You pick up your glass, take a big gulp of your tea only to realize it is coca cola. While you may like both drinks, the surprise of getting something different than you planned isn’t always pleasant. In the same way, most people don’t enjoy unfulfilled expectations or unpleasant surprises.
When you are buying a home you definitely are wanting to avoid the unexpected. That’s one of the main reason people hire home inspectors. Knowledge and education can bring peace to an otherwise stressful time. We often say our goal is to take the ugly surprises out of owning a home, whether you are buying, selling or looking for answers in a home you already own.
It is also important to know what to expect from your home inspection. Having the right expectations can make all the difference in how you read your inspection report, and can help you in your decision-making process.
First, many people look at the summary as a list of repairs required to be completed as part of the transaction. In reality, our summary is simply a list of things the inspector believes can possibly have the most significant negative impact on you or your family. Yes, they are probably the first things you will want repaired but whether that is by the current owner or by you after you move depends on a number of things. Your real estate agent’s responsibility is to guide you in what they believe you might want addressed as part of the transaction. Our job is to educate you on the condition of the home and the significance of what we find without any destructive testing or crystal balls. We do not have a Real Estate Agent license and legally cannot advise you on what things should become part of the transaction.
We do believe you should have a thorough inspection, even if you are purchasing the home “as is”. The inspection will enable you to make decisions on repairs, some of which can prevent costlier repairs later.
So, what is a thorough inspection? It means we will strive to not only meet the state Standard of Practice but where possible, exceed them. For example, the standard requires one outlet to be inspected in each room. Our inspectors will test each accessible outlet. This does not mean we exceed every Standard but rather we try to obtain as much information about the home as we can in the limited amount of time we are in the home. If you were willing to pay for the time, we’d prefer to take an entire day or perhaps even longer in large homes. We might even bring in a specialized contractor or two as part of the process. The reality is that a home inspection as defined by our Standard of Practice is designed to provide you with the minimum amount of information. We give you as much as we can in the time allotted. If it is your desire, we will arrange for a more comprehensive inspection but even that is limited by the amount of money you are willing to spend and the timeframe in which you can arrange for us to work.
Do all inspectors find the same items? If you walked through a store several times looking at signs and products you would see some things each time that you didn’t see before. However, the systems that are not functioning properly, significantly deficient, unsafe, or are near the end of their service lives, should be the same between different inspectors.. Each inspector may notice a few different smaller items, but the significance or cost to remedy the defect should be minimal.
What about cosmetic items? In general inspectors are not looking at the cosmetic items in a home. Usually those are things the buyer can see and has already determined if they make a difference in their decisions. If the cosmetic item, such as poorly painted exterior trim, can lead to later damage, in this case rotted wood, they will be notated. This is especially true on new construction. While we would report upon an 18” hole in the wall behind a door we wouldn’t report upon holes from hanging pictures.
Last, the home inspection tells the story of the home on the day and time of the inspection. It is possible for things to change prior to closing or moving in. We personally sold a home and after the contract was signed we had a pipe burst in a bathroom. Of course, we fixed the pipe and damage, but there was no way an inspector could have anticipated the event. Homes are continually changing and not everything can be foreseen.
Again, our goal is for you to feel comfortable with the condition of the home and to have the information you need not only for the transaction but for an enjoyable time in your new home – without ugly surprises.