Home Inspection FAQ
It’s completely normal to have lots of questions about the home inspection process. I have compiled a list of my most frequently asked questions below. If I don’t cover your question please do not hesitate to reach out. I’m here to help.
WHAT IS A HOME INSPECTION?
A home inspection is an objective, visual examination of the physical structure and systems of a home, from the roof to the foundation. Your home inspection report will include an evaluation of the condition of the home’s structural system (foundation), electrical system, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, plumbing system, floors, walls, ceilings, and appliances. The goal of an inspection is to make the purchaser more aware of the structure’s strengths, weaknesses and potential safety concerns. Having a home inspection by ABI is like test driving a car and taking it to your most trusted mechanic for a thorough check.
WHAT IS THE PROCESS OF A HOME INSPECTION?
Most people, if they’re lucky, only go through this “fun” process a couple of times in their life. It’s perfectly normal not to have a clue about what to expect with your inspection process. So, let’s break it down.
- Find a house.
- Make an offer to buy the house.
- Get an accepted offer from the sellers.
- Spaz out because you just a bought a freakin’ house, man!
- Once you have your offered accepted, you only have a certain number of days to get all inspections completed. This time frame is sometimes referred to as your “due diligence” period. Typically, the language I’ve seen in contracts ranges from 7-14 days. Understand that these are calendar days, not work days. Weekends and holidays are included in an inspection window. In other words, the clock is ticking so don’t put off calling to schedule your inspections.
- Find a really smart, handsome, and witty home inspector. I know a guy if you need some help with this step.
- Schedule the home inspection. Once we schedule a day that works for both of us, I’ll take care of getting everything lined out with the sellers and real estate agents.
- When the day of the inspection arrives, I encourage you to come hang out at the house. I like my clients to be present so we can talk about you, what your plans with the house are, and what you are worried about. I really think folks miss out on a lot if they can’t make it on inspection day. Try to attend if at all possible. I blogged about this topic here: Should you attend your Home Inspection?
- After we wrap up at the house I’ll head back to my office so I can start writing your report. I’ve been known to write really long and detailed reports, so this can take the rest of the day, sometimes into the next morning. Here are a few of my sample home inspection reports.
- It’s common to have questions after you read your inspection report. No worries; just give me a call and we’ll go over everything as much as needed. I’m always here to help.
- Once you get your home inspection report, you’ll want to sit down with your Realtor and decide what issues you can live with, and what you want to address with the sellers. You will put together a “repair request” from your inspection report that will get to sent to the sellers.
- Typically the sellers will counter back to your repair request with a list of things they are willing to do and not do. In the end, you as the buyer have the final say if you are OK with the terms or not.
- After the back and forth is over and everything is to your liking…Congratulations! You have bought a house. Most folks “close” within 30 days or so and take possession at that time.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN INSPECTING HOUSES?
About 14 years. Before that, I was swinging a hammer as a contractor. I grew up working on houses and have been tearing them apart and fixing them ever since. There is not much I haven’t personally done in construction, and that is one of the qualities that sets me apart from other inspectors in town. Those decades of experience really help me when performing home inspections. I can’t imagine trying to do this job without a practical working knowledge of houses, but there are many inspectors that try.
HOW MANY INSPECTIONS DO YOU PERFORM A DAY?
Typically no more than one. Every now and then I may do two small houses, but those days are few and far between. I typically spend 4, 5, or up to 8 hours at a house to do the inspection. And that time does not include writing the report. There are just not enough hours in a day to inspect more than one house and do the job well.
WHEN ARE YOU AVAILABLE FOR AN INSPECTION?
Availability varies by time of year. During the slower winter months, I typically book about a week out, give or take a day. The spring and summer months are much busier, and I often find myself booked two weeks in advance. It can be frustrating to people when they reach out and want me to perform their home inspection, only to find that I can’t get to within their inspection window. I am sorry about that, but it goes back on to my “one house a day” rule.
I will not water down my inspections or the quality of my work just to do more of them. In other words, I won’t cut corners in order to squeeze your inspection into the schedule. It’s not fair to you, and it ruins my reputation.
SHOULD I ATTEND THE INSPECTION?
Definitely. You can’t learn anything by staying away. I strongly encourage you to come hang out with me. You can read this post for more detailed reasons why. Should I attend my home inspection?
CAN I BRING PEOPLE TO THE INSPECTION?
If the house is vacant and empty, it’s not a big deal to have people come with you.
But if people are still living in the home, and all of their belongings are there, we cannot have a parade of people trampling through the house. Uncle Jimmy and Aunt Sue can see the house after you move in. For liability reasons, I cannot allow contractors or any other family members to come into the house without your realtor present to accompany them.
In all cases, be the house vacant or occupied, please remember that you and I are working during the inspection. I am trying to find potential issues and talk to you about the largest investment of your life, as well as concentrate on what I’m doing. The more people that are present, the more distracting it is to me.
A note about children: I know child care is expensive. I know that everyone is excited about their new bedrooms. I know that moving into a new home is a family experience. But when I have something important to talk to you about, such as the possibility that your new home’s foundation is failing, and your children are running around and yelling, it is very difficult to communicate. I strongly encourage you to make arrangements for your children to not attend the inspection.
CAN YOU DO A RADON GAS TEST?
You betcha. I’m one of only a handful of folks qualifed to do so in the area. Any Radon Gas test ran by someone who is not NRPP certified can be rejected by the seller of the home. Most people today are opting to run a Radon Gas Test in their new home. It’s just the smart thing to do. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the US, right behind smoking. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has labeled almost the entire state of Kentucky, including the Louisville area, as Zone 1, which is the highest warning level they issue. A test takes several days to run, so I try my best to set the machine up in advance. That way, we’ll have the data to review on the day of your inspection. If for some reason I can’t make it early, I’ll set the machine on the day of the inspection and go back a few days later. Check out this post if you wish to learn more about Radon Testing in Louisville KY.
WHAT ABOUT A WDI (TERMITE) INSPECTION?
No problem at all. I work with several great termite inspectors in town and can help you by scheduling one of them to show up during the inspection. It’s one less thing you need to worry about.
MY HOUSE HAS MANUFACTURED STONE ON PART OF IT. WILL YOU CHECK IT?
I will check it as much as I can. A true manufactured stone inspection requires drilling holes or cutting into the walls. I can’t do that on a house you don’t own yet. I do take non-invasive moisture readings as much as possible to try and find trapped moisture.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CODE INSPECTIONS & HOME INSPECTIONS?
Code inspections are inspections that are done by a “Code Inspector.” You have no choice in who will be your Code Inspector on your new construction or remodel. A code inspection is designed to assure that proper materials have been used, and that proper workmanship has taken place on all new or newly remodeled homes. It must be remembered that “meeting code” is the MINIMUM of acceptable quality. In other words, a Code Inspector will assure you that the products and materials used meet the minimally allowed standards, and workmanship is at the minimum quality allowed on a newly constructed or remodeled property. What you also need to know about “code” is that existing homes do not require “code” inspections when they are being sold. Code requirements change often as time goes by and code is not retro-active. A home built in 1955 or even 2005 will not, and is not required to meet today’s code; it is only required to meet the code of the time period in which it was built. You can read more about this topic here – Home Inspectors vs Code Inspectors.
WHY DO I NEED A HOME INSPECTION ANYWAY?
The purchase of a home is the largest single investment you will ever make. You should learn as much as you can about the condition of the home and the need for any major repairs before you buy, so that you can minimize surprises and headaches afterwards. A home inspection will also point out the positive aspects of a home, as well as the maintenance that will be necessary to keep it in good shape.
After the home inspection, you will have a much clearer understanding of the home you are about to purchase. If you have owned your home for a long time, a home inspection can identify potential problems and recommend preventive measures which might avoid costly future repairs. Home sellers may opt for having an inspection prior to placing their home on the market to gain a better understanding of the conditions that buyers’ home inspectors may point out. This provides an opportunity to make repairs that will put the house in better selling condition. Here, you can find wise words from a Realtor on why you NEED a quality home inspector.
MY UNCLE JOE WORKED IN CONSTRUCTION ONE SUMMER IN 86, CAN’T HE JUST DO THE INSPECTION FOR ME?
Even the most experienced homeowner lacks the knowledge and expertise of a professional home inspector. A home inspector is familiar with the many elements of home construction, their proper installation, and maintenance. He or she understands how the home’s systems and components are intended to function together, as well as how and why they fail.
Realistically, most buyers find it very difficult to remain completely objective and unemotional about the condition of the house they really want, and this may affect their judgment. For the most accurate information, it is best to obtain an impartial third-party opinion by an expert in the field of home inspection.
DO NEW CONSTRUCTION HOUSES NEED AN INSPECTION?
Absolutely. A professional home inspection of a new home is vital. We can spot potential problems early, while they are still easy to correct. It’s especially valuable to arrange an inspection before the interior walls are finished. As building professionals, we may find problem areas where the builder has taken shortcuts, made mistakes or has done sub-quality work. Don’t let the idea that, “It has to be correct since it’s built new” fool you. A perfect example can be seen here – Four year old deck on new home must be rebuilt.