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Questions to Ask a Home Inspector

By Bill Gassett | April 6, 2019

Questions to Ask Before, During and After a Home Inspection

When you are selling or buying a home, the inspection is one of the most significant hurdles to get past. Home inspections cause a lot of properties to come back on the market. From a buyer's perspective, they are also an excellent way to get educated on the home you're purchasing.

Making sure you ask the home inspector questions is vital both before, during and after the inspection. By asking a lot of questions you'll decrease the odds of making a serious home inspection mistake.

What Are The Most Important Questions to Ask a Home Inspector?

Dealing with a home inspection is something that worries a lot of people. In fact, it is one of the most critical parts of the sales process, and often the one we pay less attention to when it comes down to it. To make sure that your home inspection goes smoothly and gives you value for money, there are a few things you need to be aware of.

Your home inspector should be a professional. Most States now ask home inspectors to have professional qualifications and licensing. Avoid hooking up with a home inspector who does not have the necessary skill sets. There are national organizations that can recommend a qualified home inspector in your area.

Two sources are ASHI which stands for American Society of Home Inspectors and InterNACHI or International Association of Certified Home Inspectors. You can also use this guide on how to pick a home inspection company found at Maximum Real Estate Exposure.

What Skill Set Do You Have?

How long have you been a home inspector? Do you have any client references? How much will you be charging me?

Sure, it is great to know how much an inspector is going to charge you for a home inspection. However, there is something more important than the price. Finding out what experience your home inspector has of inspecting homes in the area is vital.

An inspector with a lack of experience, or not the right skill set, can make costly mistakes which can end up costing you a lot of money. The typical mistakes are misdiagnosing problems or missing them altogether.

Hiring your Uncle Bob who remodels homes can be a big mistake. Building contractors are not trained like home inspectors are to find all the issues in a home. Keep in mind, however, that even the best home inspectors are not going to be able to tell you everything about a property.

They are not fortune tellers and believe it or not don't have X-ray vision either. It is possible there are going to be things a home inspector won't be able to know about a property.

While a home inspector should strive to be concise and accurate, don't expect them to be miracle workers over the course of a few hours.

Potential Problems

What are some of the common issues I should be cognizant about?

Try to be there when the home inspector inspects the house. That gives you a chance to walk around with him or her. The inspection is a great educational process to understand exactly what you are buying. Learning the ins and outs of the home is vital to your long term enjoyment of your purchase.

Perhaps you had already spotted a few areas of concern when you walked around the property with your real estate agent. Point any issues out, and ask if they consider them to be a significant problem.

Areas of most concerns are building materials or nefarious substances. For example, Asbestos is still being found in a lot of older homes. Any asbestos found should be removed if it is not in outstanding condition. The removable process for asbestos is costly and must be dealt with by a specialist company.

Potential mold and damp areas are other red flags. They can hide problems, and you need to understand why they have not been dealt with if you want to avoid buying a money pit. Radon, a radioactive gas found in the ground can seep into our homes as well. It is a known carcinogenic that causes cancer from extended exposure. It's certainly worth testing for elevated levels.

Plumbing and underground systems such as oil tanks and septic tanks should also be checked out during a home inspection. You can see a list of potential home inspection deal breakers found at the ASHI website.

You'll see a list of all sorts of issues that could come up worth investigating.

Buying An Older Home

What are some of the more common problems found in an older home?

An older home can have more issues. One of the first things that should be established is the condition of any electrical wiring. It may simply not be up to modern standards and can cost a small fortune to fix.

Some of the more pressing issues with electrical systems are knob and tube and aluminum wiring. One or both may prevent you from getting a mortgage or insurance on the property.

Does the home have lead paint? If the home was built before 1978, the odds are pretty good it does. Understanding the lead paint law is vital when buying an antique. Here is what buyers and sellers should know about the lead paint law. If you have a child living in the property under the age of six it is imperative to be familiar with the inner working of the lead paint law.

Your real estate agent should also be well versed on lead paint as well.

Also, ask about insulation. Some older homes are well insulated, and others are not.

Having to insulate a home and maybe even replace the HVAC system are both expensive undertakings. Perhaps you can negotiate a better price once you have more details.

Issues With a New Home

Do newer built homes have fewer issues than older properties?

Many people incorrectly assume that if you are buying a newer home, there won't be any issues. Different regulations apply to homes built after a specific date. For instance, in new homes, HVAC systems need to have a different efficiency rating than in old homes. Your home inspector should be aware of that and should point out any problems to you.

Some states have stringent regulations, and you should perhaps make yourself aware of them so that you can ask the home inspector. If set standards are not met, you need to ask yourself what else is wrong with the property.

Can You Inspect a Foreclosed Home?

I am thinking about buying a foreclosed property - will I be allowed to do a home inspection?

Some banks will not allow home inspections in foreclosed homes. It seems a little bit odd on the surface of it, but it has to do with the fact that most bank owned homes are sold "as is" "where is". Often these bank will not want the home taken off the market while a buyer conducts a home inspection.

The percentage of banks that won't allow an inspection is smaller than it used to be. Just don't expect the bank to make repairs if they allow an inspection - that is highly unlikely.

Unless you are prepared and can do a lot of home maintenance yourself, buying a foreclosed home may not be the best idea.

Home Heating Systems and Air conditioning

The air conditioning and heating systems are a bit older than in some of the newer home we've been looking at. Is this a big concern?

A home inspection carried out properly will include checking service records for heating, gas and water appliances. If there has been a lot of call-outs more than regular maintenance, you need to look further into the reasons behind the call outs. Maybe the systems are old and need to be replaced.

Air conditioning units do not last forever. The average life span for an air conditioning unit is about ten to twelve years, and a heating system may need to be replaced every 20-30 years. Bear that in mind during the home inspection.

Final Thoughts

The ultimate idea of a home inspection is that it will save you money and help you to avoid buying a home which is going to cost you more than you would expect. Nobody goes into a home purchase thinking their buying a lemon. A thorough home inspection will confirm you are not.

When buying a home, especially for the first time, it makes sense to ask a lot of questions. The home inspection is not only an opportunity to discover any significant flaws but to educate yourself on what you're buying.

A professional home inspector can be a great advocate for determining whether you are making a sound purchase.

Other Realty Biz News Articles With Great Advice

The preceding real estate references are loaded with great real estate advice. If you are going to be selling your home take a look.

Bill Gassett is an authority in the real estate industry with 38 years of experience. Bill is well respected for his informative articles for buyers, sellers, and fellow real estate agents to make sound decisions. His work has been featured on RIS Media, the National Association of Realtors, Inman News, Newsbreak, Credit Sesame, Realty Biz News, and his own authoritative resource, Maximum Real Estate Exposure. He has been on of the top RE/MAX agents in New England over the last two decades.
  • 3 comments on “Questions to Ask a Home Inspector”

    1. "A home inspection carried out properly will include checking service records for heating, gas and water appliances."

      An inspector does not have access to this information. This is something the buyer should ask the seller for directly.

      1. Of course, they do. I am not sure where you are from Dennis but here in Massachusetts heating companies put the service record tags right on the boiler/heating system. They contain the current energy rating of the system, along with the date of service. Every inspector I know points this information out to a buyer. If for some reason the tags are not there, they would then suggest a buyer find out from the seller.

    2. This is an insightful and intelligent article. Home inspections are very helpful when purchasing a new home. If there are no big issues, it helps to diminish fears. However, if an bigger problem is found, this can give the home buyer a potential "out" from purchasing. Or the home buyer could ask the seller to fix the issue.

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