When the journey of purchasing a new home is full of excitement, but it can also be full of overwhelming and apprehensive feelings. This is why I encourage all buyers to walk with me the entire inspection and dig through the home’s systems together. When I meet with buyers at their inspection, I can see these feelings are in full force. I love puting their minds at ease in sharing that all things about a house are fixable. It’s more about how much you’re willing to spend and how much you’re willing to maintain. For many this is a welcomed insight.
But knowing what questions to ask when determining if this is the right house is critical. That’s why I’m sharing the best questions to ask your inspector at the inspection. And if you’re about to hire an inspector, don’t make your calls without my Before You Hire a Home Inspector Worksheet. It will save you from hiring the wrong inspector and getting a top notch inspection and report.
QUESTIONS ABOUT THE EXTERIOR
Grading: Ask if the grading on the house is negative. You want positive grading around your home to ensure water is flowing away from the house at all times. Ask your inspector how to prevent negative grading in the future on your particular house.
Foundation: Ask if the foundation has any cracking. You’ll want to ask if it is horizontal cracking, vertical cracking or step cracks. Ask your inspector to discuss the severity and prevention of more severe cracking in the future
Foundation: Ask if the foundation has evidence of high moisture. Most inspectors use a moisture meter to detect if the moisture levels of any foundation block or foundation concrete. Be sure to ask if the inspector can detect any reason the foundation may have high moisture and if there could be future problems.
Foundation: Ask if there is any evidence of previous repairs or previous mudjacking. This can indicate any water or drainage issues with the home that could be potential problems.
Siding & Trim: Ask your inspector about any maintenance that might be needed on your siding and trim in the future.
Siding & Trim: Ask about what to watch for in terms of moisture getting behind siding and how to prevent it if this is a potential problem.
Roof: Ask your inspector their estimation on the age of the roof as well as the life expectancy of the roof.
Roof: Ask your inspector about gutters. Get their opinion if the gutters on the home are adequate or if they should be modified or added.
Driveway: Ask if your driveway will need continued maintenance, and if so, how often. Some concrete will need repairs and asphalt generally needs to be resealed.
Driveway: Ask about settling, especially next to the garage door and garage apron. Significant settling can mean quite a bit of maintenance in future years.
Garage: Ask if it has the proper firewall installed and if there are any breaks in the firewall. This is usually considered a safety issue if not installed or if damaged.
Garage: Ask if the overhead door has sensors and an automatic reverse feature. These are safety points that most inspectors will check and fill you in on.
Garage: Ask your inspector about his or her opinion on the garage apron. This area on a home can be quite problematic as shifting and settling occur. Get your inspectors opinion on future maintenance.
Garage: Ask about the condition of the torsion springs and garage roller track. Get an idea on future maintenance.
QUESTIONS ABOUT THE INTERIOR
Walls & Ceilings: Ask about any cracks you notice in the ceilings or walls. Pay special attention to cracks around doors and windows. Verify that these cracks are merely cosmetic in nature.
Walls & Ceilings: Ask your inspector about the use of lead paint if you are purchasing a home older than 1978. Be sure to ask your inspector about how lead paint can affect any future renovations.
Flooring: Ask your inspector if there’s any asbestos tiles throughout the home and how you should remove them.
Flooring: If you’re purchasing an older home and you’re hoping for a particular flooring, ask your inspector their opinion on if the flooring has been covered up, how strong the subfloor is and if any support will need to be added.
Windows & Doors: Ask your inspector if there is any evidence of window seals being broken and if so ask if they have an estimate on cost replacement.
Windows & Doors: Ask if there is any evidence of condensation or sweating issues with the windows and ask if there is a tip for reducing this in your particular home.
Windows & Doors: Ask if any doors are out of alignment or if they will not open and close properly. Also ask if this is due to poor installation, major settling or indoor climate changes.
Plumbing: Ask if the inspector notices any lead piping or evidence of lead solder in the pipes. It’s okay to ask if your inspector takes a water sample as well to verify there’s no lead in the water.
Plumbing: As your inspector if they come across any evidence of previous leaks from plumbing supply lines or pipes.
Plumbing: Ask if there is any corrosion on supply lines and what the time frame is on replacement of corroded valves.
Electrical: Ask your inspector what the capacity of the electrical service is and if it is sufficient for modern electronic use.
Electrical: Ask if the electrical lines are aluminum or copper. Some insurance companies require a home’s electrical lines be changed over to copper in order to be insured.
Electrical: If you’re purchasing an older home, verify there is no knob and tube wiring in places like attics and that the home does in fact have circuits and not breakers.
Electrical: Verify there are carbon monoxide detectors on every level as well as smoke detectors on every level and in bedrooms. Also verify they will all be left with the property. (Some carbon monoxide detectors are plug into walls and can be taken with by the seller).
HVAC: Ask about the age of the furnace or boiler and be sure to ask about maintenance to prolong the life.
HVAC: Ask of there is adequate venting to the entire house, especially in the basement and crawl space (if there is one).
Attic: Ask your inspector about the insulation in the attic and if it’s sufficient for a home of your size. Verify that the insulation does not contain asbestos.
Attic: Ask what type of venting your attic as as well as ask if that is adequate for the size and layout of your attic.
Attic: Verify that there is no mold on sheathing, trusses or insulation within the attic space.
Basement/Crawl Space: Ask your inspector if there are any signs of water damage or potential moisture intrusion in the basement. Ask details on how to prevent this.
Basement/Crawl Space: Verify there is no evidence of mold anywhere in the basement or crawl space.
Pests/Rodents: Ask your inspector if there is any evidence of termites or wood-boring insects, either past or present. If there has been termites, be sure to ask cost for repairs and removing.
Pests/Rodents: Ask if there’s any evidence of rodents (especially in attics or basements) that would indicate a problem. Also ask your inspector about prevention of this problem in the future.
QUESTIONS ABOUT ISSUES THAT ARISE
QUESTIONS ABOUT SYSTEMS
One of the great perks of having a home inspection is that you are basically getting a 101 lesson on your new home. An inspector should be able to tell you how to take care of your house and how to prevent issues. The key is asking questions about the systems you’re unsure about. If you’re a first time homeowner, you may have more questions than someone downsizing from a single family home to a townhome. Inspectors generally love giving information and answering questions about a house, so never feel as if you’re bothering your inspector or feel silly about the question you’re asking.
Three great questions to ask about systems that seem foreign to you are: