Important Questions to Ask Your Home Inspector

Your offer on a home has been accepted – congratulations! While this is a very exciting time, the work is still not done. If you’ve included a home inspection contingency in your offer (which you should), there is still the inspection to take place, among other things.

Of course, you’re going to need a home inspector to conduct the inspection for you. But you may want to consider being present during the inspection. It’s usually recommended that buyers walk around the home with the inspector so that all pertinent information can be explained on the spot.

While your inspector will provide you with a detailed report a day or two after the inspection has been completed, having your pressing questions answered on the spot can be really helpful.

During the home inspection, you may want to consider asking the following questions.

How is the HVAC System?

The heating and air conditioning system of the home is an important component that will determine how comfortable the interior temperature will be for you and your family. During those hot, sweltering days, for instance, you’ll want to make sure that the A/C is in good operating order to ensure the inside air remains cool.

Ask the inspector how old the units are, whether they appear to have been properly maintained on a regular basis, and whether they may need to be repaired or replaced any time soon.

What is the Insulation Like?

Air conditioners and furnaces are obviously important to keep the inside air comfortable, but if the home is not well insulated, all that energy and money spent cooling or even heating your home will be a waste.

Find out what the “R-value” of the insulation is, which represents how well the insulating material is able to resist heat flow. The higher the number, the better. The attic insulation, for instance, should have at least a 60 R-Value.

You’ll also want to know the type of insulation material being used and how well the home is ventilated. Inadequate insulation will not only allow cooled or heated indoor air to escape but it will also be more susceptible to mold growth.

What Condition is the Roof in?

Replacing a roof can cost thousands of dollars, depending on the type of the roof material and its surface area. Unless it was obvious during your initial viewing that the roof is in bad shape and will need to be replaced – and you’ve factored such a cost into the purchase price – you’ll want to know the condition of this important component.

While you’re at it, find out what the condition of the eavestroughs and downspouts are, as these will dictate how well rainwater drains from the home. In addition, ask about the underlying components of the roof structure.

As already mentioned, a roof replacement is not a cheap endeavor, so finding out whether you’ll be footing the bill for a replacement any time soon is something you’ll want to know up front.

What is the Slope of the Surrounding Grade?

Not only are eavestroughs responsible for ensuring that rainwater drains away from the perimeter of the home, so is the grading of the lot. If the slope is not adequate enough, water could pool around the perimeter of the home and make its way into the foundation. That will cause a great deal of water damage in your home, including mold growth and a compromising of the strength of the structure.

What is the Electrical and Plumbing Situation Like?

Homes with faulty wiring can be a fire hazard, so you’ll want to make sure that the inspector has had a good look at the electrical wiring. If there’s shoddy work or very old wiring, that could be an expensive problem for you. Not only that, but you might even find it tough to get an insurance company to provide you with coverage for a home with inadequate electrical wiring.

As far as plumbing is concerned, you’ll want to ask the inspector about any leaks, slow draining sinks, and weak water pressure. The inspector should be turning all faucets and showerheads on and off, and flush all toilets to verify their condition. Ask about the presence of any galvanized-steel or lead piping, since they’re susceptible to rusting and wearing down over time.

Further, the inspector should also be looking for any signs of water stains on the floor, ceiling, or walls, as this can point to a potential leak somewhere.

Is the Foundation Sound?

If there’s one thing that you want to make sure is strong and in good shape, it’s the home’s structure. A home that’s not structurally sound can cause extremely expensive problems for you, not to mention potential safety hazards.

Ask your home inspector if the home’s foundation is solid. Find out if there are any cracks in the foundation, and if there are, ask how large they are. While tiny hairline cracks are usually nothing to be worried about, larger cracks – especially those that are uneven and not flush with each other – are something that should be looked into further by a structural engineer.

Are There Any Signs of Termites?

Termites might be small, but they can definitely cause an immense amount of damage to a home. Your inspector should be able to notice signs of termite infestation, such as chewing on wood, hollowed wood beams, or even rodent droppings. If an infestation is suspected, repair could be extremely expensive. Plus, the home could be a site of hazard for you and your family if steps aren’t taken to rectify the situation.

The Bottom Line

Even though your inspector will let you know about any issues that might creep up during the inspection, it’s always best to be present during this appointment and ask the right questions at the right time. Doing so will keep you informed and will give you a better idea of the overall condition of the home and whether or not further negotiations are warranted.