes, most inspectors accommodate buyers who want to be present. Your inspector can review any significant findings toward the end of the inspection. If you are not able to attend, many inspectors can give you a call to discuss your inspection over the phone. 

Why should Sellers prepare ahead?

Following the inspection, a detailed report is provided to the buyer, noting problem areas or deficiencies observed during the inspection. If some areas were inaccessible, such as failing to unlock the attic, this would have been pointed out in the report, leading to worry and frustration for the buyer and potentially prolonging the inspection period. A little planning and preparation on the seller's part can ensure a smooth inspection.

How can Sellers prepare for an inspection?

For liability and safety reasons, inspectors cannot move any personal items. Boxes, bikes, and other personal items blocking access to a water heater or sub-panel should be removed by the owner before the inspection.

Here are a few more proactive tips to help you prepare for inspection day:

  • Changing air filters
  • Replace burned-out light bulbs
  • Raise all blinds & shades, so windows are accessible 
  • Unlock & provide clear access to the attic and crawl space hatch 
  • Clear and trim trees and shrubs near the home (within 4-6 inches of the structure)
  • Remove debris from gutters 
  • Sweep the roof if possible

Having a home inspection before listing your property for sale can go a long way to prevent deal-breaking issues. A thorough evaluation before purchasing can also ensure you make a sound investment, whether a first-time buyer or a seasoned homeowner/condo owner. 

All the tips and advice from this article were contributed by a local certified expert and owner of Beach to Bayou Property Inspections, Mason LaPlante. Reach out to Mason with any additional questions of your own or to schedule a home/condo inspection. 850.231.3313

Posted by Robin Maynard on


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