Quick Guide: Getting a Home Inspection
The listing agent accepted your offer? Congrats on finding your new home! Now it’s time to get to know the house inside and out. Conducting a home inspection is a vital step in the process of purchasing a new home. Catching any major issues with a home before you purchase it is an essential consumer protection service.
We’ll walk you through the inspection timeline, the inspection itself, what to expect from a good home inspection company, and some tips for getting the most out of this crucial component of your home purchase.
When does the home inspection take place?
- The seller (via his or her listing agent) accepts your offer, including an inspection contingency, and you both sign a purchase agreement.
- The house goes into escrow and you have a set number of days to conduct the inspection. Ten days is typical (there are times when it might be appropriate to shorten the period and increase the attractiveness of their offer).
- The home inspection occurs. We’ll go through everything the inspection covers below.
- Per the results of the inspection, a repair addendum is submitted to the listing agent. The buyer and seller will negotiate and come to an agreement concerning which issues the seller will remedy before the sale.
- Once repairs are negotiated and agreed upon, steps will be taken to fix any issues and the sale of the home will move forward.
- If there are significant issues with the home, you can opt to have a reinspect done before the final closing date. This is something you can discuss with your home inspector.
If there are major problems with the home, you will generally have the ability to back out of the deal at this point. This is why we recommend a home inspection contingency with your purchase agreement, so that you have an exit strategy.
Knowing the timeline is an effective way to reduce the stress of this big and complicated transaction. Breath easy, and if you have questions let us know.
What does the inspector consider?
A good home inspection digs into every nook and cranny of your prospective home, and will typically take 3-4 hours to complete. Be wary of inspectors offering expedited services; a thorough inspection takes time. Attend the inspection, as it is an invaluable clinic, given by an expert, for the operation and maintenance of the home.
The following is a general checklist of elements and systems inspected, but items are contingent on individual homes.
- Crawlspace and Basement (structure)
- Roof and Attic
- Electrical System
- Plumbing System
- Heating and Air Conditioning
An inspection will include a full written and verbal report on the house upon completion. The inspector will go over any issues with the home, and describe any routine maintenance required for the upkeep of the home and its systems. This is also your chance to ask any questions you might have. We recommend that you don’t hold back, have fun getting to know your castle and take advantage of the inspector’s knowledge.
What to expect from your home inspector
Selecting a quality home inspection company is the key to getting the most out of this service. Shop around and interview a few companies. Keep the following factors in mind when making your decision and don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions:
- Licensing & Insurance
- Oregon regulates home inspection services (ORS 701.350,355). Make sure your inspector has current licensing with the Oregon Construction Contractor’s Board (CCB) and is an Oregon Certified Home Inspector (OCHI). Inspectors can have other licensing outside of the two required in the state. The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) and the National Association of Home Inspectors are two other common certifications to look for. Oregon also requires continuing education programs to maintain licensing.
- Look for an inspection company with errors and omissions insurance.
- Use the CCB License search to see an inspection company’s info, including any complaints against them.
- Ask your potential property detective plenty of questions about their experience.
How many years has their company been in business? How many inspections have you completed? What does your inspection cover? What’s your pricing scale? How long will the inspection take? Will I be able to attend the inspection?
- Sample report
- An experienced and reputable inspection company will happily provide you with a sample inspection report. A good report is comprehensive, detailed and written in a way that is easy for you as the homebuyer to understand. Be sure that any defects that must be addressed are clearly defined and delineated from suggestions and recommendations.
- Take a look at this sample report from PDX Inspect.
- Consider factors beyond price
- Home inspection pricing varies quite a bit depending on the size and layout of your home. Most inspections start at around $300 and go up from there. Be wary of going below that mark as you don’t want to sacrifice quality on such a crucial element.
We recommend that you research several home inspection companies before making a decision, but we’ve been working with PDX Inspect for more than a decade and fully endorse their long track record of fine work. Give them a call and ask away. You can also get a feel for pricing, look at mold information, read testimonials or look at FAQs on their website.
Tips for a successful home inspection
There is clearly a lot to consider when it’s time for a home inspection. You could spend days scouring the internet for preparation advice (and probably still will – we certainly did), but we thought it might be helpful to leave you with a few final pieces of advice.
- The seller is not obligated to fix anything
There are a few things a seller will be required by the state to fix, such as smoke alarm placement, but for the most part, the buyer and seller will negotiate repairs. After the inspection, you will submit a repair addendum which the seller can counter. You can ask the seller to fix any or all issues or discuss a price alteration.
- Have your brand new home inspected too
I was driving to work with a brand new, never been used leak proof coffee thermos, filled to the brim with piping hot caffeine elixir. Little did I know the lid was defective, an errant seal causing the contents of the mug to be swiftly deposited onto me in traffic. Of course I was wearing a white shirt.
Homes are complex, and new homes can (and generally do) have defects too, so it’s always best to catch them before they end up costing you much more than a new oxford button down.
- Ask your home inspector questions after the inspection
One of the most important and valuable aspects of your inspection lies in fully utilizing the knowledge of your home inspector. Ask as many questions as possible to really get to know your house. Which repairs should I prioritize (what would you fix first if this were your home)? Who should I contact to repair what? Can you show me how the natural gas lines work(or any other system in the home)? Fully utilizing the knowledge of the inspector is a huge stress and time saver, and they will enjoy helping you get acquainted with your home.
- Digital photos are your friend in an inspection report
When you’re interviewing inspectors, ask if they provide photos of each item they refer to in the final report. There will be a lot to take in on inspection day and having a quick visual reference to jog your memory can be really handy. For an example, you can take a look at the sample report from PDX Inspect.
- Keep in mind that the inspection is limited to what is visible
When you talk to your prospective home inspector about what they inspect, keep in mind that some parts of the home might not be covered. Though inspection companies vary, most inspections cover what the inspector can see with the naked eye. The home’s roof, HVAC systems, pests that might be in the walls, landscaping and plumbing could all be outside the scope of a home inspection and require a specialist.
When you obtain a sample report prior to hiring, take a look at what’s covered and ask the inspection company what they do and don’t inspect.
Good luck on your home inspection! If you have any questions or feedback don’t hesitate to contact us. If you’re selling your home and would like some tips on preparing for an incoming inspection, take a look at our Home Inspections for Sellers post.