Important Questions to Ask a Home Inspector Before You Hire Them, and After

If you plan to buy a house, getting a home inspector to look it over is an important step to take. They are able to alert you to anything that might be wrong. However, getting a home inspection done isn't just about calling the most affordable home inspector available, leaving everything to them, and looking over their report once they hand it to you. It's important to ask questions before you hire an inspector to make sure you get the best one; and to ask questions during and after the inspection process, as well, to make sure that you get the best results.

Questions to ask before hiring a home inspector

  • Depending on the kind of home they inspect, inspectors can look at more than 1,500 different home attributes. It's important to ask each inspector you consider, how many attributes they plan to check in the home you have in mind.
  • Ask what specialty areas of the home an inspector won't be checking: roof, HVAC, plumbing, and so on.
  • Ask if you can tag along during the inspection. This way, you'll be able to ask questions about any fault that comes up as soon as the inspector discovers them.
  • Ask how long they expect the inspection to take. If they quote a duration that seems too much longer or shorter than the other inspectors that you talk to, it's your warning that the inspector doesn't know what they're talking about.
  • Ask to see a sample home inspection report they've prepared in the past, to make sure they offer the kind of detail you're looking for.
  • Ask if you can call them for quick explanations once the report arrives. These reports can be complicated and having an expert to turn to for explanations could be helpful.

Questions to ask as you tag along during the inspection

  • When the inspector comes upon an issue during the inspection, make sure to stop them and ask them what the implications are. For example, if they find a rotten baseboard, you could ask them if it means that the problem could be widespread.
  • For each problem discovered, ask how important it would be to get it fixed.
  • Make a note of any problems that you notice on your own, and talk to the inspector about them once the inspection is done.
  • Try to make casual conversation about any home maintenance or purchase tips the inspector may have.
  • Ask if it would be a good idea to get a separate inspection by a specialist inspector for the plumbing or electrical systems, for steep, dangerous parts of the roof, for the foundation, soil, swimming pool, septic systems, and so on. Your inspector might not be able to go deep into these areas.

Finally, you want to make sure that while you do ask the right questions during the inspection, you are as quiet and unobtrusive during the process as possible, to make sure that the inspector is able to focus on the job at hand.

What to ask once you get the report

Once the inspection concludes and you get the report, you want to talk to the inspector about anything you don't understand, and ask if you should arrange for them to visit again for an inspection once the seller completes the repairs that the report recommends. Arranging for such a re-inspection would be a good idea, to make sure that no important repairs are overlooked by the seller.

Sometimes, buyers make up their minds to complete a few important repairs themselves once they move in, but forget entirely. A re-inspection visit after the seller completes the required repairs, and another one after you move in and complete your share of the work, could be a good idea. It would make sense to talk to the home inspector about the necessity of such additional visits.

It's also important to keep in mind that even the best home inspections cannot catch everything: faucets that leak intermittently, washing machines and dishwashers that leak during certain parts of the cycle, cracks in concealed drainpipes, air conditioning systems in the winter, and so on. It's a good idea, even once you do get a clean bill of health from the home inspector, to be prepared for problems in these areas, especially if it's an old house.

With these ideas in mind, you should be in a better position to head into the home inspection process, understand what's going on, and make the best possible use of it.