The Home Inspection: What to Expect
To many homeowners the idea of a home inspection is always met with a slight raise in heart rate. Having every nook and cranny of your home put under a microscope is a bit intimidating. And why shouldn't it be? Just mention the word and a mental checklist of all the things you've been putting off - or just completely ignoring - runs through your head like an old flickering neon sign. There is no fault in the endless duties of homeownership and the inevitable work left trickling along.
But now you're getting ready to sell your house, and some of that work needs to be addressed. A home inspection is really the best way to find out what needs to be done. In reality, the inspection process is not as intimidating as it sounds and will actually help and protect you. Here is what you need to know...
HOW IT WORKS
Since 1976, home inspections have been standardized by the nation’s leading home inspector association, the American Society of Home Inspectors . Also known as ASHI, the Society’s “Standards of Practice” dictate what must be inspected and how far home inspectors need to go to report those findings.
According to ASHI, a basic home inspection includes an evaluation of 10 different areas of the home: Heating; cooling; plumbing; electrical; roofing; attic and visible insulation; walls and ceilings; floors; foundation/structural components; exterior property.
The Standards of Practice detail what inspectors must look at, as well as what may be excluded, from the inspection.
For example, when inspecting the heating system, inspectors must evaluate the installed equipment, vent systems, flues and chimneys. However, an inspector is not required to inspect things like humidifiers and dehumudifiers or to look inside venting, flues or chimneys that may not be readily accessible.
When the home inspection is complete, the inspector will issue a report detailing what was found, complete with photos and reccomendations. Inspectors will report on 'Major' problems needing immediate attention, as well as 'Minor' conditions that can lead to more serious defects down the road. Some might even give a general estimate of cost for the work if you ask.
The best way to make certain your home attracts buyers and the highest possible sales price is to make sure it’s looking and functioning its best, both inside and out.
A fresh coat of paint and some new landscaping may seem like obvious first steps in prepping your home for sale, but when it comes to the home inspection, here are some suggestions to consider:
- repair loose steps, gutters, rotting trim or windowsills
- replace missing roof shingles, cracked or broken siding
- assess trees in need of trimming or even removal
- decks and patios - look for minor structure issues (nails, bolts), rotting planks, stones, etc
- mechanical systems - give them an honest assessment. If they haven't been serviced in a while, do it now.
- electrical and plumbing - if you're aware of any minor repairs that are needed, get them done with plenty of time before the inspection.
- repair small things like door handles, sliding closet doors off track, nail holes, etc.
- schedule a pest control maintenance visit
- have a professional deep clean
Things like cracked flooring, leaky faucets, and spotty electrical sockets are usually minor repairs, but can go a long way.
HomeAdvisor, Porch, and Yelp are some good places to start when looking for reliable professionals to help with your home repairs. They both have review and ranking systems to give you a good sense of what their work is like. Though it takes more time, getting several quotes is a good habit to get into to ensure you hire the right person for your job.
With a little extra effort, many of these repairs can be done by you, saving the cost of hiring professionals for their time and material. This Old House is a great resource for everything from Grout to Sprinklers to Re-lining a Chimney Flue. Also, Home Depot and Lowe's have videos posted alongside products online demonstrating installation, as well as the added benefit of going in yourself to ask one of their experts.
Being well prepared will not only ease your mind when it comes time for inspection, but it will show the inspector, and potential buyers, that you took pride in your home and it was well cared for.
The key to all this is really finding a balance between what you are willing to fix and what you are okay with leaving for the buyer. As long as you understand that this could effect your asking and offer prices, it really is different for every situation.
A home inspection can take anywhere from 2-4 hours depending on the house and inspector. All of the 10 areas outlined above will be carefully examined and documented. It is not always necessary to be home, but probably a good idea so that you can talk to the inspector about what they are doing along the way. Most inspectors will sit down with you at the end to go over all of their findings, and then follow up a few days later with the more official documentation.
INSPECTION FOR PROTECTION
Knowing the ins and out of your home will be your biggest asset for a successful sale. It is the foundation (no pun intended) on which you will base many of your selling decisions - timing, price, etc.
Think of it this way: Your house is your product. You are the sales rep, and just received a crash course on every detail and specification of that product. You know its strengths and weaknesses and have a better understanding of its true value. You can take this information and either put off selling until you can make your product better, or continue moving forward but still be able talk to your customer confidently without any hidden surprises.
COST AND THE FAIRA ADVANTAGE
The cost of a home inspection will vary based on several factors. Geographic location, house size, additional test requests such as septic, well or radon all play a part in determining the fee. In general, homeowners can expect to pay somewhere in the range of $400 for an average 2000 sq ft home, to up to $700+ for a larger more complex home.
The inspection provides you the knowledge to price your home competitively and, by making it public on Faira, gives you more confidence in your offers knowing the buyer has the same information.
Fear not, homeowners. The inspection just may be the key to selling your home at the best possible price.