Plan for the inspection

You should be part of the process

Most home inspections take 2 to 4 hours. Ideally, you would walk through with the inspector, but this may not be possible with COVID-19 restrictions. Ask if the inspector can bring you along virtually on a video call, or walk you through a recording afterward. If you can safely attend in person, wear sturdy, close-toed shoes in case you need to navigate a muddy yard or damp basement. And don’t bring kids or pets; you’ll avoid distractions and potential accidents.

Get your money’s worth

Use the time to listen, ask, and learn

Look carefully throughout the home. Pay attention when the inspector points out key components, like the electrical breaker panel, the furnace emergency switch, and the water main shutoff. Seeing how they work now could save you headaches later on. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Your inspector should know local building codes and will tell you when something they see could be an issue or is dangerous.

Be vigilant

Listen for clues that you’re better off bailing

Your inspector is there to discover and document, they can’t tell you whether or not to buy the home. To read between the lines, listen for telltale words and phrases like “major,” “significant,” “immediate repair,” “get estimates,” and “needs to be fixed now.” If you really want your inspector’s opinion on whether to steer clear, you could ask if it would be a deal-breaker for them or a family member.

Sometimes there are $$$ surprises

Foundation, asbestos, or pest issues may mean specialists and extra tests

As generalists, home inspectors can spot potential concerns when it comes to pest infestations, radon, asbestos, water quality, and signs of mold. But if these issues do come up, they’ll probably recommend that you hire a specialist to diagnose things more thoroughly. Other common issues, like foundation cracks, require a structural engineer or an architect, and all septic systems should be inspected by a dedicated septic testing company.