Home Inspection FAQ
- Why should I have a home inspection?
When performed by a trained, qualified, and experienced inspector, a home inspection allows for a non-biased, third-party evaluation of the property and provides an in-depth factual evaluation of the structure. We check all the house systems such as plumbing, electrical HVAC and much, much more and put into a detailed report. Reports are typically sent within 24 hours of the inspection to you and your agent. As a buyer you want to know that you are not getting something less than the value you are paying for and that you don’t end up with a lot of expenses you were not counting on.
- What is checked in a home inspection?
The list is not limited to these but includes the following:
Examining the foundation of the house is of utmost importance. Some settlement cracks are normal up to a certain point. Larger cracks, bowing of the foundation walls, and larger steps cracks indicate structural problems. We are also looking at the walls and trusses or rafters to check that they are in alignment.
Around the exterior, we will check to make sure that the siding is properly flashed and attached to the house, make sure that all railings are secure, evaluate the deck construction and how it is connected to the house. We also evaluate the driveway and walk-ways to the house. Ground water management is a very important concern. The gutters and downspouts should be clear of debris and discharge water a good 5 to 8 feet away from the foundation. The ground should slope away from the foundation.
When it is safe to get on the roof, we will evaluate the condition of the shingles looking for broken or missing shingles, evaluate the approximate age of the shingles, check for penetrations, and make sure that the plumbing vent stack boots have not deteriorated allowing water into the attic space. When a chimney is present, we are checking the condition of the crown, that there are no missing or loose bricks and that the flashing is properly done and well-sealed. There are times when a drone is needed. We do inspect those inaccessible areas with a drone when conditions are right.
The inspector will remove the main distribution panel to make sure that the correct gauge wiring matches up with the correct sized breaker, look for loose connections, evidence of arcing and/or burnt wiring. We will check to make sure that the GFCI and AFCI breakers and outlets trip properly as well as check outlets, switches, ceiling fans and lighting throughout the house.
We will check to make sure that the heat source is operating correctly and within the proper temperature ranges as well as that each habitable room is properly vented.
We will run the air conditioning system to make sure it is cooling properly within the appropriate variances specific to the unit.
Getting into the attic helps us to not only evaluate the insulation values of the home but also look at the underside of the roof sheathing. We will look for leaks, penetrations where vermin can enter, and make sure that any ductwork is in good condition.
Plumbing is a major system that needs to be thoroughly evaluated. It is important that you understand that older or inoperative water heaters can be costly to replace. Your inspector will run water throughout the property checking for leaks and making sure that hot is on the left, cold on the right. Reversed connections can be a scalding concern since we are accustomed to cold being on the right. Where plumbing is visible, we check for leaks.
Windows are opened and closed and checked for failed seals. Doors opened and closed. Walls and ceilings checked for plumbing leaks and structural problems.
We will check all the appliances. Run the oven / stove, check the ice maker and water dispenser on the refrigerator, run the microwave and dishwasher as well as the washer/dryer.
If there is a fireplace in the home, we will evaluate the damper and look up chimney if possible. When we are on the roof, your inspector will also look down the chimney for visible cracks, mis-aligned tiles and check the crown and missing bricks.
All these inspected areas are documented with descriptions, limitations to inspecting with recommendations for repair or replacement put into a PDF report which is sent to you and your agent typically within 24hrs.
- How much does a home inspection cost?
The home inspection charges are based on several variables such as square footage, age of the house, extra outbuildings such as barns, sheds, garages, and in-law quarters. Some houses may have extra circumstances that can raise the price. For example, is it a new house or a 100 year old farm house that has not been updated in many years. Does the house have crawl spaces, multiple basements or in-law quarters with full kitchens. Call us for an exact price for your home inspection.
- How long does a home inspection take?
Every property has its own peculiarities but in general, a small condo may take about 1 hour to inspect. A medium sized townhouse may take approximately 2 – 2 ½ hours. A 2,500 sq ft 2 story colonial can take 2 ½ – 3 hours, and a 4,000 sq ft plus sized home may take 3 hours or more. Special outbuildings, garages in-law quarters, and barns can add time to the inspection.
- Do I need to be there for the inspection?
While you are not required to be in attendance, it is a great opportunity to have a trained expert point out where your water main is located, educate you about your electrical panel, heating and cooling systems and teach you about other important homeowner maintenance ideas. You also get to see any issues with your own two eyes and speak with the inspector about them.
- Does my realtor need to be at the inspection?
Your agent is not required to be in attendance, but they can be a great resource to have on site during the inspection. Sometimes real estate related questions come up that are outside of the scope of the home inspector’s knowledge base. They also get to see any issues right at the time of the inspection.
- Does the seller have to make repairs?
This is great question for your realtor to answer. The home inspection company’s responsibility is to report factual observations for you and your agent to make decisions in the home buying process to take back to the seller and seller’s agent if you decided to do so.
- If something is not working or broken, can the inspector tell me how much it may cost to repair?
While a home inspector cannot tell you what something may cost to repair, we can give you some general guidance. We always recommend that you get a qualified expert in the area of concern (i.e., plumber, electrician, roofer, HVAC) to evaluate and prepare an estimate of repairs. Think of your home inspector as a general practitioner who would refer you out to a surgeon, orthopedist, gastroenterologist, or cardiologist if they observed an area that required a more in-depth evaluation for treatment.
- Is a home inspection the same thing as a home appraisal?
A home appraisal evaluates the value of the property in comparison to other similar type homes in the area and is used by lenders to make sure that the property you are looking at is appropriately valued/priced for purpose of a mortgage loan. A home inspection evaluates the condition of the home and it’s working systems on the day of the inspection. This is so that you are not getting something less than the value you are paying for and that you don’t end up with a lot of expenses that you were not counting on.
- What good is a home warranty if I got an inspection?
A home inspection is a one-day observation of the working systems and structure of the home and its appliances (HVAC, water heater, range, washer/dryer, etc.). While a home inspector can evaluate the age and condition of an appliance, it can not be determined exactly how long it will last. Often, we will observe components of a house that are operating properly but are past their typical service life and would note that in the report. For instance, typically, an electric water heater may operate for 11-15 years. We have on occasion found a 30-year-old water heater still working properly but would note on the inspection report that a new water heater may be needed soon. A home warrantee to some degree, covers replacement costs of components when they fail.
- Does your inspection come with a warranty?
Highland Home Inspections inspectors are fully trained and certified by the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). We have over 90 years combined experience amongst our inspectors. In fact, our least tenured inspector has over 1,000 inspections under his belt. We have no need to offer a warrantee for our work because we stand behind our qualified service offering.
- My contract did not allow for a home inspection, can you still inspect my home after we settle?
Yes. In a seller’s market, some contracts have excluded home inspections. We are glad to come out and evaluate your home after you have moved in. We have performed many of these types of inspections in the past. We can perform a full home inspection with a final report or a Review and Consultation.
- My insurance company asked me questions about my inspection report I don’t know how to answer. What do I do?
Sometimes your homeowner’s insurance provider will ask questions about the electrical system. “Does it have knob and tube wiring?” “Will the windows in the home withstand 65 mile an hour hurricane force winds?” We are always available to answer these questions for you. Bring your questions to the inspection or just give us a call. We get these questions all the time.
- What is a Review and Consultation, and do you offer that service?
Sometimes a complete and full home inspection with a report is not an option for you. We do offer a “Review and Consultation”. This service allows us to walk the property pointing out the concerns we have so that you are educated about your potential purchase.
- What are the limitations of a home inspection? What don’t you do?
A home inspection is a one-day, non-invasive comprehensive evaluation of the property. We do walk on the roof whenever it can be accessed safely. We do not damage or deconstruct any part of the property. Remember, typically home inspections are performed on a house that you do not own.
- Gadzooks, the home inspector missed something!!! Now what?
When you schedule a home inspection, you are asked to review and sign a Pre-Inspection Agreement. The Pre-Inspection Agreement states if in the rare event something that “should” have been noted in the inspection was not, you can be reimbursed for the price of the inspection.
- What happens if the inspector breaks something on the inspection?
Occasionally, Home inspectors get blamed for breaking things but more often than not home inspectors “reveal” something that was already damaged or inoperative. It is a rare occurrence that a home inspector breaks or damages anything on the property. But if it does happen, Highland Home Inspections will cover the costs of any damage repairs.
- What other inspection services do you offer?
Highland Home Inspections offers the following services: new construction foundation inspections, pre-drywall inspections, a pre-settlement walk through inspection (this most referred to as your home inspection), radon testing, mold testing, pre-listing inspections, maintenance inspections, review and consultations, as well as individual hourly inspections of some area of concern on either your existing home or a new home.