Hi, Dave here! After performing over 15,000 home inspections over a 30 year timespan, I have made a list of instrumental questions all buyers should be asking before hiring a home inspector, followed by some questions after the home inspection is complete. I’ve put together the questions for each section (before, during, and after the inspection) in order of importance:
Questions to Ask Before the Home Inspection
- What Standard of Practice does the inspector follow?
Your home inspector should adhere to a state or national standard such as ASHI or InterNACHI. Read the standards and see exactly what will, and more importantly, what won’t be done during the inspection. You want to avoid being surprised when you think, as a common example, that your appliances will be inspected and this ends up not being the case.
- What are the limitations of the inspector?
The standards leave room for what could be unsafe or inaccessible to the inspector. You want to know ensure that you have all doors or hatches unlocked so the inspector has access to all areas of the house. Each state has guidelines the inspector needs to follow on what they can and cannot access. For example, your home inspector cannot use a hammer to take nails out of hatches to gain access to nailed hatches.
- How does the inspection company stand behind its inspection?
It’s important to know whether they have a service guarantee or a complaint process you can complete if you are unsatisfied with the inspection. In addition to service dissatisfaction, if your home inspector doesn’t cover the aspects of your home that you wanted inspected, you’ll want to know the recourse you have according to the standards of practice.
- How is the information in the post-inspection report delivered?
A majority of the high quality inspection reports in the industry break down the report into various categories. This makes it simple to understand what your inspector thought was the most important issue to address from a safety or expense standpoint. Typically, you’ll also receive a summary of the critical items. Finally, a truly useful report will include photos or videos that will help you negotiate the price with a seller and locate the affected areas.
- What support does the inspection company provide after the inspection?
Can they offer you a list of contractors or discounts that will help go towards work that needs to be done? Do they provide follow up support such as one year maintenance inspections or energy audits once you move into the home? In this day and age with many other aspects of life to focus on, it’s key to have additional support and to know that your inspector can continue to support you well after they hand you your report.
- Is it ok to bring other people along on the inspection?
This is a question for the realtor, homeowner, and inspector. You can simply ask if you can bring contractors in for quotes or potentially friends/family that are assisting you in preparing for the move.
Questions to Ask During the Home Inspection
- What parts of the home inspection should I observe?
Usually the exterior, bathrooms, kitchen and basement are the most important parts of the house you should stick around for during the inspection . The inspector may have a system or process for you to catch up with them at certain times or go along with them throughout the inspection. Our inspectors have been asked many times whether it’s okay to follow them up their ladders during parts of the inspection. Because of homeowners insurance policies this is usually not an acceptable practice. In this case, you can ask specifically if your inspector could share videos and photos of what they see in hard-to-reach places.
- What can I look at that is not covered by the inspector?
You can this either with other contractors or by yourself depending on your level of expertise. For example, the inspector may not cover a shed, pool or generator, but reviewing them may still be a priority for you. In this case, be prepared to have other professionals there to assist if needed.
Questions to Ask at the End of the Home Inspection
Based on your findings, are there any additional tests or inspections that need to be done? For example, does a mold test need to be performed to confirm there isn’t mold growth going on in the home that needs to be remediated. It’s also important to consider whether an engineer needs to evaluate the foundation of the home, or a specific part of the foundation.
- Lastly, what are the primary concerns the inspector has with the home?
This would give you information about issues that may be deal breakers when buying a home, so it’s crucial to make sure you understand what could cost you the most money and stress in the long run.
To be successful during the home inspection process, it is important that you trust and communicate well with your inspector so you can receive the full benefit of their services. Make sure you know all the limitations and understand that inspectors are human and can’t see behind walls or in areas that are strictly out of reach. They do have a level of expertise to see signs of issues that may be present and can indicate concerns behind surfaces, but only if the signs are present. Knowing this and following this process will help assure you a good experience and to get one step closer to moving into your dream home!