Legally, there are no mandatory home fixes after a home inspection. However, when it comes to major problems that can affect the health, safety, and security of a home and its new owners, a lender may require that the issues be resolved before they provide the financing. For example, they will often require defects, such as structural issues, building code violations, or safety hazards in areas like attics, chimneys, or furnaces to be repaired. A home inspection is a great way to learn more about the home you are buying – and it safeguards you from getting stuck with any major repairs you didn't notice when you made the offer.
When the home inspection report is finalized, your inspector will give a copy to both your real estate agent and your lender. You should also request a copy for yourself. You can then use this report to negotiate with the seller about any recommended repair items. The seller can then choose to make the repairs, pay you an allowance to fix them, or renegotiate the terms of sale to exclude those items. You can also decide if the repair items are worth asking the seller to fix before finalizing the purchase or if you are willing to do it yourself.
While there are no set standards when it comes to the length of time it takes to inspect a home, the process usually takes about two to three hours. For larger homes or homes with additional features, this process will take longer, while for small homes and condos an inspection may only take an hour or two. A home inspection isn’t something you want to rush through. This is an important step in the home buying process and affirms the value of your investment.
As a buyer, it’s always a good idea to be onsite during the property inspection. You can ask questions on the spot, see any problem areas the inspector notes, and better understand the inspector's recommendations. You can also ask questions about the condition of the home and the best way to maintain it to avoid future repairs.
When your home inspector completes the inspection, he or she should provide your report in about a week. The report documents all findings along with recommendations for any repairs that should be made.
Home inspectors do not look at cosmetic issues. If there is a crack in the wall, they may note it, but if there is no underlying foundation issue, it will not be listed as an item for repair. They are not concerned with the state of the yard, landscaping, or any exterior items that do not affect the safety and integrity of the house. If you are purchasing a home with a well and septic system, you'll need to hire a technician to come out separately for those inspections. Depending on where you live, other items that may or may not be part of an inspection can include: - Landscaping and trees - In-ground sprinklers - Sewer - Swimming pool - Chimney and fireplace - Drainage - Floor coverings like tile, vinyl, or carpeting - Exterior items if covered by snow, like the roof or hardscaping - Evidence of rodents, mice, or rats - Wood-destroying pests, such as carpenter ants or termites
The home inspector looks for defects in the home that would affect the integrity of the structure or the safety of the house. This is strictly a visual examination, informed by training and experience. The inspector will not look inside the plumbing, sewer system, or behind walls, and won’t move items away from the foundation. Home inspectors report on what can be seen, not what can be found. Home inspectors often follow a checklist of items to inspect, starting at the roof and moving down to the foundation. A home inspection checklist usually includes: - Attic - Gutters and downspouts - Exterior siding, paint or stucco - Electrical panel, power outlets, and light switches - HVAC system - thermostats, furnace or hot water heating, air conditioner, and ventilation - Plumbing fixtures, faucets, and water heater - Appliances - Floors, walls, and ceilings - Windows and doors - Stairs, steps, and railings - Porches and balconies - Walkways and driveways - Basement - Garage
So, why can't you just hire a plumber, electrician, and foundation company to look at the house? That’s an option, but a home inspector is trained and certified to examine all systems at once without the extra cost or time. Plus, the home inspector has no vested interest in getting hired for possible future repairs, so you can trust their objective opinions.
Most of the time the homebuyer pays for the home inspection because it’s usually a requirement by their lender. However, sellers who may be concerned about what might be found in an inspection or would like to make any necessary repairs before their home is listed can also pay for their own pre-listing home inspection.
When the seller accepts your offer to purchase the home, the agreement becomes a pending sale. During the next couple of weeks, your lender will want to verify the value and condition of the house. This is when the lender orders an appraisal, and in some cases, an inspection – or you may choose to hire a home inspector yourself if the bank does not require an inspection. If you’re buying a home in a competitive housing market and are up against multiple offers, you may be tempted to waive the home inspection to make your offer stronger. However, this is almost never a good idea. While the house may look in fine condition to you, it’s what’s beyond the surface, or factors that you don’t know are problematic, that can cause the biggest issues.