A licensed professional home inspector will usually have a construction background, such as contracting, engineering, or architecture. The services that they offer will include crawling in the dreaded crawl space under the house, go up into the attic, and search every nook and cranny that you may not have thought to look.
The inspection usually takes approximately three hours to complete and when the inspector is done, he or she will send you a complete report of any problems that they see exist, or potential problems that are not far from happening. The fee is usually between $300 and $500. Some are charge higher prices and this may depend on the size of the house, etc.
While the inspector is performing the inspection, you are usually welcome to watch and observe the inspector during the inspection. This will also let you see first-hand through the inspector is there are any major concerns, in addition to asking questions of what is occurring. Some inspectors also welcome you to join them in the crawl space.
A highly recommended and thorough inspector will usually be through word-of-mouth, either through your friends and relatives, or through the real estate agent you are working with.
There are some simple things that you can check for when you are walking through the home prior to having it professionally inspected. This can give you questions to ask an inspector if you see any potential problems.
First, look at the structure of the home, such as the wallsâ€”are they bowed or not square? Are there any bumps in the floor? If you notice anything like this write it down to ensure that you ask the professional inspector about this.
Next, check out the gutters and downspouts. How does the water drain? Is it towards the home or away from the home? Are there any obvious signs of water damage? This will be evident in the crawl space if the water is seeping into the basement.
When checking out the roof, does it appear to be in good shape? Is it newer or does it have many layers on it? A roof is expensive to replace and you do not want to move into the home and have to replace the roof soon thereafter.
Other things to look at are the fixtures in the kitchen and bathroom. Do they appear to be in working order? How is the water pressure? Are there water stains underneath the sink?
The finishing work in the home is a good one to look at as well. Is the tile work and moldings in decent shape? Will you have to redo any of the workmanship?
Depending on the age of the home, you will need to be aware of the electrical system. There are certain codes for the electrical panel and circuit breakerâ€”it must be at least 100 amps. Replacing these items can be expensive, ensure that you write down these questions for the inspector.
The remaining things to look at include the furnace, insulation and fireplace. How old is the furnace? Has the system been clean recently? Is it gas or electric? Gas is a lot more efficient and cheaper. Is the insulation up to code? The inspector will be able to tell you specifics on how much is required for your climate. In regard to the fireplace, does it include a screen? Is it gas or wood? Has it been a while since the chimney has been cleaned?
These are all good questions to keep in mind and if you are unable to answer them while going through the home prior to the home inspection, the inspector will be able to answer your questions with recommendations.