Purchasing a home can be overwhelming. Often, home buyers rely on experienced real estate agents and home inspectors to help navigate the steps.

Home inspections are performed before nearly every home purchase. However, many people are not familiar with a home’s “nuts and bolts” to know what to expect from the process or what the results may mean. To help avoid confusion before, during and after a home inspection, be prepared to ask the following:

Before the Home Inspection:

Q: How long have you been doing home inspections?

The first step to a successful home inspection is to choose a well-trained, knowledgeable and reliable inspector. A great starting point is to ask your real estate agent, family members or friends for a referrals. Once you choose an inspector, be sure to find out his or her level of experience . Ask about qualifications, certifications, if he or she is licensed (some states do not require this), how long he or she has been inspecting and if it’s a full-time job. Also, ask if the type of home and surrounding area falls within their area of expertise.

Q: What does your inspection cover?

Because every home is different, find out what exactly will be covered during the inspection. The American Society of Home Inspectors outlines a , including interior plumbing, electrical systems, heating and cooling systems, chimneys and the foundation. Other areas of the home don’t fall under this umbrella. Many home inspectors can also provide additional service for an extra fee which can include septic tanks, pest inspection, radon measurement, and pools and can also be determined by the area of the country. Prior to selecting a home inspector, get a clear understanding of what can be expected to ensure every area of interest will be covered.

During the Home Inspection:

Q: How bad is it?

For those unfamiliar with the ins and outs of a home and its systems, a quick and easy fix can sometimes sound like a much bigger issue. Don’t be alarmed at every issue. Because you will be present at the home inspection, ask the inspector to clarify what certain discoveries mean. Remember, anything can be fixed. 

Q: Who should fix that?

Ask the inspector’s opinion on how to address any issues uncovered throughout the inspection. This will provide further insight into how serious the issue may be. Often, an inspector can’t offer you a specific referral but they can help direct you to the right skillset. You will either find out that the problem is an easy DIY fix, or, you have a great starting point to seek repair estimates. Both situations will help better negotiate the purchase price of the home with the seller. 

After the Home Inspection:

Q: Can you tell me what this part of the home inspection report means?

After the inspection is complete, while you are both still on the property, ask the inspector for a quick final walk-through to point out all areas in possible need of attention. This will help you further understand and absorb the inspection report. You would rather learn this way than read it later to realize you don’t know what parts or systems the report refers. Be sure to read the report in its entirety when you receive it and call the inspector to clarify any questions you discover.

 Along the way, ask the inspector to provide quick demonstrations on how to operate any unfamiliar home systems, such as the emergency shutoffs for gas, water and electrical utilities.

 To find a local, experienced home inspector near you, visit WIN Home Inspection.