The importance of a quality home inspection, and questions you should ask.
Congratulations, you found your Adirondack dream home, and successfully negotiated an agreement to purchase. Now it’s time to schedule a home inspection.
Ask your Realtor for suggestions on hiring a professional, certified home inspector. In the Lake Placid/Saranac Lake/Wilmiington area we have several highly qualified inspectors that can be recommended based on particular situations.
Are there concerns with the foundation? There are times when it may be important that the inspector also be a licensed engineer. Will it be difficult to attend the inspection? Having an inspector that will provide a detailed report with tons of photographs may be critical.
Seek guidance from your attorney as well. The attorneys I usually work with will also review inspection reports, and have suggestions for you.
You have the right to learn as much about the house as possible.
Attend the home inspection if at all possible. This is your chance to learn about your house. Take advantage of the opportunity. Your home inspector will be happy to provide as much information as possible.
The report will almost certainly contain information you don’t want to hear. That said, most things found by the inspector are manageable, and can be resolved somewhat easily.
The best time to pick the brain of the inspector is during the inspection itself. Ask lots of questions.
1. How big of a problem is this?
Home inspections typically take 2-3 hours and reports can be 15-50 pages long, depending on the amount of deficiencies discovered. Some issues can be very minor, and some can be significant. Knowing what is a grave concern and what is less worrisome can be hard to decipher. Ask your inspector for clarification.
Your Realtor should help you with handling the issues that need to be addressed. Some items should be repaired by the seller prior to closing, but there will also be times when the seller should provide a monetary concession so that the buyer can make repairs after closing. In our neck of the woods, if there is a roof issue, it usually must wait to be addressed. Buyers may be best served to have the seller escrow enough money to cover the repair in the Spring. Keep in mind though, the report is not a punch list for the seller to make the house perfect.
2. Do I need an expert to look at this?
Your home inspector provides a general overview. There may be times when you need an expert to look deeper. For instance, ask your home inspector if he suggests you have a chimney inspector look at the chimney, or if an electrician should diagnose electrical concerns.
3. Is this problem normal?
One issue we seem to hear a lot about lately is “double taps” in the electrical panel box. For most buyers, this may sound alarming. In fact however, this is a common issue and resolved for the cost of an electricians visit, about $85.00. A good home inspector should be able to communicate those issues that are to be expected, and those that are of unique concern.
4. What items should I be concerned about?
Mold. Unfortunately, many homes have bathrooms that vent into the attic which cause mold to grow. If this is a concern a mold remediation company can provide guidance on remediation and the costs involved.
Serious structural or mechanical issues such as foundation, and roof concerns can be costly. If issues are raised, a contractor can provide estimates on the cost of making repairs.
The home inspection as an opportunity to learn more about your home. Take good advantage of it.
Bob Miller is an Associate Broker with 10 years of real estate experience as well as 15 years of service as a former Lake Placid School Board member, and is currently a 3-time elected Town Councilman in Lake Placid.