Before: How to Prepare

If you are a first-time home buyer, the process of finding and purchasing a house can be stressful. There’s a lot to be done, from packing to moving furniture to changing your address. The last thing you want to worry about is prepping for the inspection. You can take a deep breath though, because this part is easy. You’ve found the perfect home, great location, amazing kitchen, you make an offer and it’s accepted. Now you can schedule your inspection. While there’s no “wrong” way to prepare for an inspection, here are a few things you can do to make the process a little smoother.

First, know your inspection period and plan accordingly. Often around 10 days, the inspection period is quite short considering all the things you may have to get done. A home inspection is completed in just a few hours, but it is important to have time to review the findings with your agent. Prioritize the recommendations made by your inspector and make a list of things to address with the seller. Doing this early allows the seller time to respond before the inspection contingency deadline. Other kinds of testing can take multiple days, such as water testing (up to 4 days) and radon testing (minimum 2 days) which is important to note in order to comfortably meet an inspection deadline.

You must also make sure you’ve opened your schedule. A home inspection can last anywhere between 2 and 4 hours, depending on the size and condition of a house. If you plan to participate, plan to be there for several hours so you can attend the inspection and have time to ask questions. If you have kids, relatives, or pets, it’s best that they have somewhere else to go during the inspection. You want to make sure the inspector has the space they need to do their job properly. When it comes to space, your inspector can only inspect and report upon what they can see and access. If possible, any tight spaces should also be more accessible, including underneath sink cabinets, crawl spaces, basement and attic entry ways, etc.

Do a little research and find a list of things your inspector will report on. You can find one on the Schaefer Inspection Service website using this link. You can be prepared to understand any number of issues that may arise and ask questions about the process as it progresses. Also know that there are some tests not included in a basic inspection, like a Radon test or a water quality test, that can be added upon request, usually for an additional sum. A list like this will likely tell you to keep all systems in the house functional during an inspection. Do not turn off any systems, they will need to be checked which involves turning them off and on. If you come across something in research you are particularly worried about, just ask your inspector about it. Never try to hide any potential issues. Your best option in any situation is to find the problem and get it fixed. Otherwise, you could be facing greater consequences down the line.

After: How to Use Your Inspection Report

You’ve just received your inspection report and it is long and detailed. It seems like another task you have to add to your list, but it really isn’t so daunting if you take some time and follow these steps.

The first thing to do is read over your report very carefully. There will be notes and suggestions within it that are important to the following steps. Inside the report will be a section for each system that was inspected. Some sections may suggest you seek help from a specialist. It is important to remember that a home inspector is a generalist and at times may suggest that you seek further information from a qualified contractor for repair and pricing. Read the sections regarding your roof, foundation, HVAC, electrical, and plumbing systems very carefully, as those are integral aspects of the home. Any recommendations noted in your report are important to follow up on, especially during your inspection period. This step is just as important than the inspection itself. After your inspection period, you can also use a pre-closing checklist to make sure that everything is as it was during the inspection. Things can, and sometimes do change in the time between inspection and closing. You also want to make sure any repairs that were agreed to be completed are done prior to closing. Use this list to review the state of the home before you close.

Your home inspector is tasked with looking at systems regarding safety, structure, and mechanicals. It is also important to understand that your home inspection is not a code compliant inspection. This is because home inspectors report according the State Standards of Practice. Code can differ between towns and counties and is updated on a regular basis.