Our last blog article listed some questions to ask BEFORE your home inspection. Now we’re going to focus on questions to ask DURING your home inspection.
1. How bad is my home inspection – really?
At Semper Fi Home Inspections, we provide you with a thorough and optimistic assessment of the home you are considering buying. Our home inspection reports are all about the facts.
We also know that a homebuyer may have trouble understanding what’s a big deal and what isn’t so much – the information you need to know whether to move forward with the deal, whether to renegotiate and what to plan ahead for.
And some repairs are much more critical – and costly – than others. For example, a faucet that has hot and cold reversed may be listed under Health and Safety Hazards – because if you turn on the cold water full blast, it could surprise you, and even burn you, if it’s hot instead. That repair should cost less than $100 to fix.
Or you may see something like “extensive earth-to-wood contact”, which could sometimes (but not always) result in very expensive foundation repairs. Reading a line item like this in a home inspection report may not make you realize the importance.
Home inspectors are not allowed to provide a repair bid in your report. But if you attend the home inspection, your inspector will likely point out some of these items, and you can ask if that repair is a big deal. Often you will get more detail about why they are considering the issue important to add to the report, which can help you better understand.
2. Who should fix the home inspection item?
While home inspectors cannot provide repair quotes or some other information, asking this question could provide you some good insight. Sometimes the inspector could tell you it’s a small item you can pick up at the home supply store for $5 and install with a screwdriver – which would be helpful to know. These type of do-it-yourself maintenance items could easily be taken care of by you, or any “handyman.”
For larger needs, a home inspector could likely tell you, for example, that things dealing with a plumbing or electrical system would need to be performed by a licensed professional, especially if potential code issues may be involved. Between your home inspector and your real estate agent, you should be able to get a few referrals and bids for the projects during your contingency period, which you may be able to use to negotiate with the seller.
3. If this was your house, what would you fix, and when?
Your home inspector knows that no home is perfect. This question positions your home inspector to help you:
- understand what does and doesn’t need to be repaired
- prioritize the work you plan to do to your home (and budget or negotiate with the seller accordingly)
- get used to the constant maintenance that is part of homeownership, and
- understand the importance of having a home warranty plan.
A good example of this – your home inspector may describe an item “at the end of its serviceable lifetime”. If you ask what they would do with this item, they may say they would not do anything, just realize that it could break in the next few months or years, and to keep your home warranty in effect so that it may be covered when it does break.
4. Can you point that issue out?
Most prospective home buyers are doing several things when they attend a home inspection, such as taking photos, measuring walls or windows, and even meeting neighbors.
The hardest thing would be go get home and open the home inspection report – which Semper Fi Home Inspections emails to you the same day, with full color photos – and have no idea what they’re talking about when a was ring needs replaced or a valve somewhere is improperly installed.
Before you and your home inspector leave the property, at the end of the inspection, ask your inspector to take 15 minutes and walk you through the property, pointing out items they’ve noted in need of repair, maintenance, or further inspection. This way, you will have a solid understanding of everything in the report, and the photos in the home inspection report will help you remember what you saw and discussed.
5. Can you show me how to work that item?
All houses have slightly different ways to operate systems – and home inspectors have seen hundreds or thousands of different systems. And, in almost all cases, they have to test them all. This means they also learn how to make them turn on, off, and otherwise woork.
Most home inspectors are happy to show you how to operate various mechanical or other systems in the home, and will walk you through the steps of operating everything from the thermostat, to the water heater, stove and dishwasher – and especially point out where and how to operate the emergency shutoffs for your gas, water and electrical utilities.
This one single request is such a time and stress saver for a new homeowner, it alone is worth time off of work to attend your home inspection.
Don’t miss our next blog post on what inspection items should raise red flags.
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