What to Expect at an Inspection

You’re under contract!! Whether you’re the buyer or seller, it’s a good place to be. Of course, it’s not the best place to be. The best place is in your new home after closing, no contest there. Until then, keep trudging through the process. Next up, is the inspection.

A home inspection is an in-person, detailed, visual assessment of both the inside and outside of a home. In the state of Tennessee, inspections must be performed by a certified home inspector. They usually take place after a house is under contract and before closing. The process is a tad stressful, for both the buyer and seller since both want the house to be in perfect working order. But, in the real world, there is no such thing as a perfect home.

The inspection is a buyer’s last opportunity to discover any hidden and undetected problems, and either use them in negotiations or get out of the deal penalty-free. 

Inspectors look for major problems, especially those that are safety-related. They check for water damage, structural issues, a damaged roof, defects in the electrical, HVAC, and plumbing systems, as well as for insect and pest infestation. An inspector will also note smaller problems, like loose steps and doorknobs. However, cosmetic problems are not the main concern of an inspector.

The buyer usually pays for the inspection, although it can be part of negotiations. Some sellers choose to hire an inspector before they list their home, so they can fix minor problems in advance. Inspections generally cost between $300 – $400 but may cost more or less, depending on house size and location.

An average inspection takes anywhere from two to five hours, depending on home size, number of defects, and the thoroughness of an inspector. Three or four days later, the inspector provides a written report with images, that includes all defects, damage, and safety hazards, as well as the estimated lifespan of things like air conditioners and the roof. 

Sometimes reports contain a surprisingly long list of items that need to be repaired or replaced. Fortunately, many of these are quick, easy fixes. If potentially large problems are found, a buyer should hire the appropriate professional, such as a structural engineer or an electrician to further investigate. 

After the pro gives details about the problem and the cost to repair or replace it, the buyer and agent determine how to go forward. Defects in the structure of a house, or safety issues, such as an incorrectly installed furnace or water heater, are often deal-breakers.

Keep in mind that an inspection is not a pass/fail test. You may wish it was if it results in more decisions to be made. By this point in the home buying journey, many people will be happy to never make another decision again. However, don’t despair–the fun decisions, like which sofa to buy and what color to paint the master bathroom are coming soon.

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