If you are selling your house or just thinking about it, you might be wondering about the home inspection process and what to expect. What will your home inspection report say? Will it be a deal breaker for most buyers? Are there any major repairs that you didn’t even know needed to be done? With all the stress of selling your house, adding the inspection process on can feel like too much. But, most people don’t know that home inspection reports are not as scary as they seem.
First off, what can you expect from your home inspection? Your buyer will choose the inspector, and he or she will contact you to make an appointment. Make sure you are home for the inspection so that you can answer any questions that come up. But, don’t follow the inspector around. Allow him or her to have space to finish the work at hand.
Often, the inspector will go over the structural elements of your home, along with the electrical and plumbing. Items that present a threat of injury will also be noted. This could mean loose carpet (trip hazard) or a pool gate that doesn’t latch. The inspector won’t include anything that has to do with your furniture or appliances that will go with you in the move.
The inspector will flush toilets and run faucets to check for apparent plumbing issues. It might be a good idea to check all your drains before the appointment. He will be obligated to include slow drains in the report, so buy some drain cleaner to prevent sending up some plumbing red flags.
The inspector will also get up in the attic and check roof trusses and roofing, electrical wires, insulation, and generally look for possible structural issues that present in the attic space. If your home is built on floor trusses or has a crawl space underneath, he will also crawl under the house and check for foundation issues and plumbing leaks. If your home is built on a concrete slab, he will check for large cracks, water sources near the foundation, or trees with roots growing into the concrete.
He will note heaving concrete on any walkways or driveways, chips and cracks in the stucco or plaster, missing siding, broken windows, rotting wood on the exterior, whether due to wet or dry rot. He will also check for termite damage, wasp’s nests, poor drainage, problems with the landscape watering system, etc.
Your inspector will even take note of light fixtures that don’t work, even if it’s simply due to burned out lightbulbs. So, before the appointment, check all the lightbulbs in your home and change out the duds. The fewer line items on that report, the better.
Your typical home inspection report will contain a few features. Don’t worry if it comes back with a lot more pages than you expected. Many of those pages won’t be about problems with your home. There are pages of legal disclaimers and explanations for the inspector’s findings, so if you condensed the report down to just the line items, it wouldn’t be nearly as long. It might even fit on one page.
Usually, your inspection report will have a photo of your home on the front cover, along with the address. It will also have pertinent information about the inspector himself, such as his phone number and his seal or licensure.
The following pages will have the inspection items, often divided into sections, with photos and a brief explanation of the problem. For instance, the first section, possibly the “roofing” section, will contain all items that were located in relation to the roof. If there is a rusty attic vent, it will be photographed and added to this section. Then, there might be a section labeled “irrigation systems” where a leak in a drip line or a broken timer would be noted.
At the end of the list of inspection items, there might be several more pages that don’t make sense to you. Some home inspection reports will have 20 more pages, all which are not really relevant to you as a seller. These pages are generally legally required to show that all aspects of the home were inspected, to demonstrate the inspector’s thoroughness and accuracy.
It might help to get out a pen and paper and write the actual inspection items down, to the best of your understanding, so you have visualize the real implications of the report. Put a checkmark next to the items that you are particularly concerned about. Call your general contractor and get informed on what these items really mean for you.
If your home is less than five years old, most of the items on your home inspection report will probably be minor. But, after 10 years you might find that the report reveals many problems that you hadn’t even noticed. Don’t panic. If you’ve been living with these items for this long and it hasn’t affected your quality of life, it’s possible that your buyers will feel the same way.
A common misconception is that you will be obligated to repair everything on the list, but everything is negotiable. You can refuse to repair any item, you can can also adjust your purchase price to accommodate all or a portion of the costs to repair any item.
Things that might be deal breakers for your buyers are:
Whatever your home inspection report says, don’t panic. Usually, there are ways around most of the items, whether it’s negotiating with your buyer or finding a way to repair the item economically. It’s important that you approach the report and the sale from an informed perspective, or it could cost you.