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Before you move into your home sweet home, it’s important to schedule an inspection to make sure the property is good to go.
Okay, the hard part is over. You’ve finally found a house where you want to spend your life (or at least several years), and your offer has been accepted. Now it’s time for the home inspection, the purpose of which is to protect the buyer by revealing any problems (such as structural, electrical or mechanical flaws) they may not have noticed themselves.
Here Andrew Shapley — owner/inspector of Poseidon Home Inspections LLC, which covers Westchester, Putnam and Rockland counties — answers buyers’ FAQs.
Should the buyer go to the inspection?
Absolutely. The inspection should not only be about identifying issues with the house, but also an educational experience for the buyer about the house, its components, and how they work.
Is there anything a buyer can do before the inspection?
Any research the buyer/agent can do prior to the inspection is helpful — especially if the original building plan/property card can be obtained from the municipality to identify any permitted (or non-permitted) work that has been performed on the house.
What are some red flags one should look out for when touring a home?
Pretty much any problem can be fixed for a price. It’s really up to the buyer how much they are willing to pay to correct issues. Major expenses would be structural issues (significantly sagging floors, large cracks in foundation that have evidence of movement/displacement), wet basements that have evidence of prolonged/repeated water issues, and significant mold like growth inside the house. The most common larger expenses that I come across would be older roofs, older windows, and basements or crawlspaces that need waterproofing.
Should the buyer be concerned about smaller issues?
The worst thing for a house can be a lack of maintenance: Small issues that can be corrected easily or cheaply can grow into significant expensive issues if not maintained. Buyers should pay attention to the condition of the exterior of the house: Has siding and trim been maintained regularly? Is there moss build up on the roof? Are there multiple issues with masonry around the house (cracked or leaning retaining walls, cracked walkways, patios, or driveways)? These are all things that need regular maintenance.
What should a buyer look for when hiring a home inspector?
Make sure they are licensed by the state to perform home inspections. An inspection on a typical 2,000-sq-ft house should take 2½ to 3 hours depending on the condition of the house.
- Ask the inspector how long they think the inspection will take. If they say an hour or 90 minutes, do not use them.
- When the client calls, does the inspector go through the process with them or just quote them a price?
- Does the inspector belong to any professional organizations? ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors) is the most well-respected organization for home inspectors and requires its members to complete continuing education courses annually.
- What type of report will be produced after the inspection? Does it include pictures, diagrams, and narrative or is it just a bunch of check boxes? The inspector should take some time to digest all of the information that was gathered during the inspection and create a report that is detailed, comprehensive, and includes pictures.