The Home Inspection - What To Expect

Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Capital Properties DC AB15253

Congratulations! After weeks (or months of looking), you’ve finally found your dream home.   It looks like it’s in excellent condition, but merely looking like it’s in good condition is not enough when it comes to such a huge financial decision.

To make sure that you are buying your dream home rather than a  living nightmare, you need a professional home inspection before you commit.  An inspection should identify any potential issues so you really know what you’re buying.

Make Sure Your Offer Includes an Inspection Contingency

Many first time home buyers don't realize that it is their responsibility to find and hire a home inspector.  Make sure that your offer includes an inspection contingency.  In the DC metro area you can make your offer contingent on an inspection with the right to void the contract for any reason -based on the home inspection.  This means that you can do the inspection and void the contract because the house has a roof and walls or because it has a broken window.  In other words, you don't have to have a reason to void the contract based on the home inspection. You just communicate to the seller that you are voiding the contract.  

How to Find an Inspector

Many people as friends and family members for recommendations.  Friends who have recently bought a home can be a great source for recommendations.  Your broker or agent might also have an inspector to recommend. While other people’s opinions are helpful, what’s most important is that you hire someone who is qualified. 

Some states require home inspectors to have certifications. For those that don’t, membership in organizations like the American Society of Home Inspectors can give you some assurance about an inspector’s professionalism.  You can (and should) interview potential inspectors before hiring one. Ask about their experience and whether they’re familiar with the type of home you’re buying. Find out what will be included in the inspection and report and how it will be delivered to you - and when.  Will there be pictures? What kind of equipment does the inspector use? Does he have a thermal camera? Does he do termite inspections or radon and lead tests?  

Make sure the inspector understands your time line.  When does your home inspection contingency expire? Can the inspector do the inspection and give you the report in time for you to decide whether to move forward or not? 

What Should the Inspection Cover

During a home inspection, the inspector should thoroughly evaluate the physical structure of the home as well as critical internal systems. You should make sure the examination includes the following:

  • Electrical System
  • Plumbing System
  • Heating and Cooling System
  • Radon remediation system if present
  • Walls, ceiling and flooring
  • Windows and doors
  • Roofing
  • Foundation
  • Basement
  • Attic 
  • Insulation
  • Chimney
  • Appliances
  • Garage, including doors

What Additional Inspections Should You Get

While an inspection will give you a good idea of your new home's overall condition, it might not reveal problems such as termites, radon, mold or asbestos. It also won’t identify issues in areas that are below ground or otherwise inaccessible to the inspector, like wells and septic tanks. To fully examine those types of problems, you’re going to need additional inspections.  For example, a Wood Destroying Insect Inspection will reveal termites, carpenter ants and other pests.  Your inspector may recommend that you or the seller call in a specific contractor to examine and correct an issue which the inspector has identified.  I frequently see inspectors recommend that the buyer get the HVAC system examinded further by an HVAC contractor or that the chimney be studied by a sweep. 

What Should You Do During the Inspection

You should definitely be there during the inspection. You should follow the inspector around the house and ask questions so you can learn more about how your new home functions. If you can’t make it for the inspection, you should meet with the inspector to go over the report in detail.  

If you have questions about potential issues or how to take care of parts of the home, feel free to ask the evaluator. This is the time to find out where the water turn off valve is or to learn which way to insert the air filter into the furnace.  Make lots of notes becaue the inspector will probably give you hints about how to care for your home.  Take care, however, not to get in the inspector’s way and distract him or her from the  job at hand which is to do a top notch analysis of your new home.  

The Report

Once the inspector completes an evaluation, you will receive a report with the inspector’s findings. Don’t be alarmed if you see a number of issues noted. Home inspections are detailed, so reports often include as many as 50 issues, most of which are relatively small.  In addition, many inspectors identify issues which are maintenance suggestions for you as a new home owner, such as making sure that the gutters are kept clean or the air filters changed regularly. 

The report should include information about how severe each listed problem is.  In addition, the inspector may be able to give you estimates on how much it would cost to fix each problem. Ask the inspector for clarifications on this if necessary. If the inspection lists more problems than you’re comfortable dealing with, your contract may allow you to void the contract or ask the seller make the repairs or lower the price. If you’re satisfied with the condition of the home or the shape it will be in after the seller meets the arrangements of your negotiations, you can decide to move forward with the contract and go to settlement.  That is when congratulations are truly in order! 

If you live in the DC metro area and you have questions about the inspection provisions of our contract or if you are interested in buying a home but are not sure how to start, please give the Lise Howe Group a call.  We would love to help you find a dream home and navigate the contract process! 



Re-Blogged 1 time:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Gabe Sanders 04/29/2018 11:00 PM
Home Buying
home inspection
lise howe group

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William Feela
Realtor, Whispering Pines Realty 651-674-5999 No.

And every deal is different and every inspector is different.   Some are picky and others are not good enough

Apr 17, 2018 07:56 PM #1
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Lise, I always tell my clients finding the house is the easy part, then the hard work begins, Endre

Apr 17, 2018 11:24 PM #2
Sally K. & David L. Hanson
EXP Realty 414-525-0563 - Brookfield, WI
WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce

Inspections are required for all our buyers...the best surprise is none at all !

Apr 18, 2018 03:22 AM #3
James Dray
Fathom Realty AR LLC - Bentonville, AR
Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results

Morning Lise.

There are a lot of so called inspectors around.  In our State a inspector must be certified by the State.  That means a lot of training and CE.  

Apr 18, 2018 03:22 AM #4
Gita Bantwal
RE/MAX Centre Realtors - Warwick, PA
REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel

I hope home buyers will read this post and take your advice

Apr 18, 2018 03:43 AM #5
Sheila Anderson
Referral Group Incorporated - East Brunswick, NJ
The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133

Good morning Lise. This is excellent and describes well the entire process and what to look for. Should be a handout.

Apr 18, 2018 05:50 AM #6
Nina Hollander
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage | Charlotte, NC - Charlotte, NC
Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor

Very thorough list, Lise. In NC we have no inspection contingencies or financing, as such. We have a due diligence period during which a buyer can avail himself of inspections. Also, here in NC home inspectors do not inspect roofs... that's a separate inspector, as are any more invasive inspections of mechanicals. And here inthe south, we always, but always, recommend a Wood Destroying Insect Inspection!

Apr 18, 2018 06:45 AM #7
Brian England
Arizona Focus Realty - Gilbert, AZ
MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ

This is a good write up for buyers, the home inspection is very important, even if the home appears to be in tip top shape.

Apr 18, 2018 07:30 AM #8
Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

This is an excellent overview for buyers of what a home inspection is all about and why it is so important. I find some buyers simply don't know what to expect, even though they may know it's important. And as we all know looks can be deceiving.


Apr 18, 2018 10:50 AM #9
Gabe Sanders
Real Estate of Florida specializing in Martin County Residential Homes, Condos and Land Sales - Stuart, FL
Stuart Florida Real Estate

Good morning Lise.  A great overview of the inspection process for new or unfamiliar buyers (and sellers).

Apr 19, 2018 05:32 AM #10
Debbie Reynolds
Platinum Properties - Clarksville, TN
Your Dedicated Clarksville TN Real Estate Agent

Great post, Lise. this tells the consumer what to expect and how to go about getting one. It is always good to recommend one on all types of properties.

Apr 19, 2018 06:05 PM #11
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Lise Howe

Assoc. Broker and Attorney Licensed in DC, MD, VA,
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