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 Andy Shapley — owner/inspector of Poseidon Home Inspections LLC, which covers Westchester, Putnam and Rockland counties — answers buyers’ FAQs.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.