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- What is a home inspection?
A home inspection is a methodical tour of the physical structure and mechanical systems of the property. It is an investigation of all of the accessible areas in the home for signs of age, deferred maintenance, neglect, poor craftsmanship, and safety hazards. Detailed notes are taken and catalogued in a digital report which is sent to the client as-soon-as-possible (typically with three hours) after the inspection tour.
- How long does the inspection take?
Typically an inspection will take between 2 and 3 hours, depending on the size and accessibility of the property. Larger homes or commercial properties with multiple mechanical systems may take longer to inspect. We allow for as much time as needed to complete a thorough review of the property and answer all of your questions.
- When should I schedule an inspection?
You should schedule an inspection as soon as your offer has been accepted by the seller. Typically you have a few days in which to conduct the inspection and consider its findings before you continue with or decline the transaction.
- Should I attend the home inspection?
It is not required that you attend, but it is highly recommended. During the inspection tour, you will be able to discover the problems with the property that your inspector is trained to find. Seeing and discussing the property with a trained professional gives you a much better understanding of the overall condition of the home. Even if there are few problems, the home inspector will show you some of the systems and devices in the home with which you should be familiar. Your inspector will also point out some of the positive aspects of the property that may help you in your decision-making. He may be able to make recommendations or suggestions that can ease anxiety about the purchasing process.
- Should the seller be there during the home inspection?
It certainly is their right to be present as you and the inspector go through their home. However, if they are in a defensive mood, it may add tension to the situation. Out of professional courtesy, the listing agent can try to arrange for the seller to be absent. On the other hand, they can sometimes be a great source of information about the condition and maintenance of the property.
- Can I call my inspector after the tour if I have questions about the inspection report?
By all means! The purpose of the home inspection is to provide information and clarity. If there is something that you don’t understand, the inspector will be glad to work with you until the issue is fully explained.
- Can my inspector send copies of my report to my agent?
Not without your written approval. Typically an initialed clause in the inspection contract will allow us to send the report to whomever you wish. The report is your property and is for your use solely. If you wish to share it with your real estate team, you must authorize the inspector to distribute it.
- Does the seller get a copy of the inspection report?
Again, the inspection report is your property and if you care to share it with them, that is your privilege. If you have an amicable relationship with the sellers, it may be a quick way of informing them of the things you would like to have repaired or improved. However, it is typical to incorporate the report into your own list of items that you will use to negotiate the purchase price.
- What if I discover something wrong with the property that the home inspector missed?
Please remember that the inspector is only authorized to do a visual inspection of accessible areas of the property. They cannot cut access holes into the walls or move furniture to reveal hidden defects. If a serious problem is found in an area that was available to the inspector, you may request a refund of the inspection fee. If this does not satisfy you, you may request an arbitration hearing to air your grievances.
- Can I schedule the inspector to return for the final walkthrough?
Yes, most companies will gladly do this for a reduced fee. Indeed, this may be a wise thing to do if certain ‘suspicious’ areas of the property were not fully accessible due to furniture or stored items. If some major repair was required, you may wish to have the inspector check it before you proceed. For new construction, some systems may not have been completely installed and tested at the first inspection. In both cases, if the second home inspection is caused by the negligence or delay on the part of the seller, you may ask that they pay the inspection fee.
- Will the inspector walk on the roof?
Only if the roof is accessible with an approved ladder and conditions are considered safe should an inspector walk on the roof. Obviously, snow or rain on a pitched roof are not considered safe conditions on which to walk. Because of their brittle nature, wood shingles, slate and tile roofs are prone to damage if walked on. If there is a suspicious detail on the roof that causes concern, most inspectors will climb a ladder up to the eaves to get a closer look.
- What if the roof is too high to reach or there is no access hatch to a flat roof?
For roofs that are beyond reach, the inspector will view it from the ground with binoculars as best as possible. If this method is not satisfactory to you, they will suggest a qualified roofing company to send a small crew with the appropriate ladders or scaffolding to reach the roof line. There will usually be an additional fee for this service.
- What if the condominium management will not allow my inspector on the roof?
As with all areas and systems that are inaccessible in a condominium property, we strongly urge you to study the condominium documents with particular attention to management reports and association board meeting minutes to find references to recent, on-going, or anticipated repairs. Please note: in some cases you must make prior arrangements and schedule access to these areas and systems with the engineering staff. The seller or listing agent typically makes these arrangements. Even then, it may be a matter of policy not to allow unauthorized persons on the roof; i.e. high rise buildings.
- Will my inspector give me cost estimates for any or all of the reported repairs he recommends to be made?
Some will. Some won’t. Even those who do will tell you that it is a very inaccurate science and will give you a very broad range of costs. This is due in part to the very wide range of prices offered in the marketplace and to the limited view he has of the problem at hand. There may be larger problems hidden behind what appears on the surface to be something very small and manageable.
- What if the inspector finds a dangerous defect in the property? Who does he tell?
As your advocate, he will, of course, tell you. Depending on the nature and degree of the defect (i.e. seriously leaking natural gas from a corroded pipe) he is obligated to tell the owner as soon as possible so they may take action to repair the defect immediately. If they cannot be reached, he may take the initiative to call the respective utility company so they may shut off the service before catastrophe strikes. Again, depending on the serious nature of the problem, all occupants of the building should be informed and perhaps evacuated.
- Do you recommend contractors to do the repairs?
No. That is a direct conflict of interest and a violation of company policy. We do not solicit or perform any of the work that we recommend. We have no affiliation with and do not receive referral fees from any contractors. We will provide you with information on how and where to begin your search for companies that may be able to assist you.
- Does your inspection report include photos of the problem areas of the property?
Yes. We provide digital color photos of the more serious problems we discover during the home inspection. For problems concerning water leakage and/or poor insulation, we also provide infrared thermal images to help illustrate the scope of the problem.