What to Expect During a Home Inspection

From finding an inspector to dealing with surprises — this is your guide to getting a house checked out.

Image result for pictures of home inspections

The first thing you need to know about home inspection: You’ll feel all the feels.

There’s the excitement — the inspection could be the longest time you’re in the house, after the showing.

Right behind that comes … anxiety. What if the inspector finds something wrong? So wrong you can’t buy the house?

Then there’s impatience. Seriously, is this whole home-buying process over yet?

Not yet. But you’re close. So take a deep breath. Because the most important thing to know about home inspection: It’s just too good for you, as a buyer, to skip. Here’s why.

A Home Inspector Is Your Protector

An inspector helps you make sure a house isn’t hiding anything before you commit for the long haul. (Think about it this way: You wouldn’t even get coffee with a stranger without checking out their history.)

A home inspector identifies any reasonably discoverable problems with the house (a leaky roof, faulty plumbing, etc.). Hiring an inspector is you doing your due diligence. To find a good one (more on how to do that soon), it helps to have an understanding of what the typical home inspection entails.

An inspection is all about lists.  

Before an inspection, the home inspector will review the seller’s property disclosure statement. (Each state has its own requirements for what sellers must disclose on these forms; some have stronger requirements than others.) The statement lists any flaws the seller is aware of that could negatively affect the home’s value.

The disclosure comes in the form of an outline, covering such things as:

  • Mold
  • Pest infestation
  • Roof leaks
  • Foundation damage
  • Other problems, depending on what your state mandates.

During the inspection, an inspector has three tasks: To:

  1. Identify problems with the house
  2. Suggest fixes
  3. Estimate how much repairs might cost

He or she produces a written report, usually including photos, that details any issues with the property. This report is critical to you and your agent — it’s what you’ll use to request repairs from the seller. (We’ll get into how you’ll do that in a minute, too.)

The Inspector Won’t Check Everything

Generally, inspectors only examine houses for problems that can be seen with the naked eye. They won’t be tearing down walls or using magical X-ray vision, to find hidden faults.

Inspectors also won’t put themselves in danger. If a roof is too high or steep, for example, they won’t climb up to check for missing or damaged shingles. They’ll use binoculars to examine it instead.

They can’t predict the future, either. While an inspector can give you a rough idea of how many more years that roof will hold up, he or she can’t tell you exactly when it will need to be replaced.

Finally, home inspectors are often generalists. A basic inspection doesn’t routinely include a thorough evaluation of:

  • Swimming pools
  • Wells
  • Septic systems
  • Structural engineering work
  • The ground beneath a home
  • Fireplaces and chimneys

When it comes to wood-burning fireplaces, for instance, most inspectors will open and close dampers to make sure they’re working, check chimneys for obstructions like birds’ nests, and note if they believe there’s reason to pursue a more thorough safety inspection.

If you’re concerned about the safety of a fireplace, you can hire a certified chimney inspector for about $125 to $325 per chimney; find one through the Chimney Safety Institute of America.

Explore More Topics:

Make an Offer & Negotiate

Buy a Home: Step-by-Step

It’s Your Job to Check the Inspector

Now you’re ready to connect with someone who’s a pro at doing all of the above. Here’s where — once again — your real estate agent has your back. He or she can recommend reputable home inspectors to you.

In addition to getting recommendations (friends and relatives are handy for those, too), you can rely on online resources such as the American Society of Home Inspectors’ (ASHI) Find a Home Inspector tool, which lets you search by address, metro area, or neighborhood.

You’ll want to interview at least three inspectors before deciding whom to hire. During each chat, ask questions such as:

  • Are you licensed or certified? Inspector certifications vary, based on where you live. Not every state requires home inspectors to be licensed, and licenses can indicate different degrees of expertise. ASHI lists each state’s requirements here.
  • How long have you been in the business? Look for someone with at least five years of experience — it indicates more homes inspected.
  • How much do you charge? The average home inspection costs about $315. For condos and homes under 1,000 square feet, the average cost is $200. Homes over 2,000 square feet can run $400 or more. (Figures are according to HomeAdvisor.com.)
  • What do you check, exactly? Know what you’re getting for your money.
  • What don’t you check, specifically? Some home inspectors are more thorough than others.
  • How soon after the inspection will I receive my report? Home inspection contingencies require you to complete the inspection within a certain period of time after the offer is accepted — normally five to seven days — so you’re on a set timetable. A good home inspector will provide you with the report within 24 hours after the inspection.
  • May I see a sample report? This will help you gauge how detailed the inspector is and how he or she explains problems.

Sometimes you can find {{ start_tip 84 }}online reviews{{ end_tip}} of inspectors on sites like Angie’s List and Yelp, too, if past clients’ feedback is helpful in making your decision.

Show Up for Inspection (and Bring Your Agent)

It’s inspection day, and the honor of your — and your agent’s — presence is not required, but highly recommended. Even though you’ll receive a report summarizing the findings later on, being there gives you a chance to ask questions, and to learn the inner workings of the home.

Block out two to three hours for the inspection. The inspector will survey the property from top to bottom. This includes checking water pressure; leaks in the attic, plumbing, etc.; if door and window frames are straight (if not, it could be a sign of a structural issue); if electrical wiring is up to code; if smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working; if appliances work properly. Outside, he or she will look at things like siding, fencing, and Water: A Home’s #1 EnemyBesides drainage, ask the inspector about any signs of water damage. Water can destroy the integrity of the home’s structure. So a leaky gutter isn’t just annoying; it’s compromising your foundation.drainage.

The inspector might also be able to check for termites, asbestos, lead paint, or radon. Because these tests involve more legwork and can require special certification, they come at an additional charge.

Get Ready to Negotiate

Once you receive the inspector’s report, review it with your agent.

Legally, sellers are required to make certain repairs. These can vary depending on location. Most sales contracts require the seller to fix:

  • Structural defects
  • Building code violations
  • Safety issues

Most home repairs, however, are negotiable. Be prepared to pick your battles: Minor issues, like a cracked switchplate or loose kitchen faucet, are easy and cheap to fix on your own. You don’t want to start nickel-and-diming the seller.

If there are major issues with the house, your agent can submit a formal request for repairs that includes a copy of the inspection report. Repair requests should be as specific as possible. For instance: Instead of saying “repair broken windows,” a request should say “replace broken window glass in master bathroom.”

  • If the seller agrees to make all of your repair requests: He or she must provide you with invoices from a licensed contractor stating that the repairs were made. Then it’s full steam ahead toward the sale.
  • If the seller responds to your repair requests with a counteroffer: He or she will state which repairs (or credits at closing) he or she is willing to make. The ball is in your court to either agree, counter the seller’s counteroffer, or void the transaction.

At the end of the day, remember to check in with yourself to see how you’re feeling about all of this. You need to be realistic about how much repair work you’d be taking on. At this point in the sale, there’s a lot of pressure from all parties to move into the close. But if you don’t feel comfortable, speak up.

The most important things to remember during the home inspection? Trust your inspector, trust your gut, and lean on your agent — they likely have a lot of experience to support your decision-making.

That’s something to feel good about.




9 Surprising Things You Should Never Leave in the Bathroom


Just because you spend a lot of time in your bathroom—showering, shaving, putting on makeup, or even catching up on a good book—it doesn’t mean you need to store all your belongings in there.
Not only will that clutter a small space, but it can quicken the demise of certain possessions (best-case scenario) and potentially even mess with your health (worst case scenario).
Here are the unexpected items you need to move out of your bathroom, post haste.

1. Medicine

Let’s start with the category you know you should secure away, but probably store in your bathroom cabinets anyway: medications.

While it’s convenient to stash them above your sink, “it’s actually the last place you want to keep them,” says Morgan Statt, a health and safety investigator at ConsumerSafety.org. “High heat and humidity from showers and baths can mess with their effectiveness.” And let’s not even talk about keeping them away from the prying eyes of visitors or the grabby hands of kids.

You’re better off storing any Rx you use in a bedroom nightstand. Temps will be cooler there and, unless you live with SpongeBob, it should be free of moisture. If you have kids around, you may want to keep them in a small lockbox or other secure location. If you’ve been faithfully keeping prescription or OTC meds in your bathroom and notice their texture, smell or appearance has changed, don’t continue to use them—they could make you sick. Contact your doctor instead.

2. Extra razors

Buying razor blades in bulk isn’t a bad idea. Just don’t store the extras in your bathroom. “Shower steam and the build-up of humidity can rust or dull the blades before you even get the chance to use them,” Statt says.

Can’t come up with a better place to store them? At the very least, put them in a tightly sealed plastic bag to try to keep out the moisture.

3. Makeup and makeup brushes

The best lighting to put on your makeup may be in your bathroom, but you really shouldn’t stash your products—or even your brushes—in there.

Thank the usual culprits: Higher temps. Steam. Humidity. All of these “encourage mold growth and make your products expire faster,” Statt says. “Not to mention your makeup brushes will be picking up germs that you then apply right to your face.” Gross.

4. Your toothbrush

OK, this one might be a shocker: “If you store your toothbrush in a holder on your sink, you can put it at risk for bacteria growth,” Statt says.

(Now’s a good time to also mention the aerosol effect of flushing toilets.)

“If you flush the toilet with the lid up, it causes germs and bacteria from the waste to spray throughout the air and right towards your toothbrush,” Statt explains. “Toothbrushes stored in a holder on the sink are also in the direct line of fire for germs that come from people washing their hands.”

Although it’s inconvenient (and maybe a little strange), consider storing your toothbrush in an open, dry space in your bedroom, like the corner of your dresser. Or just make a habit of putting the toilet seat down before you flush. On second thought, do that no matter what.

5. Paintings and antique painted wooden objects

Of course you want to decorate your bathroom. You spend a lot of time in there, so why not?

Still, “American folk art and painted furniture, such as your New England chest of drawers, Japanned mirror, or your Hitchcock side chair from the 18th and 19th centuries, are perfect examples of items that should not be stored in your bathroom,” says Kelly Juhasz, an accredited member of the International Society of Appraisers based in Chicago.

The No. 1 sign you’ve already got a problem? Cracking paint.

Fluctuations in humidity cause wood to expand or shrink, stressing the paint on such objects, which doesn’t have that plasticity. Instead, “it breaks and blisters, which causes the painted areas to crack, and the paint to lift off,” Juhasz says.

The only way it’s (mostly) OK to display this type of art in your bathroom? If your bathroom’s so large that mirrors don’t fog up when you shower.

Still, that’s no guarantee that humidity won’t affect your stuff. “It will just take longer for the effects to show,” Juhasz says.

6. Photos

Even under glass, photographs and limited-edition prints can get seriously compromised in a steamy bathroom. Humidity gets trapped between the photo and the glass, causing mold to grow, Juhasz explains. The result is brown spots on the paper (called “foxing”) or haziness on the underside of the glass. The paper can also start to cockle, which appears as ripples across the artwork.

If humidity builds up on the outside of the glass, you may also see water droplets dripping between the frame and glass—resulting in water stains and damage. Not how you want to treat your priceless family photos.

A safer way to decorate: Choose objects made of stone, ceramics, and glass.

“These are some of the most durable forms of art, and decorative objects not easily affected by humidity,” notes Juhasz.

7. Jewelry

The bathroom ain’t the place to store your favorite bangles. Honest.

“Unless your jewelry is pure gold, objects composed of various metals will react faster in humidity,” Juhasz says. That causes corrosion on less valuable objects, while silver-based objects tarnish. Plus, you run the risk of dropping your favorite pieces down the sink drain.

8. Books

No to your copy of “A Higher Loyalty.” And no, no, NO! to your copy of Shakespeare’s first folio.

“Humidity will cause paper to cockle, swell, and stick together,” Juhasz warns. It will also cause mold to start growing. Talk about reading the dirt!

9. Damp towels, mats, and laundry

Clean towels in the bathroom? Yes, please. Damp towels or dirty laundry on the bathroom floor? Please, no.

“They can trap in moisture and lead to a mold problem,” says Peter Duncanson, resident restoration expert for ServiceMaster Restore.

You should also pick up your bathmats after each use and put them somewhere to dry. Don’t forget to wash them regularly and dry them completely before returning them.

“This reduces a mold growth source, or potential damage to flooring from moisture,” Duncanson says.

To keep all your belongings as fresh as possible, do your best to keep your bathroom well-ventilated, Duncanson advises. Run the exhaust fan for at least 30 minutes after showering, to ensure the space has ample time to dry out.

If you don’t have a fan, open some windows or doors on opposite sides of your home to create cross-ventilation.

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Here are 8 clever ways to store books around the house.

Which one is your favorite?

Guest post by  Michelle Lee, Houzz

Although reading books can seem like a long lost art in the days of digital devices, there still remains something special about the smell of a brand new novel and being able to flip through physical pages. For dedicated bookworms with cherished collections, it can be a struggle to store and display your favorites without a dedicated home library. Follow along for eight ways to stylishly integrate books into any room in the house.

In the Kitchen

This is not just limited to cookbooks. Any books you’ll want to read over a good meal or while waiting for the oven to preheat are just as applicable. There are many ways to add a homey vibe to your space by installing open shelves beneath a kitchen island or along a blank unused wall. Just make sure to keep the books away from appliances so the pages and binding don’t get damaged by heat.


In the Bedroom

As we venture further into fall and winter, many bookworms will want to curl up under the covers with a hot cup of cocoa and a new novel. Keep your reading list at arm’s reach by storing books along a windowsill or stack them up in a corner of the room. For a more permanent solution, buy a new headboard or nightstand with built-in storage.


In an Unused Fireplace

Fireplaces make a lovely focal point in many living rooms, but can be a hassle to maintain and use. You can breathe new life into this space by cleaning it thoroughly and stacking books in the empty space. The different bindings will create visual interest and bring color to the previously black abyss.


In the Bathroom

One of life’s luxuries is being able to read a good book in a relaxing bubble bath at the end of a long day. This can be done by building recessed shelves above a freestanding tub. For renters, there are plenty of budget-friendly over-the-toilet storage cabinets that accomplish the same purpose. Be sure to take proper precautions against warped pages caused by moisture with an exhaust fan.


Above a Desk

In many home offices, the space above the desk goes largely unused. Simply look up for more space. You can create a home for a decently sized collection of books by installing open shelves above your computer all the way up to the ceiling. The transitional Philadelphia space shown here illustrates the idea nicely.


Under the Stairs

If you still haven’t found the right fit for what to put in that little nook under the stairs, look no further. Bring in an asymmetrical or diagonal bookcase to house your collection or carve out an alcove to recreate a Harry Potter vibe. Bring in a comfy chair or cushions and you’ve got the perfect personal hideout space for the season.


Around an Entryway

This one requires the expertise of a skilled woodworker or architect. Frame any doorway in your home with a gorgeous collection of novels that surround it left, right and above. Add a rolling library ladder to reach the highest shelves and bring rustic charm and character to any space, as seen here.


In Your Front Yard

If you’re really unable to squeeze any more space out of your home to store books inside, consider moving outdoors for a unique solution. The Little Free Library is a nonprofit organization that seeks to bring communities together and share books with one another through a house-shaped box in their front yard. Fill it with a few of your favorites that you’re willing to share and encourage your neighbors to take one, leave one of their own or both. Although this is not quite a storage solution, it’s a great way to connect with your community and discover new reading material.

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