Beginner’s Guide to Home Inspections

You ABSOLUTELY need to get one!

You’ve found a house that you absolutely LOVE! Now what? The first step is to schedule a showing with the listing agent. If you still love it after seeing it in person and you are serious about buying it, go ahead and schedule a home inspection!

Home inspections are absolutely necessary! Inspectors can easily spot problem areas of the house that you will probably miss.

For example, you might see a crack in the wall and think “oh, no big deal, it’s probably just the drywall,” but the inspector will be able to tell you if that crack is the result of something serious like a foundation issue.

For us, we didn’t have to think twice about getting one. The home we fell in love with (the one we bought) was built in 1917. That’s a LONG time for problems to arise!

We were a little nervous about getting an inspection. What if there was something majorly wrong? How much do inspections cost? Do we have time to look for another house if this one falls through?

Those were only some of the questions running through our minds before the inspection.

To ease our minds a little, we decided to accompany our inspector as he did his thing, which brings me to my first point of this guide.

Follow your inspector as they do their thing.

This is huge! Make sure you grab a pen/pencil and some paper and write down EVERYTHING they say.

It doesn’t hurt to take pictures of things, too. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions! YOU’RE paying THEM to make sure your future house is safe and worth the investment.

What questions should you ask?

We personally made an outline, section-by-section, of questions to ask. Here are some of the things we asked (feel free to ask more or less, this is just what we did!):

  • Foundation: Any foundation cracks? Are the floors even? Any leaks? What type of foundation is it?
  • Electrical: Are the outlets grounded? Is there any knob-and-tube wiring? How old is the wiring? Is the panelbox organized and labeled? What type of fuses are in the panelbox? Do all of the outlets and lights work? Are there GFCI outlets in the bathrooms? The rest of the house?
  • Water/Plumbing: What kinds of pipes run through the house? Was the home winterized? Are there any leaks? How old is the water heating system? Where is the water meter? Is it city water or well water? Do all of the toilets flush? Do the sinks run? Does the hot water work? What’s the water pressure like?
  • Windows: Are any windows cracked? How many panes of glass are there per window? What are the window energy ratings? Do all of the windows open and close with ease?
  • Doors: Do all of the doors open and close? Are exterior doors able to be locked?
  • Heating/Cooling: What type of heating? How old is the heating system/furnace? Does the heat work? Is there central air? Does the air conditoning work? Are the air ducts clean? Do the thermostats all work?
  • Applicances: Do they all work? How old are they? Will they need to be replaced soon?
  • Roof: How old is the roof? Does it need to be replaced soon? What type of roofing is it? Does the roof leak at all? Is there any evidence of ice dams during the winter?
  • Insulation: Is the home well-insulated? How much insulation is in the walls/attic? Would this home be efficient in the winter?
  • Mold/Water Damage: Is there any mold in the house? Is there any dampness or water damage?

Sorry if I forgot any questions! Feel free, again, to ask your own or ask your inspector to narrate everything they do. Most of them are more than happy to get you involved!

What are some major things to watch out for?

If the home has any of these issues, you might want to reconsider purchasing it:

  • Electrical problems: Not only is re-doing the electrical on a house EXPENSIVE, but ungrounded and faulty wiring can cause major fire and safety hazards.
  • Foundation issues: If the home has foundation issues, you might want to steer clear. These issues can lead to collapse, wall/floor sagging, and foundations cracks can lead to water damage, which can be expensive to resolve.
  • Roofing: Unless you have a bunch of money to re-do the roof right away, stay away from damaged and old roofs. They are expensive to replace, and they can lead to water damage/roof collapse!
  • Heating/Cooling problems: Again, HVAC is super expensive to re-do. and fix!

Again, not all of these issues are a death sentence! If you have the money to fix these potential problems right away, go for it! But most of us don’t, and since this blog revolves on staying within a budget, I highly recommend NOT buying home with these issues.

How do you find the right inspector?

Research, research, research!

Do a quick Google search on inspectors in your area. Google Reviews are a great way to find out if a company is reputable and does good work. Most companies will also list their inspection costs on their websites, too.

You can also call around to figure out cost, availability, etc.

I’ve found that most home inspections cost less than $300. Sure, it’s a pretty penny, but it’s definitely a MUST when going through the home buying process.

Final takeaways:

Remember, inspectors aren’t perfect. There’s a chance that they might miss something, but if you do your research and compile questions to ask during the inspection, you should be covered!

Also, don’t stress if the house you wanted ends up being a hazardous and broken-down mess. There are HUNDREDS of other houses you can get within your budget that have fewer problems.

If you’re reading this in order to prepare for an upcoming inspection, then good luck! I hope everything works out for you!