Home Inspection

The Home Inspection, and What Can I Do Ahead of Time?

The home inspection is typically required and paid by buyers and their lenders prior to closing escrow, typically withing 10 days of acceptance. A licensed home inspector will visually inspect the home, covering a long checklist of items to review.

Included in the Home Inspection

Home Inspectors will typically inspect the following areas.

  • Interior: walls, ceilings, floors, doors, windows, staircases, railings and fireplace ventilation
  • Exterior: foundation, frame, siding, porches, balconies, chimneys, walkways and driveways
  • Roof: shingles, gutters and any skylights
  • Plumbing: pipes, drains, pumps, and water heaters
  • Electric: service panels, breakers and any fuses
  • Heating and cooling: equipment and ventilation
  • Unfinished spaces: Insulation and ventilation in the attic and basement

Not included in the General Inspection

Home Inspections are visual only and do not entail breaking open walls or digging into yards. General inspectors do not inspect the following areas.

  • Interior: Kitchen and laundry room appliances, central vacuum systems, fire and smoke alarms, intruder alarm systems
  • Exterior: detached garages, sheds, wells, swimming pools, hot tubs and sprinkler systems
  • Roof: television antennae, satellite dishes
  • Hidden: Pipes and electrical wires that are underground or behind a wall
  • Environmental hazards: radon, asbestos or lead may be inspected separately by specially trained inspectors
  • Pests: Termite and other pests may be inspected separately by specially trained inspectors

Request for Repairs

The home inspector typically finds many items, even in new construction, that are not up to best construction practices. The inspection may also show that older homes are not up to modern construction codes.

Sellers often feel that most items on the inspector’s suggested “Fix It” list are unnecessary. Buyers often feel the opposite — the items on the list should all be negotiated and remedied prior to close of escrow.

Negotiation ensues via the request for repair process. Who “wins” is often a function of leverage. In a seller’s market, sellers often make only some or none of the repairs. In a buyer’s market, the reverse is true. Win -Win typically prevails if you negotiate correctly.

Limitations of the home inspection

The Home Inspection Report often reference areas that are outside of the inspector’s expertise. For example, it is common to see items such as:

  • Recommend a licensed roofer be contacted to examine the roof
  • Examination of the foundation is beyond the scope of this inspection
  • Recommend a licensed electrician to install GFCI plugs

The buyer typically pays for the Home Inspection, if they decide it is important enough to conduct them prior to escrow.

Smart sellers inspect ahead of time

Smart sellers conduct their own general home inspection prior to listing their home or before entertaining offers.

This allows sellers the time to make any repairs they feel are necessary. Sellers can also make the Home Inspection report available to potential buyers and note that they have already fixed all the items they are willing to fix. By doing so, buyers must factor any additional repairs into their offer price.

This is smart, because it reduces or removes the buyer’s ability to renegotiate the selling price after the deal is in escrow.