You think you’ve found the home of your dreams. Excellent! The next step now is to make sure it’s not the home of your nightmares. A home inspector lets you know if there’s anything ugly hidden behind those beautiful walls. You’ll get the lowdown on the house’s condition so you can make an informed decision. This means you should come locked and loaded with question to ask your home inspector.
Don’t wait for the inspector’s report to show up, though. Go along on the walk-through. Sure, you’ll eventually get a copy of the results, but that’s not as enlightening as being on the scene and getting to pick the expert’s brain. So, from roof to basement, from inside to outside, here are 17 questions to ask your home inspector during the inspection:
The inspector can estimate the remaining lifespan of the roof. You might even get advice about how to squeeze out an extra year or two. Minor repairs now could put off an expensive roof replacement until you’ve had time to save for it.
If you live in an area that gets cold weather, your attic insulation might never be enough. Find out if it’s at least adequate. Insufficient insulation nudges your energy bill way up. To the point that you will not feel #blessed.
If there’s an appliance you’re not familiar with, ask your home inspector how to handle it. Don’t be embarrassed. You won’t be the first homebuyer to wonder. Everyone knows you’re not the expert here.
Smoke detectors are super easy to install, and your inspector can make site suggestions, if necessary. Stop worrying!
Do they need replacement? Caulking? Again, think energy conservation here. Warmed or cooled air that escapes through your windows takes your money with it.
You’re not asking if the inspector likes the color. You want a heads up about cracking, distortion, buckling or improperly installed siding — though you may get a color comment tossed in for free.
You’ll learn where to plant flowers and if you have a water issue. Problems with gutter flow, downspout location or foundation integrity might be fixable, or they may be signs of impending doom.
A wet basement can be a nuisance, but it can also be a sign of looming structural concerns. Your inspector can tell you if — and how much — you should panic.
Electricity is magic. Ok, it’s actually a scientific phenomenon, but many homebuyers find it mysterious. Your inspector can tell you if there’s room to expand within the electric panel for that hot tub you want and whether or not the wiring is going to necessitate a visit from the fire department anytime soon.
Do you know your heat exchanger from your supply register? If not, your inspector can fill you in. At the very least, you should know whether you have a boiler or furnace. When — no, if — there’s a problem, you’ll be better prepared to handle it. Get the inspector’s opinion on how old and efficient the system is so you won’t be surprised when winter rolls around.
Water heaters need replacing after about 15 years. How much life is left in yours? Ask you home inspector to make an educated guess.
You may never need to apply this, but you need to know exactly where the shutoffs are so you can get to them fast.
This is the essential question. If the foundation is flawed, the house may come tumbling down at some point. Even if the problem is fixable, it’s going to be expensive. Vertical steel supports, horizontal anchors, displaced walls — do you really want to get involved in all that?
Sorry, you didn’t leave testing behind when you finished school, but you don’t have to study for these assessments. Depending on what the inspector finds, you might want a radon gas, drinking water or other important tests done. It may help to ask your home inspector how they would prioritize the importance of them.
If the inspector finds a problem — any problem — it may seem overwhelming. But should it be? If you’re new to the homeowner game, you may not be certain if a plumbing issue is an easy fix or a deal breaker.
Certain problems require immediate attention. Faulty wiring that can lead to electrocution goes near the top of that list. No, wait, put it at the top. But sometimes it’s OK to postpone repairs for a while — even years — or actually, wait until something breaks.
If you trust your inspector, ask for referrals. You might get the name of a reliable roofer, plumber or another expert. You could also find out it’s actually a do-it-yourself job.
This might be the most important question of all: anything you don’t understand. You’re a homebuyer, not an inspector. That’s why you hired a professional. If you see something strange, ask what’s up. If the inspector gives an explanation that sounds like gobbledygook to you, ask for clarification. Additionally, if you see something alarming but the inspector is unfazed, ask why. Get the point? All together now: If you’re uncertain, ask.
A problematic inspection is one of the most common reasons a home sale falls through. Sure, you love the house now, but what about in one year? Five? Ten? A home inspection helps prevent potential heartbreak.