Does it matter if I come along for the home inspection? Can’t I get all the info I need from the inspector’s report?
A home inspection report is a valuable document that can help you understand what you’re buying. But there’s still a lot to be gained by attending the inspection in person. I still remember doing the walk- through with my inspector many years ago, and I kept the report he provided. I still reference it from time to time.
First of all, it’s important to remember that a home inspection is first and foremost a visual examination of a home’s systems. The inspection can identify issues with a home’s foundation, electrical, plumbing, roofing, heating and air conditioning systems. But a home inspector can’t knock down walls to see what’s behind them, or do any other sort of invasive investigation. Typically, they won’t move furniture or storage boxes in order to see or access part of the home.
When you come along for the inspection, the inspector can point out details as you move around the home and examine different aspects of the property. You can also ask follow-up questions about the issues they spot, to find out how serious they think it is, or what kind of repairs they think might be needed. It’s good to know which repairs should be done immediately, and which ones can wait a few years.
You can expect similar information in the formal report, but when you’re present on-site you can get more context, which means you can better understand what it means for the property as a whole.
Typically, an inspection takes two to three hours, and when you’re considering a home you’ll be living in for years, it’s a valuable way to spend your time. In fact, when I bought my current home, the inspector provided tips and suggestions about the home that didn’t make it into the report, because they were not critical issues. That was really useful info that helped us in our final decision.
Just as there’s info you’ll get from the in-person inspection that you might not get in the report, there are a lot of important details in the report that might not come up verbally as you’re doing your walkabout. Reading the report in full will further increase your understanding of the property, and it can serve as a useful reference for years afterwards.
If your offer to purchase the property was conditional on a satisfactory home inspection, after the inspection you will need to decide how to proceed. The guidance of your broker or salesperson can be a major asset. They can negotiate with the sellers to resolve any issues that the inspection uncovered. For minor issues, the seller may promise to make repairs before you move in. For more serious issues, they might agree to reduce the selling price to make up for the cost of repairs. After you move in, you would be responsible for making repairs yourself.
With that in mind, it’s important to remember what a home inspection doesn’t cover. A home inspection doesn’t look for aesthetic or cosmetic deficiencies in the property. That means it’s up to you and your real estate representative to note chipped countertops, peeling paint and similar issues.
Phone, cable TV, alarm and lawn sprinkler systems aren’t typically included in an inspection, either. However, they can often look at a swimming pool, fireplace, shed or other outbuildings as an add-on service.
There’s no denying that a home inspection can be a valuable part of the buying process. By attending the inspection and reading the report thoroughly, you can ensure that you’re making the most of it.
If you have a question for Joe about the home buying or selling process, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joseph Richer is Registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). He is in charge of the administration and enforcement of all rules that govern real estate professionals in Ontario. You can find more tips at reco.on.ca, follow on Twitter @RECOhelps or on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/RECOhelps.