Once you find the home you want to call your own, your next step will be getting it inspected—at which point it pays to be prepared with questions to ask your home inspector. We urge you NOT to skip this step!

As dedicated realtors, we do our very best to ensure our buyers get the full story about a home’s pros and cons. But there’s always the risk that some ugly truths are hidden away underneath the beautiful rooms we’re all seeing.

The home inspection helps you know what you’re buying, what concessions you may want to ask the seller, and how much you may need to be prepared to spend down the road, too.

First, what to ask ABOUT the inspector

  • Does the inspector belong to a professional organization like North Carolina Licensed Home Inspector Association or American Society of Home Inspectors?
  • What certifications do they have? For instance, it’s possible to have additional training in decks, asbestos, stucco, mold, lead, new construction, wells, radon, termites, energy audits and more. Look for added expertise if you have any concerns in these areas.
  • How long have they been an inspector? What did they do before becoming a home inspector? Ideally, they’ll have some experience in a related field, or other training or apprenticeships that are relevant.
  • Are they insured? Home inspectors in NC must carry a minimum of $250K in general liability insurance, as well as some level of Errors & Omissions insurance.

Foundation & Drainage

  • If you see cracks that are horizontal or stair-stepped, wider at the top than the bottom, or simply an abundance of small cracks, be sure to ask your inspector to weigh in.
  • The same applies if you’ve noticed uneven or sagging floors or ceilings, or cracks (or signs of recently repaired cracks) near doors and windows—try laying a level on nearby windowsills; if it’s off-level, ask your inspector for an opinion on the possible cause.
  • Checking the exterior and crawl space during, or just after, wet weather can make any water issues easier to spot, but even in dry weather residual signs can reveal excessive moisture. Among the questions to ask your home inspector is if there’s any sign of bad grading, missing or poorly directed downspouts, or pooling water.

Electrical, HVAC & Plumbing Systems

  • Are the systems up to code? Any damaged areas, or signs that problems may linger on?
  • Do the water systems all work properly, with appropriate pressure, temperature? No noise issues or leaks? Are the areas around tubs or shower pans or doors sealed well?
  • Are the pipes PVC, or galvanized steel? The latter can rust (reducing water pressure) or rupture. If this is an older home, ask if there’s any sign of lead piping, too.
  • Checking electrical panels and outlets, are there any signs of wiring issues, nests of pests (bees, mice, etc) or fire damage? Are GFI outlets installed near sinks and other water?
  • Has the HVAC been maintained or serviced, and/or is there any indication of its age? Is the thermostat responding quickly and noiselessly?

Home Insulation & Ventilation

  • Insulation is key to minimizing the cost of heating and cooling. Ask your home inspector if the insulation’s R-value is 60 or better. (R-value is the rating used to measure how resistant to heat flow your insulation is.)
  • It’s also a good idea to find out what type of insulation was used and if there are any health risks to be concerned about, especially in an older home.
  • Confirm that the ventilation in both attic and basement are sufficient and doing the job well—preventing mold and mildew issues.

Finally, questions to ask your home inspector about the roof condition

Getting a good evaluation of the roof from close up is among the major benefits of an inspection. And since roofs are a costly repair project, it’s important to get as much detail as you can from the home inspector. So, check in:

  • What type of roof is it? (Read last week’s post for more roof considerations, check out last week’s post.)
  • From shingles to gutters and eaves, what level of wear and tear is visible? Are the surfaces of the shingles shedding asphalt into the gutters?
  • Are the seals and flashing still firm and true?

Perhaps even more important than knowing what questions to ask your home inspector is actually joining them for the inspection. Ask your inspector to elaborate on what he or she sees. This will give you an invaluable introduction to your new home’s ins and outs!

We hope you’ll give us a call when you’re ready to find your next home in the Triangle, NC.

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