Imagine a scenario. You just moved into your dream home. You’ve unpacked and started decorating when you get a nasty surprise. Maybe there’s a leak in the roof, a plumbing issue, or a major electrical failure. Unexpected complications like these can be costly and potentially dangerous!
How could this happen? As a savvy homebuyer, I know you made sure a home inspection was completed before closing the sale.
Once you’re under contract, you must ensure a thorough and professional home inspection is completed. It’s not enough to simply check the home inspection off your list without doing a little investigation of your own. A house could look pristine from the outside, but you never know what a fresh coat of paint might be hiding.
In this article, I’ll take you through the home inspection process, tell you what to look for, and teach you how to hire a capable and trustworthy inspector.
Hiring a reputable and experienced inspector is harder than you think! Most states (including Colorado) don’t require certification. So, just because someone has a glossy business card and a flashy website doesn’t mean they have the know-how to do a proper home inspection.
Find someone who is highly recommended, works full-time in the field and is affiliated with a professional organization. Additionally, look for someone familiar with local building codes and the type of construction and age of this home.
In my experience, word of mouth is a good way to find an inspector. Reach out for a recommendation! You can’t always trust online reviews, but I promise you can trust your loyal local real estate agent.
Home Inspection Checklist
Make your own home inspection checklist.
Ok, so this really shouldn’t be your job. However, it doesn’t hurt to double-check that your inspector covers the basics.
A home inspector will visually inspect the physical condition of the home and its major systems. A standard checklist usually includes the following:
- Heating system
- Cooling system
- Electrical system
- Major appliances — kitchen/bath/laundry
What to Expect From a Home Inspection in Colorado
Inspectors look for deficiencies in plain view. They usually won’t pull up the carpet or look for hidden defects. But hey, you can always ask.
If something seems suspicious, ask the sellers for permission to remove carpeting or paneling so an inspector can take a closer look.
Also, if the inspector has serious concerns about a specific element, then you may need to hire an expert— such as a structural engineer, HVAC contractor, or plumber to give you a more thorough evaluation.
If a home is vacant, make sure the seller has all of the utilities turned on during the inspection so the inspector can see how they operate. You don’t want to pay for a second trip out to your home!
Time and Cost
On average, a standard inspection can take two to four hours, depending on the size of the home. If your inspection only takes 30 minutes, it’s a sign you’re not getting your money’s worth.
Ask to schedule your appointment early in the day so you have a “fresh” inspector who will take time at your home. Finally, expect to pay a few hundred dollars. The average cost of a home inspection in Colorado is $300.
For an additional fee, inspectors may offer special services. They may inspect the home for wood-destroying insects, rodents, mold, sprinkler systems, septic tanks, and even environmental hazards like radon or lead. Some can evaluate other risks from carbon monoxide and asbestos.
If you’re serious about buying a particular home, the initial cost of these inspections is well worth it. Feeling confident in the safety of your new home is priceless.
Show and Tell
Show up for the home inspection in person. It’s an opportunity to gain some behind-the-scenes knowledge about the home you’re about to purchase. You’ve already taken a surface-level tour of the house. Now, take a peek behind the curtain before you commit.
Additionally, tagging along for the inspection gives you a chance to take benefit from your inspector’s professional expertise. You’ll get a glimpse of how the home functions and take note of potential problem areas or appliances you want to pay extra attention to as a homeowner. Don’t be embarrassed to ask questions and take notes.
After the inspection, you will receive a signed report summarizing what they discovered. This report is your property, and no other party is entitled to see it. Save a copy for your records.
Remember, it’s important to understand that an inspection is not a warranty. The inspection is limited to what is visually accessible at the time of inspection. Many inspectors carry errors-and-omissions insurance, but their contracts often limit their liability to a refund of the fee.
Take time to carefully review this report and reconcile it with the seller’s disclosure statement. If nothing is amiss, you can go forward with your purchase.
However, if the inspector discovers a problem, you need to make a plan of action to resolve the issue or cancel the contract.
Refer to my previous article on red flags for a more detailed look at deal-breaking issues you may encounter during the inspection. As a general rule, make sure your inspector keeps a keen eye on the following:
•Lack of general maintenance
•Do-it-yourself additions or any DIY work that isn’t up to code
•Moisture in the basement
•Water marks on the ceiling or walls
•Cracks in the wall or sloping floors
•Toxic materials in homes built before 1970, such as lead paint or asbestos
•Faulty/ outdated wiring
If the inspector finds a problem, you may need to hire an expert and get some estimates for needed repairs before you can move forward with the sale.
Knowing what you’re willing to/ can afford to fix is important. Some problems have simple solutions! Maybe a quick trip to the hardware store is all you need. Other problems could cost you thousands of dollars and a lot of precious time.
If you want to go ahead with the sale, decide if you want the sellers to fix the problem themselves or simply lower the asking price to compensate. If you have a choice, sometimes hiring your own contractors and supervising repairs is smarter. Before issuing a formal “request to repair,” consider the seller’s incentive to hire the cheapest contractor or to replace appliances with the least expensive brands.
You’re Not Alone
Home inspection negotiations can be stressful, but don’t worry; negotiating to ensure my clients get a fair deal is my specialty!
Stay tuned for next week’s article, “Review Those Condo Docs!” Purchasing a condo unit is like buying into a business. You need to determine how stable and financially sound this “business venture” is before taking it on.
I'm Lauren Haug! I'm a teacher-turned-real estate agent, and I teach people how to build wealth through real estate in Northern Colorado.
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