What to expect from an inspection
As a buyer, seller or home owner, what should you expect from your inspector?
An inspector should take you around with him for a complete visit of the house and its components. From attic to crawl spaces, to entrance, to water system, including heating and cooling. He should look at everything possible, determine and explain whether each one is working as it should, and if not, suggest solutions to the problems or suggest to have an expert look into it.
An inspector should enter every part of the home which he deems safe to see if the house is properly protected against water and air infiltration, and to test if the mechanical systems work well.
The inspector is not a purchase advisor… his role is to explain everything about the house’s condition, so that you understand and can make an informed decision about the purchase. Even a very well maintained house will usually have a few minor items listed.
The decision to buy or not is always left to you. When you leave the house after the inspection, and after reading the report, you should be able to say that you feel comfortable with the items found during the inspection and that you understand the consequences of each issue. If not, call the inspector and ask for more details… he should be available to help you until you are comfortable with the information he provides. For example, if you are buying a house and you do not own a hammer, you are probably looking at houses which are completely finished to your liking. In this case, you might need more help in understanding inspection details. On the other hand, if you are a handyman, you may be very comfortable looking for a fixer upper.
It is very helpful if you communicate your level of comfort to your inspector, so he can speak in terms you understand. Every person has his/her own level of comfort and understanding. We, the inspectors, deal with various type of people, from contractors who work in the construction trade, to Professionals of every type - some who have no idea what it takes to make the house function and be comfortable and safe in it.
The inspector may speak technically, if he thinks you understand and spend more time explaining items that you do understand. Don’t be shy about asking questions, and make sure to let him know if you don’t understand. Otherwise, you are not getting as much as you should out of the process.
There are many ways to build homes and over the years these have changed, as well as the laws governing the construction trade. When the inspector visits the house he is not looking to see if the house is built to today’s code. He is looking to see if the house is in good “working order” and if it is “safe”.