Saturday, July 23, 2016

Homebuying Update: The Inspection

Just catching up? We went house-hunting, and made an offer on a house. This post will cover the experience of the home inspection.

We did not know what the home inspection process would be like. It lasted about 3 hours in total. The good news? No major surprises! Our home was built in the late 1980s, so we were hoping for no major structural or other issues that would have possibly led us to walk away from the deal. We do highly recommend getting the home inspection, even if your lender does not require it. Our inspector showed us everything and generated a long (25+ page) report detailing all of the structural aspects of our future home. It is also helpful to consider things that are not major enough to ask the home owner to repair before closing, so you have an idea of some of the repairs that may need to happen in the next few years (e.g., the roof may not need immediate replacing, but it could be showing signs of deterioration which could increase the potential for leaks). 

What to anticipate for the inspection:
1. Plan at least 1 1/2 - 3 hours for the full home inspection. In our case, we had two inspections occurring simultaneously -- the regular home inspection and the termite inspection. It is a good idea to allot plenty of time as you do not want the inspector to feel rushed. Ours lasted 3 hours.

2. Cost. We paid $375 for the home inspector and another $85 for the termite inspection. Budget for this before you make your offer on your home. It is much better to spend a few hundred dollars before closing than end up with a home needing an immediate costly repair after you move in. Even if the seller offers a home warranty, it is best to opt for the inspection.

3. Logistics. The inspectors will be taking several notes and many pictures. Our inspector got up on the roof to look at the cap on the chimney, the condition of the roof, and the seal around the skylight. He went down into the crawlspace to evaluate the foundation, the wood, and look for any signs of structural damage. The inspector will also turn on all of the faucets, check for leaking pipes, test all electrical appliances, and even tests the smoke detectors. Every outlet and every ceiling fan will also be tested to ensure everything is in working condition. Our inspector was also kind enough to show us how to take care of some of the general annual maintenance tasks (e.g., how to change the filters in the furnace). 

Typical things found in a home inspection:
1. Electrical: All outlets located in bathrooms, kitchens, and other rooms with water should have GFCI (ground-fault circuit interrupter) outlets installed (see photo below). These are essential around water, as they reduce the risk of shock by cutting off the electricity if it senses a disruption in the current. Newly constructed homes likely have these already installed, but older homes may not. Our house had a few of these, but not in all of the locations where they were required. We asked for this in our request to the home owners. Other electrical things that will be checked include the circuit breakers, outlets (to ensure they have electricity), lights, and ceiling fans.

2. Water and Plumbing: By turning on all of the faucets, running an empty load on "hot" in the washer, and testing the shower faucets, the inspector can evaluate if the hot water tank is functioning properly. Dripping faucets or leaky pipes under the sinks will also be evaluated. The inspector also carefully looks for water damage or evidence of mold. In our case, the vapor barrier had deteriorated in the crawl space and there was some minimal signs of moisture on the beams. Luckily, the sellers agreed to replace the vapor barrier and have the beams thoroughly cleaned. The new vapor barrier should help prevent moisture from affecting the beams. This is a huge issue to make sure is taken care of -- moisture in the crawl space over time not only can weaken the wood, but also can attract pets (e.g., mice and termites). Mold is also a serious issue. We have friends who walked away from a home they loved after their inspector found the attic was filled with mold and the sellers were unwilling to cover the cost of mold removal. 

3. Major appliances and systems in the home: The furnace, AC, and hot water heater will all be inspected. There are several minor things (like an "earthquake strap" around the hot water tank to stabilize it) that we had no idea were even requirements, as we do not live in an area prone to earthquakes! The inspector will also turn on the oven, make sure the refrigerator is chilling, and run the washer and dryer. The repairs required in this area in our inspection were minimal. The main one was asking for the flexible aluminum dryer vent hose to be replaced by a semi-rigid hose (as the flexible hose is prone to collapse and could cause a fire). 

4. Windows & Doors: Inspecting the jams, panes of glass, and the general condition of the frames. Lucky for us, nearly all of the windows of the home (except 2) were replaced in the last 5 years. One of the two windows that was still original to the house had some wood rot at the bottom of the window. The sellers agreed to fix this, and rather than repair the section with wood rot they just replaced the whole window! 

5. Pests: Termites can obviously cause significant harm to the wood frame and structure of a home. The termite inspector looked in the crawl space, as well as examining all exterior and interior walls. Our new home is termite-free. We plan to look into having another inspection in one year to make sure there are no issues. 


Are you in the process of buying a home? Did you opt for an inspection? Tell us in the comments what the inspection process was like and if there were any issues found. Happy Homebuying!