How to prepare for an inspection
For sellers, understand that no home is perfect. Every inspector will find problems, ranging from major damage to minor maintenance issues. Even new homes are not immune – they could have problems with the plumbing, electrical system, heating and cooling system, or the roofing system just to name a few.
It’s important to be aware of any issues your home may have prior to putting it on the market. Getting a pre-listing home inspection will ensure that you’re aware of any problems and can take care of them on your terms – or present them as-is and adjust your selling price proportionally. The alternative leaves you open to costly surprises and delays, and even potential deal-breakers once you’ve entered negotiations with the buyer.
Make sure the inspector has access to all major components such as the electrical panel, water heater and attic access openings. Inspectors typically will not move a homeowner’s stuff to create access.
If your garage looks like this, make sure everything is accessible
And while it is your home, it’s usually better not to be present during the inspection. The presence of the seller is often uncomfortable for buyers.
For buyers, an inspection is vital to uncovering issues a home may have that are invisible to the untrained eye. Even if the inspection finds more problems than you’re comfortable with and you move on to a different home to start the process all over again, it’s money well spent. An inspection will give you the opportunity to ask the seller to make the repairs before you buy, or to back out of the contract. So be sure to ask for the “inspection contingency” when you begin to enter negotiations with the seller. This allows you to set a limit on the cost of repairs to the home. If the inspector estimates that repairs will cost more than the limit, the contract is voided. It is a good way to protect yourself from ending up with a home that requires repairs that you are unable or unwilling to pay for.
Make a list of issues you are concerned about or have questions about. Your inspector should be happy to answer any questions you have.
Ideally, buyers should attend the inspection. While it’s not necessary to follow the inspector around every minute, it’s very helpful to be able to see problems while the inspector explains them to you. This is also your chance to become familiar with the home and its systems as well as exactly what repairs the inspector recommends and why. The inspection is a great time to find out where the home’s water and gas shutoffs are and where the main electrical disconnect is.
After the inspection, you will receive a written report with photographs that explains what was inspected, what condition things were in, what needs to be fixed or replaced along with the significance of those repairs and what you might expect to replace in the near future. If the report is well written, you should have all your questions answered. If not, feel free to call your inspector for further explanation.