When you’re getting ready to buy a property, whether it’s for you and your family to live in, or for you to use as an investment vehicle, you should have a property inspection done. A home inspection costs, on average, $315, but can help you find anything wrong with the home proactively—and potentially adjust the sale price accordingly.
Otherwise, if you buy the home and realize later that there’s something seriously wrong with it, you’ll be stuck with paying for the repairs yourself, potentially rendering your investment wholly unprofitable.
So what is it that you should look for during a property inspection?
What to Watch
Your home inspector will check dozens of things within your property, but these are 10 of the most significant items to watch and consider:
- Utilities: First, you need to make sure the utilities are hooked up to your property and are running as intended. If the electricity, water, or gas is not currently running to the house, consider temporarily turning the utilities on; without them, you won’t be able to inspect any of the home’s faucets or appliances. At this time, the gas company may be available to check for any leaks or damage to the lines that could cause a safety hazard.
- Water damage and mold. Water damage and mold are two of the costliest types of damage a home can sustain. Mold abatement can cost several thousand dollars, depending on the severity of the accumulation. Look for any water spots or damp areas, especially in the basement or other prone areas. If you see any black or green spots on the walls, it could be a sign of mold—but the worst kind of mold hides from plain sight, necessitating you to check hidden nooks and crannies for any moisture or mold development.
- The foundation. Your inspector will also need to look at the foundation of the home. If the foundation is offset, or if it appears in need of repair, it could end up sabotaging the value of the home.
- The roof. Your inspector should also take a detailed look at the roof. If there’s a small leak, it can probably be repaired for just a few hundred dollars, while a full roof replacement could cost upwards of $10,000. In either case, the longer you postpone making the repair, the worse the damage is going to get, so make sure you’re able to identify this as proactively as possible.
- The exterior. Your home inspector will also check the exterior of the home for a number of different reasons. They’ll examine the condition of the siding to see if it needs to be replaced, they’ll see if any features like chimneys or gutters are in a state of disrepair, and may also check windows and doors for any sign of damage.
- The framing. Framing within the home, especially around windows and doors, can be problematic. If it isn’t aligned properly, or if it isn’t sealed properly, it could lead to further damage down the road, and interfere with your home’s insulating capacity.
- Kitchen fixtures. Most homes come with kitchen fixtures, including a refrigerator, stove, and sink. Your home inspector will examine these to make sure they’re connected correctly to the appropriate utility, and to ensure they’re running as they should. Appliances can be replaced somewhat easily, but if there’s a flaw in how they’re connected to the rest of the house, you may need to take care of the problem before proceeding with your purchase.
- Bathroom fixtures. You’ll also want to check the bathroom fixtures to see if anything interferes with their functionality. The shower, tub, toilet, and faucet should all be connected and working properly, without any signs of a leak.
- In general, you’ll want to check the pipes running throughout the house. If the plumbing is old and/or in a state of decay, it may need to be replaced before you move in. If there are any leaks, be sure to address them.
- Old electrical wiring can lead to an increased risk of fire. Make sure your inspector inspects the wiring to ensure it’s in full compliance with city code.
In addition to the items above, you’ll need to follow these important tips if you want to get the most out of your inspection:
- Find the right inspector. First, understand that not all property inspectors will treat your home with the same degree of scrutiny and care. You’ll want to find a property inspector you trust, who has the expertise and skills necessary to thoroughly evaluate your property (as well as someone who charges a reasonable rate). If you aren’t certain who to hire, consider asking around your neighborhood to get personal recommendations, or contact your real estate agent for options.
- Attend the inspection. Don’t just take the property inspector’s word for it; attend the inspection in person. You’ll be able to see exactly what’s wrong with the property, and your inspector will be able to walk you through exactly what needs to be done with it. Otherwise, you may not be able to find or replicate the results of the inspection on your own, and you’ll have difficulty making the repairs necessary (or verifying that they were done).
- Ask questions. Finally, ask lots of questions—and don’t feel dumb! Your inspector’s job is to educate you, so ask as many questions as necessary to feel like you truly understand what’s going on. Ask about property elements you don’t fully understand and get your inspector to elaborate as much as possible. The more you learn, the better.
A home inspection is a good first step to ensure your property remains in functional order, but what happens when something inevitably goes wrong? Consider hiring Green Residential, property management specialists, so you can rest assured that your property is properly maintained; you won’t have to mess with any repairs if and when they come up.