10 Questions to Ask Your Home Inspector

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Whether you’re a homeowner or buyer, there are certain questions to ask home inspectors who are accessing a property. These ten might just be the most important.

Always keep in mind that the inspector isn’t just there to identify flaws in a home. They’re also there to provide insight. You should never hesitate to request further information during any process of the inspection. If you’re stuck trying to figure out what to ask, the following questions are a good start.

1. “What credentials do you have?”

The questions to ask a home inspector don’t start on the day of the inspection. One of the most important pieces of information you’ll need should be gathered before ever hiring a professional. Figure out what their credentials are prior to moving forward. This will let you know if they’re qualified for the task.

You should start by asking what training they’ve undergone. Was it a comprehensive program like that provided to WIN Home Inspection partners? Did they take classes online? Were they simply in a related field and decided to make a transition? You’ll want to choose someone with appropriate training and the experience to back it up.

You’ll also need to check if they’re properly insured and licensed to do business in your state. The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecast a 10 percent spike in the home inspection industry between 2016 and 2026, so imitators and underqualified individuals will be trying to get a metaphoric “piece of the pie.”

Make sure you avoid subpar service by asking the questions any home inspector should be happy to answer.

2. “What is covered in the home inspection?”

You’ll also want to ask beforehand what the home inspection covers. There are a variety of assessments that these professionals can conduct, and not all of them will focus on the same things. If you’re only paying for a wood destroying organism (WDO) inspection, for instance, they’re unlikely to check for ventilation problems.

If you’re opting for a full home inspection prior to a home sale, you should expect the following to be investigated:

  • Cracks in walls.
  • Signs of water damage - such as warped walls and sloping floors.
  • Check that smoke alarms are properly functioning.
  • Unpleasant smells which may point to bigger issues.
  • Adequate water pressure.
  • Issues with appliances (e.g. furnace, water heater).
  • Gaps in kitchen and bathroom caulking.
  • Attic inspection.
  • Roof inspection.
  • Check for water infiltration.
  • Various signs of damage or disrepair.
  • Mold inspection.

When it comes to questions to ask a home inspector, this is undoubtedly one of the most important. The overall assessment will certainly include examining additional areas, but if a professional covers these aspects and more, it’s very likely that they know what they’re doing.

3. “What does that mean?”

Your home inspector will point out potential issues as they examine a property. Don’t be afraid to ask them to go into further detail about what something means. If they’re doing a mold inspection and point out rotten boards, for instance, feel free to ask what this means for the house in general.

The follow-up questions you ask an inspector could include “is this a big issue?” or “what does this typically cost to repair?”. These answers can help you make a better decision on the home. Inspectors can’t tell you how much the seller should fix or suggest you not purchase the house, but this information is still vital.

4. “Is this issue major or minor?”

Most people will never make a larger decision in their lives than a home purchase. This means it’s not uncommon for them to get worried over terms like “not up to code,” “foundation issues” and “roof problems." In many instances, though, these issues aren’t as intimidating as they seem.

There aren’t many homes that are perfect, and many share some of the same problems. The important question to ask a home inspector is whether the issue is major or minor. By doing this, you could end up asking the seller to make a $100 repair rather than backing out of the deal of a lifetime.

When it comes down to it, many issues that sound major are actually inexpensive fixes. Of course, there’s always the chance that a specific problem could be major. Either way, asking this question will ensure you know how to move forward.

5. “How well is the home insulated?”

You could purchase a home with bad insulation and go your whole life without ever knowing it. That’s the magic of modern heating and air conditioning systems. Of course, you might also live out your years wondering why your energy bill is so high. Having a well-insulated home is the way to prevent this.

The Energy Department says that the heating and cooling needs of a home can be reduced by 30 percent through good insulation and proper weatherization. This means it can really pay to simply remember this as a question to ask your home inspector.

Additionally, you’ll want to inquire about different areas of the home. Attics, basements and walls are all prime for energy loss, so it’s important to have good insulation in each area. You should also ask – particularly when buying older homes – whether any of this material could potentially contain asbestos.

6. “Can you recommend a professional?”

If you’ve presented all the right questions to your home inspector, you’re likely already sure that you’re working with an expert. Unfortunately, they’re not the ones who will be handling necessary repairs. Even though one of WIN Home Inspection’s Strategic Partners can identify shingling problems, for instance, it’s unlikely that they have their own roofing business.

Luckily, these professionals typically have extensive networks in their local communities. They’ve worked with buyers, sellers, real estate agents and repair companies of all types. When your inspector identifies a problem that definitely needs attention, go ahead and ask if they can recommend anyone in the area.

By doing so, sellers can avoid the headaches of unending online research while buyers rest comfortably knowing their future home is in good hands.

7. “How much longer does the roof have?”

New roofs can be costly expenditures. In fact, roof replacement costs typically range from $5,000 to $14,000. There are a variety of factors that can affect this price, but it doesn’t change the fact that replacing a roof is expensive.

This is why the remaining years of a roof’s life should be one of the main questions you ask a home inspector. After all, a great deal might not seem so great if you end up paying an additional $10,000 three years down the road. Your inspector will look at shingle condition, the eavestrough, gutter accumulation of asphalt granules and more to make their decision.

When asking this question, though, you should keep in mind that all roofs are different. Asphalt shingles often last around 20 years. Copper, tile and slate roofs, however, can surpass the half-century mark. Either way, a sound understanding of the life left in a roof can help you better negotiate a fair price.

8. “Are there any drainage issues?”

Even if you believe you’ve found the perfect home, your fairy tale could come crashing down if there are drainage issues on the property. These problems can result in standing water – which will lead to mosquitoes and other summer pests at your home – and increasing damage over time.

If there are drainage issues, the question to ask your home inspector is just how major the problem is. An inadequate slope, for instance, may be fixed by simply adding native plants or mulch. If it’s the city’s sewer or waterlines causing an issue, however, there may be no solution outside of yelling at a city council meeting.

9. “What do I do with this?”

One of the most common experiences shared by new homeowners is questioning “what on earth do I do with this?” There are only about 9 million American homes, for instance, that have a boiler for heating needs. The Northeast has the overwhelming majority of these. So, what’s a Southerner to do when they see one?

Just go ahead and add it to your list of questions to ask a home inspector. Maybe it’s a basement or HVAC unit rather than a boiler. Regardless, this professional would have encountered the feature before. Don’t be afraid to ask how something works or for additional information on how to maintain something.

10. “What are your major concerns?”

No matter how many questions you ask a home inspector, you should always end the day by inquiring about their major concerns. You’ll receive a written report later, but by knowing the issues that most stood out, you’ll be better equipped to create a plan of action. This means you can get the ball rolling quickly.

If your inspector encountered any serious issues, for instance, you can go ahead and discuss them with the buyer/seller before the report is complete. This also means an expert on the issue can be contacted regarding the issue in a timelier manner.

Know the Questions to Ask a Home Inspector – And Ask Them

The quality of your purchase or sale could depend entirely upon whether you ask your home inspector the right questions. While you’ll have a written report following the inspection, it’s far more beneficial to get the information directly from the source.

Click here to contact a WIN Home Inspection professional today to help ensure you’re making a great deal. You can also reach out by emailing inquiry@wini.com or by calling us directly at (800) 309-6753. We’ll be happy to answer all the questions you would ask home inspectors before making such an important decision.