As a home buyer, it’s important to understand what’s involved in a home inspection. Read on to learn what you can expect to uncover during your home inspection, what you won’t see unless you bring in specialty inspectors, and what you can reasonably ask sellers to repair.
What You’ll Learn From a Home Inspection
The inspector’s report offers a professional opinion on the remaining life expectancy of components of the structure and electrical and other systems, and provides comments on needed repairs. A detailed home inspection usually takes around two to three hours. The inspector will examine:
- Other major mechanical systems
- Electrical systems
- Major appliances
- Paint and finishes
What you won’t learn from a home inspection
Inspectors typically have a sharp eye for issues, but they can’t see through walls. And, they usually don’t inspect with an eye toward interests outside the scope of their inspection, such as:
- Hidden mold
- Pests (unless required by state law)
- Other hazards that may require inspections by specialists
- Child safety
- Building code compliance
What You Can Reasonably Ask Sellers to Fix:
In general, you shouldn’t ask your seller to correct minor defects. Repairs you request should correct problems that significantly impact the value of the house, or the your use or enjoyment of it, such as:
- Leaking roof
- Major drainage problems
- Termites or other destructive insects
- Major foundation defects
- Other significant structural issues
- Major electrical problems
- Plumbing issues that affect use
- HVAC problems
- Other major mechanical issues
- Major safety issues
- Wildlife infestation (bats, squirrels, etc.)
- Large areas of decay or rot
- Significant mold growth
- Radon levels exceeding the EPA’s suggested levels
- Lead paint (you are required by federal law to disclose lead paint)
- Other major environmental issues
- Well water issues (poor water pressure)
Instead of asking you to make repairs, you can request a seller’s concession in the sales contract, which means you get a closing cost credit.
What You Should Not Expect Sellers to Fix:
Generally, sellers aren’t going to be receptive if you ask them to make cosmetic changes to the home or landscaping. They may also blow you off if you ask for very minor repairs – like a cosmetic crack in a concrete floor, loose fixture, issues with the shed, paint touch-ups, etc. Be reasonable with your ask and keep in mind that if it’s something minor you can do yourself quickly and affordably, it’s best to leave it out of your sales contract.
As a buyer, it’s up to you to make sure you’re satisfied with the results of your home inspection – and it’s up to you to request any necessary repairs. If you have any concerns about deep seeded issues, pay for a specialty inspector to come in and take a look. The peace of mind you’ll get from having an “all-clear” on your new home is priceless.
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