I remember my first home inspection as a Realtor. I was terrified! I was new to the business, I had just secured my first conditional sale and to be quite honest - I needed the cheque! I had been told that a home inspection was one of the biggest reasons for a deal to fall apart, and what I hated most was that it felt completely out of my hands.
What I learned that day, and have carried forward to all of my Buyer clients since then is that home inspections are not designed to scare people, and are really meant to find the big issues. The ultimate goal: protect the buyer against major expenses. Through my experience, here are the 5 things buyers should really focus on in a home inspection:
1. The Roof
Depending on the size of the house, roof replacements can range anywhere from $2000 - $50,000+. During an inspection it is critical to get a good understanding of the reasonable life expectancy of the roof. If you're planning on living in this house for a while, chances are you'll have to replace the roof at some point. It's important to know how soon you'll have to replace it, so that you can budget for the expense.
2. The Windows
Windows should be treated similar to a roof during an inspection. Windows have a limited lifespan and replacing them can be very costly. Windows that are functioning poorly can create moisture issues in the house and can also have a major impact on your utility bills.
3. The Foundation
The foundation is perhaps the most important thing to check in a home inspection, because repairing foundations can be extraordinarily expensive!! Home Inspectors will typically look at foundations from inside the house and outside the house in an effort to find cracks that are big enough to cause damage. Most concrete foundations will have a few minor cracks which are nothing to worry about, but make sure all potential issues are brought to your attention.
4. The Electrical Wiring
Typically this is not an issue in newer homes, and many older homes have had their electrical wiring updated. During an inspection, you want to make sure you find out if the electrical wiring is up to code, and more importantly; is it safe?
5. The Small Stuff
Remember at the beginning of this article when I mentioned that home inspections are all about finding the big things? Well it's also important to not get into a new house that has too many little things that need to be fixed. The little things can add up, so make sure you're aware of all of the top priority items. Home Inspectors will usually give you a report filled with a bunch of little things. Make sure to ask them which things actually need to be addressed.
Home Inspections should not be a scary thing. The purpose is not to strike fear into the eyes of a buyer, rather to inform them. This is part of the "doing your homework" phase in the buying process. It's important to know exactly what you're buying!