5 home inspection mistakes to avoid
1. Not researching the inspector
Too many buyers and sellers take whatever name is recommended without doing research. The inspection is only as good as the inspector doing it, says Troy Bloxom, president of the National Association of Home Inspectors and owner of Home Inspections Plus.
A few questions to ask:
- How long have you been inspecting homes?
- How many inspections have you done?
- What are your qualifications, certifications and training?
- What was your job before you were a home inspector? (Ideally, your pro was in contracting or building.)
2. Not attending the inspection
Attendance may not be mandatory, but it’s a good idea. Just reading that inspection report isn’t enough for most homeowners to get the full picture. Set aside enou time for the whole thing. The inspection will take an entire morning or an afternoon. Some inspectors will sit with you after the inspection to explain things and answer questions. Many localities don’t allow inspectors to offer advice on whether to buy the home, but a good inspector can give you an estimate of how much money you’ll need to put into repairs and upgrades and talk about how well that fits your budget.
3. Not reading the inspection report
Too many buyers and sellers just glance at the inspection report. You need someone who uses “clear, concise” language in person and in written reports. One clue: Scan a few inspection reports. Either check the website or ask for a sample. A knowledgeable pro will state simply what’s wrong with the house and what it will take to fix. Reports are often in digital format, with photos to illustrate the home’s strengths and weaknesses.
4. Not getting a presale inspection
Many sellers elect to leave the presale inspection to the buyers. When the buyers get an inspection (and if they’re smart, they will), the sellers will have little time to complete repairs and keep the sale on track. But if sellers have the home inspected before putting it on the market, they have more time to get repairs done. With the extra time, they can shop around and control costs.
Both buyers and sellers often wait too long to engage an inspector. You should find an inspector long before you have (or make) an offer. Some buyers and sellers will wait for the second-to-last day before they even call. Any good inspector will be booked out.
5. Not prepping the home
Inspectors are peeved when homeowners don’t prepare the house. Don’t force the home inspector to empty the closet to get into the attic. If you have a crawl-space hatch, move anything sitting on top of it. Got a lock on a utility closet, basement or shed? The inspector needs access. So open it or provide keys. For a seller, the best tack is to be at home to meet the inspector, introduce yourself, provide your cell number — and then you can take off. To reduce the need for repeat inspections, hire professionals to do repairs. Too many times, when faced with a list of needed repairs, a seller will DIY or try to get them done on the cheap. But that shows up during the re-inspection and could mean another round of repairs — and a 3rd or 4th inspection.