First, let’s look at who your home inspector will likely be. Many, although not all, home inspectors come from a background in the building trades, such as a carpenter or an electrician. Some home inspectors come from other service industries in pursuit of a passion for working with houses- think a retired police officer or someone that’s left military service.
The backgrounds are varied, and each home inspector brings a different experience to the table, but all home inspectors should have a thorough understanding of houses and how their interrelated systems work, which is reinforced by an extensive training and certification program (the training, licensing, and certification requirements will vary by state).
Home inspectors will understand the systems in a house- not just the mechanicals like the heating and cooling, but the electrical and plumbing systems as well. The home inspector is looking for failures in these systems or inadequacies. Your home inspector will understand how houses are built and the different ways that a structure can fail, and how those issues can present themselves. Home inspectors also have an understanding of safety with regards to the systems of a home, and are on the lookout for any number of health hazards that can arise – exhaust gases not venting properly, lack of smoke detectors, potential mold or asbestos, and unsafe configurations, such as a poorly constructed raised deck, to name a few things. Your home inspector may also be able to offer tips on making improvements to the house, such as increasing the energy efficiency of the home after viewing the levels of insulation in the attic.
Now that you understand who the home inspector is, and a bit about what they know, let’s talk about what they can do for you as part of the home inspection process. Home inspectors are thorough and knowledgeable, and communication skills are key. A good home inspector can tune their communication style to your experience and level of understanding of the topic they’re reviewing, and they need to be able to boil down an issue and relay that in laymen’s terms to meet the needs of a range of audiences. A first-time home buyer may need a lot more information from the inspector than the seasoned homeowner. The home inspector should answer your questions to the best of their ability based on their knowledge and experience and should address any outstanding concerns you have about the house, or provide you with suggestions for further resources if they’re not able to provide the answer. Just like your family doctor, the home inspector is a generalist, and they may refer you to a specialist for something that needs further investigation.
Let’s bring it home, so to speak. Your home inspector is a trusted advisor- they work for you, the buyer, not your real estate agent or anyone else, so their opinion should be professionally delivered and non-biased. Your home inspector should provide you with a timely report that details not only the major issues that were found during the inspection process if any but minor things you ran into as well, so you can understand the overall condition of the house and what is needed to bring that house up to snuff. What you decide to do with that information is of course, up to you and your realtor to decide.
Tom Faulhaber 516 Long Beach Rd. St. James, NY 11780 tel: 631-862-0060