By: Ron Bracha of Accent Home Inspection, LLC
After a long search process, you finally found a home that fits your needs, preferences, and budget. You decided to place an offer and it was accepted. Congratulations! This can be both exciting and nerve-racking, and that’s where a home inspector can help.
A home inspection is an important step in the process of buying a property. It’s a visual examination of the physical condition of all the accessible systems and components of the home. A home inspector must be objective and impartial. We are not there to sell you anything, but rather to help you understand what kind of home you’re buying.
In order to find a good home inspector, consult your realtor, family, and friends for referrals. Browse Google Maps and contact inspectors who have good reviews. Browse their websites, check credentials and qualifications. Consider inspectors with experience in building design and construction (architect, engineer, contractor etc.) as they can often offer broader knowledge and deeper insight than those who do not have such backgrounds. You should also investigate inspectors’ years of experience and certifications. For instance, many local inspectors are certified by ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors), which offers significant training, certification, and continuing education.
When comparing quotes, remember to also compare the quality of services offered. Find out whether the inspector does multiple jobs per day, as this may limit their capacity for deeper explanations and discussions. Most importantly, inquire into the end product. Will the inspection provide a detailed report or just a checklist?
Licensed home inspectors must follow the MA Standards of Practice (266 CMR), which describes in detail everything that must be inspected and reported on, as well as exclusions. A signed inspection agreement is required by law. Read it and make sure you understand what to expect and how to proceed.
The inspection takes about 1.5 hours for a condo and around 2.5 hours for a home. You are highly encouraged to attend because this is your opportunity to get to know the property in detail. You will be oriented on how to operate the systems, discuss maintenance, and plan repairs if needed.
Home inspections start with the exterior grounds and building envelope. Next, inspectors examine the garage and continue to the basement where we check the structure and the systems. Inspectors examine the condition of these systems and are expected to educate our clients on proper operation and maintenance. If the house is old, it may be worthwhile to include a pest/termite inspection. If there is a basement, you may want to request a radon test as well.
From here, inspectors proceed to examine the kitchen, bathrooms and interiors. Lastly, we go up to the attic and check the roof structure, insulation and ventilation. Older homes may not meet current standards, but your inspector will let you know if there are safety issues that should be addressed.
While in the home, you can take pictures and measurements as long as you do not get distracted by that (or by chatting with the real estate agents) and miss important info from the inspector. Feel free to ask questions, and keep in mind you can also contact your inspector after you read the report, which is usually sent within 24 hours or even on the same day.
A good home inspector will provide a detailed and well-organized inspection report, with pictures, explanations and recommendations. Take your time to read the report, you can also share it with experienced people you trust and consider all the issues that were found and discussed. Note that the inspector may recommend consulting other specialists for further examination or to assess the scope of work to repair or replace systems or components. It would be prudent to do that before buying the property.
A home inspection examines the condition of the property at the time of inspection. It cannot provide any warranty or guarantee for future performance. A home is made of countless components and sometimes things can go wrong. Components may break, systems can malfunction, leaks may occur and so on. Proactive maintenance can help, and your home inspector can help you understand and prepare. Also make sure you have a good homeowner’s insurance and that you understand the coverage and deductibles.
Accept the responsibility, embrace the challenges and enjoy the advantages and benefits of owning a home. May it be filled with love, happiness, and good luck!