If you recently bought a home and closing day is fast approaching, you might be excitedly counting the days until you can pick up the keys. But before you can start doing all the fun things — like choosing paint colors and shopping for new furniture — you have to get a few essential tasks out of the way.
You have to get a homeowner’s insurance policy, transfer utilities to the new house, and schedule a home inspection before you move in. Not sure about that last one? Hiring a professional to inspect your house will protect you from buying a home with hidden problems. So, how does a home inspection work, and what do home inspectors check for exactly? Here’s what you need to know before you schedule a home inspection for your new house.
The first thing to know about home inspections is they aren’t always required if you want to buy a house, but they’re highly recommended for every home buyer regardless. In fact, they’re so important that most real estate agents add a home inspection contingency to the contract. This clause means if the inspection doesn’t go well, the buyer can cancel the sale without penalty.
So, how does a home inspection work? In most cases, you’re supposed to hire a home inspector of your choosing to inspect your house as soon as possible after you sign the purchase agreement. In most states, you’re required to get the inspection done within ten days of agreeing to buy the house so you can request any necessary repairs within that timeframe.
Once you schedule the home inspection, expect to greet your home inspector at the new house. Walking through the home with the inspector is an excellent way to learn more about the house, including where any switches and panels are in case you ever need to shut off the water, electricity, or gas. The inspector should spend two to three hours checking the interior and exterior of the property and will likely point out any noticeable issues to you during this time. This will give you an idea of what kind of shape the house is in.
After the home inspection is complete, the inspector will put together a report to send you within a few days, and that’s where you’ll see more details about the home’s condition. You can expect the home inspection report to have pictures and detailed descriptions of any problems with the structure of the house and the major systems within it. The inspector won’t simply point out the issues but will also make recommendations on what to get fixed or replaced so you can make the final decision before you buy.
It’s a good idea to learn what details home inspectors will and won’t look at. While the inspection is more thorough than a quick walk-through of the house, keep in mind that a few hours won’t usually be enough to inspect every inch of the property. This means if you have specific concerns about certain parts of the house, let the inspector know beforehand to ensure they look at the issue.
So, what do home inspectors check during the inspection? In general, they will look at the following parts of your house:
- Gutters and downspouts
- Flashing, eaves, and trim
- Drainage in the yard
- Garage door and opener
- Doors and windows
- Ceilings, walls, and floors
- Porches, balconies, and decks
- Patios, driveways, and walkways
- HVAC system
- Plumbing, including pipes and faucets
- Smoke detectors
- Kitchen appliances
- Vents and exhaust systems throughout the house
- Electrical system, including wiring, outlets, light switches, and circuit box
- The overall quality of construction
As you can see, home inspectors will look at the most significant aspects of the home. But not every issue can be detected during the visit. And most inspectors don’t investigate some parts of the property, such as fences, boat docks, sheds, or septic tanks. If you’re concerned about hidden problems with specific aspects of the house, you should mention this to the home inspector. You can also schedule special inspections to check for issues like mold, asbestos, lead, pest infestations, etc.
Some home buyers are tempted to skip the inspection because of the cost. This is one of the closing costs you have to pay at the time of service, not the closing day. As a result, you should budget for this before paying other closing costs when you buy a house.
So, how much does a home inspection cost? The exact amount varies by location and home size, but it’s usually $300 to $500. And while this amount might be an unwelcome expense right before you move into a new home, it’s well worth it for what you get.
After all, it would be much more expensive to move in and then find out the plumbing system, roof, or air conditioner needs to be replaced. With a home inspection, you can become aware of these costs before buying the home. So, think of it as paying a small amount upfront for the chance to save a lot in the long run!
Let’s say you got the home inspection done and have the report in your hands. Now what? Well, it depends on what the home inspector found and how much you’re okay with repairing in your new home.
If the report states that the home needs some minor repairs and there are no major surprises regarding the house’s condition, you’ll likely want to go ahead with the sale. In that case, you can let your real estate agent know that you’re satisfied with the home inspection results and want to move forward.
If some unexpected issues would cost thousands of dollars to fix — but you still love the house — you should think about asking the sellers to make the repairs. If you want to close faster, you might instead ask them to reduce the price accordingly so you can afford to pay for the repairs after closing day. Either way, you can ask for some help from the seller, so you don’t have to shoulder the costs of repairs on your own.
But if it’s the worst-case scenario — meaning the home inspector finds significant issues that deem the house dangerous or even unlivable until substantial repairs are made — you should think about walking away from the sale. This is often the preferred route to take when repairs would cost thousands of dollars and several months to fix before you can even move in. As long as you have the home inspection contingency in your contract, you can refuse to buy the home at this point.
Getting a home inspection before the closing day is a good idea to protect yourself when buying a home. But it’s not the only way. Getting the proper homeowner’s insurance policy is another way to protect your interests as a new homeowner. For help getting the best policy for your needs, contact LemonBrew Insurance today!