Homebuyers in Dothan often think they know everything they need to know about a property by the time they’ve put in their offer. But this is rarely the case. That’s why our inspectors follow Standards of Practice when completing our home inspection checklist.
A home inspection is one of the most impactful steps in the process of buying a home. Whether you’re buying in Enterprise or Ozark, for most home buyers, an inspection offers the reassurance you need to spend your hard-earned money on a home by offering insight into the property’s true condition.
A home inspection also offers an opportunity for homebuyers to back out of a purchase if they find that the property is not in the condition they expected it to be in. Additionally, home inspections allow sellers to address a home’s defects and negotiate the price of the home accordingly.
In this post, we discuss all that entails a home inspection and take you through our home inspection checklist to ensure you understand what we check, what we don’t, and how to interpret our findings.
What Is A Home Inspection?
A home inspection is perhaps the most critical part of the home buying process and involves a visual examination of the home to determine the integrity of its structure and systems. And while we inspect a property thoroughly, all home inspections are non-invasive in nature. This means we cannot see what’s behind your walls or in between your floors – unless there is a crawl space and attic – in which case we inspect those spaces too.
Home inspections usually reveal minor issues. However, if our inspectors find significant concerns, buyers can negotiate the price with the seller or ask them to pay for the repairs before the sale. In a worst-case scenario, buyers can cancel the sale if the buyer and seller are unable to reach an agreement on how to handle the issues.
What’s the Difference Between a Home Inspection and a Home Appraisal?
Home inspections are different from home appraisals. Appraisals are carried out by mortgage lenders and only estimate how much the property is worth according to property rates in the area and the property’s overall condition.
Since appraisals are done to make sure the home is worth the amount being lent, appraisers do not go over the fine details of the property.
Home inspections take place after a property seller accepts a buyer’s offer. Both parties must sign a purchase agreement before proceeding with the inspection, and the home goes into escrow until things are finalized.
Homebuyers must note that they are responsible for paying for the inspection since it protects them from purchasing a property that needs significant repairs.
What Buyers Need to Know About Home Inspections
The home inspection process isn’t limited to what happens on inspection day — there’s a lot more to it than that. Here’s what you need to know to ensure you have all the information about the home you’re buying.
Home Inspection Contingency
A home inspection contingency is a clause on the real estate contract that indicates that the purchase of the property depends on the home inspection results. This secures the buyer and allows them to negotiate the repairs or cancel the sale if the property needs significant repairs.
If you decide to add this contingency to your real estate contract, you will need to schedule and conduct the home inspection within the time frame specified in the contract. Any follow-up evaluations will need to be carried out in the same period.
For instance, if the inspector recommends consulting a plumber for a more in-depth look at the property’s plumbing issues, you will need to find a plumber and consult with them in the specified period. You will also need to decide to move forward or withdraw from the sale in this period.
Generally in the Wiregrass area, buyers get between one and two weeks to get the inspection and follow-up evaluations (if any) done.
Besides having a contingency, it’s also important for buyers to look at the seller’s disclosure statement before an expert gives you their opinion about the property’s condition.
Finding a Home Inspector
Finding a reliable home inspector in the Dothan area is typically not a hassle since your real estate agent will recommend some. You can also search Google for “home inspectors dothan al”, for example, and see a list of inspectors and the reviews they’ve earned from their customers.
When finding a home inspector, look for these things:
- the inspection company must be bonded, insured, and licensed (assuming your state requires a license); and
- the inspection company should be experienced and have good reviews.
You can read about our experience and see our reviews here.
When calling the company for an appointment with an inspector, ask them what the inspection will include and how long it will take. Make sure you understand what you’re paying for and what they will inspect before agreeing on a price.
It is also vital for buyers to discuss what other inspections they may need and whether the company offers them or not such as a pool or structural inspection.
What Happens on Home Inspection Day
Home inspectors are experts and know what they should be looking for, but this doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can do to ensure the process goes smoothly. We’ve written an entire article on How to Prepare for a Home Inspection in 10 Easy Steps.
We recommend that every buyer take advantage of our audiovisual recording of the walk-through our inspectors perform for every inspection and call or text us with any questions they have. You may also attend the home inspection and ask all the questions they want.
Watching the walk-through video or having a conversation with the home inspector will give you context for what you will find in your inspection report.
As a homebuyer, it’s important that you not take the defects in the property as a red flag. Remember: no home is perfect, and every home you pick will have a unique set of issues. And these issues are easily and inexpensively resolved most of the time.
Rather than looking at the number of issues in the home, it’s best to dig into the severity of the issues and find out if they will affect you and your family in the long run. Further, it’s important to determine whether there are any deal-breakers that leave you unwilling to purchase the home.
Home inspections are essentially an in-depth and final look at a property before you spend the money and buy it.
The Home Inspection Report
Any home inspector worth their salt will send you a report a few days after the home inspection and walk you through their findings. We send our reports within 24 hours of completing the inspection. The report will comprise the home’s major features and notes on any problematic issues on the property.
Here is one of our sample home inspection reports.
You can expect the report to have many problems listed, but this should not alarm you. You should work with your inspector to discern what issues require immediate attention, and those that are basic wear and tear items you may choose to address at a later date.
Negotiating the Price After Inspection
If the home inspection report shows significant damage, you can ask the seller to cover the cost of the repairs. While you cannot expect the seller to pay for all the repairs, you can use the information from the report to show the seller the additional expenses you would have to incur due to the repairs.
Generally speaking, approaching the seller and asking them to pay for only the major repairs is the reasonable way to go. If some damage in the home can be described as normal wear and tear, the seller will not be responsible for it. You can expect to pay for the minor repairs yourself.
Alternatively, you can negotiate a discount on the home price and get the repairs done yourself.
Home Inspection Checklist
During a home inspection, our inspectors will look at:
- Basement, Foundation, Crawlspace, and Structure
- Heating and Cooling Systems
- Electrical systems
- Attic, Insulation and Ventilation
- Doors, Windows, and Interior
It’s important to note that our inspectors won’t tear the property apart and inspect all the underlying piping and internal wiring. As mentioned earlier, home inspections are non-invasive.
However, bear in mind that the more our inspectors can access, the more complete the inspection report will be. So be sure to remind your agent to request that all crawl spaces be clear of items and debris, and attics be accessible.
Home inspections take between two and four hours, depending on the size of the property and the extent of the issues discovered.
Here’s a home inspection checklist to help you ensure that all aspects of the home inspection are complete:
Exterior Structure and Grounds
- Foundation should not have large cracks
- No leakage from the septic tank
- The drainage is away from the house and does not have standing water
- The exterior walls are straight and don’t sag
- Windows and door frames appear in good condition
- The siding does not have any cracks or damage
- Bricks of the home are undamaged (no cracks in joints)
- The paint is not stained and is not flaking
- All roof shingles are in the right places and are not damaged
- Gutters drain properly and are not decaying
- Chimney(s) are straight and undamaged
- The shed, fence, deck, and garage do not have any rotting wood or termites
- No moisture
- No water damage to the floor above the basement
- The sump pump is working correctly
- No cutting, boring, or notching that may present a structural or safety concern
- No staining from the roof
- The structure of the roof is in good condition and has no decay
- The attic is correctly installed and sufficiently insulated
- The electrical splices are contained
- The insulation is installed correctly and is sufficient for the attic
- The attic is adequately ventilated through vents and end louvers
- The plumbing visible under the sink is not broken and does not have any water damage
- All hot and cold fixtures have adequate water pressure
- All drains in the bathrooms drain smoothly
- The toilets fill and flush properly
- The toilet is stable and does not have any stains at the base
- There is no leakage around the base of the shower or tub
- The plumbing visible under the sink does not have water damage
- The exhaust fan works and vents to the outside
- Functioning garbage disposal
- The sink has appropriate water pressure and drains properly
- All built-in appliances operate properly
- The ceilings, walls, and floors all appear level and do not have stains or damage
- Doors open and close properly
- Switches operate correctly
- All rooms have an adequate number of power outlets
- All rooms have heating and AC vents
- The fireplace is cleaned and lined, with no cracking and staining
- Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are located appropriately and are in working condition
- The stairway’s treads and risers are in good condition
- The wiring is in good condition
- All cables are secured and protected
- No exposed wiring
- The service panel works and has all cables attached correctly
Heating And Cooling Systems
- There is no gas odor
- Air filters are clean
- Flues do not have open seams
- No visible rust on the cooling unit
- The systems operate correctly
- Air conditioning and heating operate well
- The visible pipes aren’t damaged or leaking
- The water heater isn’t rusted
- The water pressure is acceptable across the home
- The hot water is not hotter than 125-degrees Fahrenheit
What Home Inspectors Will Not Look At
As our checklist above would indicate, our home inspectors only examine the components that are readily accessible. We follow the Standards of Practice provided by the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors.
Additionally, some companies offer services like mold testing, pool inspections, and radon testing which typically come at a small additional cost.
It’s important to note that companies limit their liability to the fee you paid if they miss checking some part of the property correctly.
You will need to do your due diligence and ideally work with your realtor to ensure that the home isn’t full of the seller’s belongings so our inspectors can do their work.
Conclusion: How to Use this Home Inspection Checklist
Buying a home is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make, and the last thing you want after buying a home is a surprise expense.
Though you have our professional home inspection checklist handy, bringing in an expert will give you the information you need to limit the risk of future repairs.
Printing out the checklist above and keeping it handy during the inspection could come in handy.