The property inspection is one of the most important steps during a typical real estate transaction. Whether you’re a first-time buyer or the seller of the property, the home inspection might make you feel a little nervous. Here’s a guide of what to expect:
– For the seller and the listing agent, the inspection is one of the last steps in the process, and a big unknown. Issues could come up during the inspection that can affect the property’s value or kill the sale. Even though they usually aren’t present during the home inspection and the inspector can’t share the report directly with them, according to the contract the buyer has to share details of any inspection with the current owner. In the end the inspection should be a way to facilitate a clean sales transaction between all parties.
– For the buyer, the inspection should be an opportunity to clarify any concerns you have about the property, after you have already reviewed the seller’s property disclosures or other documents provided. You should hire a licensed inspector with the help of your real estate agent. Most buyers like to be present during the inspection, but if they aren’t able to attend their agent will review the inspection report with them.
– The buyer’s agent will make the appointment with the inspector and will coordinate with all the parties an appropriate date. Your real estate agent can suggest which inspections are typical in your market and can tell you what to look for. Most inspections go smoothly, but some can be the beginning of tough negotiations, where your agent has lots of experience.
– For the inspector, the objective is to inspect the property, its systems and the overall state of the home, being impartial but pointing out concerns that need to be addressed without being an alarmist. The inspector should look around, make notes and provide you with a detailed report.
Some things that the inspector will be looking at are:
– Structural components: foundation, floors, walls, columns, ceilings and roofs, unless dangerous or adverse situations are suspected.
– Exterior: wall cladding, flashings and trim; entryway doors and windows; garage door operators, decks, balconies, steps, porches and railings; eaves, soffits and fascia; vegetation, grading, drainage, driveways, patios, walkways and retaining walls. The inspector is not required to observe storm windows or doors, screening, shutters, fences, outbuildings, recreational facilities, garage door remote transmitters.
– Roofing: roof coverings, drainage systems, skylights, chimneys, signs of leaks or abnormal condensation.
– Plumbing: interior water supply and distribution system; interior drain, waste and vent system; hot water system; fuel storage and distribution systems; sump pumps.
– Electrical: service entrance conductors; service equipment, grounding equipment, main overcurrent device, main and distribution panels; amperage and voltage ratings; branch circuit conductors; the operation of some lighting fixtures, switches and receptacles; the polarity and grounding of all receptacles within six feet of interior plumbing fixtures and all receptacles in the garage or carport, and on the exterior of inspected structures; the operation of ground fault circuit interrupters. The inspector is not required to observe smoke detectors, telephone, security, cable TV, intercoms or other ancillary wiring that is not a part of the primary electrical distribution system.
– Heating: permanently installed heating systems.
– Central Air Conditioning: cooling and air handling equipment, fans pumps, ducts and piping, with supports, dampers, insulation, air filters, registers, fan-coil units. The inspector is not required to observe non-central air conditioners.
– Interiors: walls, ceilings, floors, steps, stairways, balconies, railings, counters and some cabinets, some doors and windows, sumps; separation walls, ceilings and doors between a dwelling unit and an attached garage or another dwelling unit. The inspector is not required to observe paint, wallpaper, carpeting, draperies, blinds, household appliances.
– Insulation and Ventilation: insulation and vapor retarders in unfinished spaces, ventilation of attics and foundation areas, venting systems in kitchen, bathroom and laundry.
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