Ever wonder ‘What is a home inspection?’ or ‘What are the most common findings in home inspection reports?’. You’re not alone. Here’s Inspector Michael with a new blog series to help give you some answers.
A house. For most people, it is the single biggest investment they will make in life. It is where families gather, and memories are made. We plan for a house purchase. We plan (and hope) to have it paid off one day – ideally by retirement! We budget and dream of home remodeling projects. We have our “to do” lists for our house. Often this list is a divided into two lists – the ‘need to do’ list and the ‘want to do’ list. Even so, a house is a source of comfort, security, and pride for a family.
And while it can be a source of wonderful moments, it can also cause some of the greatest stressors. With the amount of maintenance and repairs associated with a house, it is easy to get behind and let things go. Never does this become more evident than during the home selling / buying process. When it comes to needed repairs and deficiencies in a house, it has been said that we will live with a lot more than we will buy. So, during a home purchase process, the home inspection can be a source of anxiety. The seller does not want someone to focus on the things in their home are broken or in need of repair. The fear is that a buyer may not want the house once they know all that is wrong with it, or they will ask the seller to pay for many of the repairs. The buyer wants to know everything that is wrong and may strive to find the ‘perfect’ house, or at least the one with as few defects as possible.
Most often a house falls between these two extremes. The trick is being able to separate what is truly important to the basic integrity of a house from those things that are simply ‘cosmetic’ or things that are relatively easy to correct. This is true for both sides in a real estate transaction. It is important for a seller to know what is important, so that they can avoid some of the common issues that are found during a home inspection. It is important for the buyer so that they can distinguish between visual / cosmetic issues (that are typically easy to fix) and important / structural issues that they should focus on.
A home inspection report shows many things about a house. It provides details about various systems within a house. It reports on any deficiencies found within those systems. A home inspection is, however, limited in its scope. First, it is limited to findings only at the time of the actual inspection, not prior to or after. Second, it is limited to a visual examination. An inspection does not dismantle a system component to find out why it is defective (for example, a home inspection will not include reasons why the dishwasher does not work, only that it is inoperable). Finally, it is limited to using normal operating controls – controls that a homeowner uses to operate those same systems.
What it does not do is give a pass/fail grade to a house. A home inspection is not a municipality code inspection. A home inspection evaluates a house from the perspective of function and safety. Function: does it work? Does it work properly? Safety: can it cause harm? Can it cause damage? These are the things that will make up the bulk of a home inspection report.
It is these findings that are important for a buyer to be aware of before they make that major investment. Based on the report, are they satisfied with the condition of the house they intend to purchase? Is the house at a level that they will be able to live with its condition? Which house issues are truly important? Which are easily correctable? Which are not?
Sellers, too, can benefit from a home inspection done prior to marketing their house. Using the findings of an inspection report can prevent much of the anxiety of buyers and lead to a faster sale with a higher price. A seller can use their pre-sale report as a ‘to-do’ list to correct many issues that can deter buyers from their house once marketing begins.
So, it is important for either seller or buyer to understand what a home inspection report shows about the house’s condition. Items listed as a function or safety recommendations have causes and possible consequences, but all are correctable. While a home inspection report does not analyze specific causes or describe methods to correct of defects, it will describe the defect and identify the possible consequences. This becomes the most valuable tool of the inspection report. We don’t know what we don’t know. Never is this more true when it comes to a house. Knowing what the defects are and what can happen because of the defect, helps a buyer (or seller) know where to put their focus when compiling that ‘to do’ list.
Generally, there are certain common findings that are seen in houses. Function and safety items that show up most often. Maybe not surprisingly, the most common items are some of the easiest for qualified professionals to correct. Many of them can be completed by a qualified and experienced handyman.
What follows in this series of posts are some of the most common inspection findings our company sees. They are not intended to be in a particular order of importance or occurrence. They will provide information on the defect and possible consequences if not corrected. The series is intended to assist buyers and sellers in easing the anxiety during the home buying transaction.