So you found the home you’d like to buy, but is it the RIGHT home? Are there any little (or big) problems on the horizon that you didn’t see on tour? Maybe. That’s why it’s important to learn more about home inspections – why you need one, what it includes, and how it works.

A home inspection is a comprehensive review of the systems, structure and general “health” of a home, conducted by a qualified, objective inspector. If there are any issues that may degrade the value of the home, or require immediate/near-term repairs, they should be revealed by a professional home inspector.

What is included will depend on the individual inspector, the local municipal codes, and the type of inspection you request. Here are some essential things you should always ask during the home inspection process.

What are your home inspector’s credentials?

You can ask your buyer’s agent to recommend a good, qualified, local inspector. You can also find one on your own. Either way, you should consider the inspector’s qualifications, confirm if they are bonded and insured, and if they meet the requirements to be licensed in your state.

You may also want to ask how long they have been in the business and request references from past clients. There are many state/national/international professional home inspector organizations; ask your potential inspector if they are a member of any of these groups

What is the Condition of the Roof?

When your home inspector is checking out the roof, ask them about the condition of the shingles. Are there any that are buckling or missing? How about the eavestrough? Is there an accumulation of asphalt granules in the gutters? Are there signs of major wear and tear? If so, the home may be in need of a roof replacement.

A roof replacement isn’t cheap, so you can always ask that the sellers take care of replacing the roof, or you can ask for a price reduction to compensate

How is the Plumbing?

A home inspector will evaluate drains, water heaters, pipes, water pressure, and temperature. If you’re with your inspector during the inspection, flush the toilets to see how they perform. Does the water stop running once the toilet is filled? How is the water flow from each faucet? Does everything drain properly? Are tubs secured properly? Your home inspector should also note any waters stains on the floors or ceiling as it could indicate a problem with the plumbing system. Ask if there’s galvanized-steel piping in the house as they can rust, affecting water pressure, or can even rupture. Does the house have any lead piping?

This is pretty common in older homes, but the lead piping can wear down over time and can get into the water supply, which is what you don’t want

How old is the Water Heater, Furnace, and Central Air Unit?

Knowing the age of these mechanical systems in the house and how often they have been serviced can allow you to figure out if the units are on their last legs and need to be eventually replaced in the near future. It is also a good idea to find out the age of your furnace, water heater, and central air because older, less efficient models can have a significant impact on your monthly utility bills.

A seller may decide to upgrade the systems themselves to raise the value of the house or lower the asking price to bring in more buyers. Home buyers can use the information from their professional inspection to come up with a competitive bid for the property as well as plan out their finances to replace old units

How would you fix this problem?

When your inspector notes an issue, ask them how they would go about fixing it. This will help you figure out what issues need serious work, and what issues can be patched up with a little research and DIY effort.

Don’t be afraid to ask about the severity of things the home inspector found, and ask your home inspector for any specialist referrals that seem relevant. Home inspectors know plenty of people through their trade and will often be able to send you toward someone they trust.

If repairs are more than you estimated when submitting you offer do not be afraid to renegotiate.

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