Friday, March 13, 2015

What to Expect When We're Inspecting

You found a great house, put in an offer, got it accepted (no mean feat in today's market) and scheduled an inspection. Now what?

This post is going to cover most of what will happen from the time you call me to the time you show up at the inspection walk-through.

Step One: While we were on the phone, I suggested some dates and times for the inspection. What I need to determine is the best time for you to get to the house to check it out with me. Once I have that, I can figure out what time I need to get there to do my thing (see below) so I will be ready for you when you get there. You are always welcome to come early, but it can be boring watching me open windows and crawl around in the attic.

Step Two: As soon as our phone conversation ended (or even during the conversation) I was looking up the details of your house. I'm looking for details that will help me know what kind of issues might be present, like: the age of the house, the foundation type, the construction type (EIFS stucco requires some specialty tools that I don't keep in the truck), utilities (is there gas? is there a septic tank) and the square footage so I can estimate how long the inspection will take. I'll also check out the seller's disclosure if it's available to see if there are any known issues I should check out.

Step Three: I will set up the inspection and figure out how to access the house. Most of the time this will be through a showing service, but occasionally I will deal directly with the listing agent or seller. Either way, I will get the access I need and you (and your agent) won't need to do anything special.

Step Four: I will show up at the house at the inspection time (or a little before in most cases). Once there, I will open the house, turn on the heat or AC (depending on the time of year) and start looking around the outside. This will involve inspecting the slab, walls, roof, grade, porches, decks, pools, septic tank, etc. I will also perform a water meter test to check for possible leaks in the slab or supply plumbing.

Step Five: Now I'll get started on the inside. First step is usually to turn on the dishwasher, as they take a while to complete a cycle. While I'm in the kitchen I'll set the oven to 350 so it can start warming up. Then I'll start checking vents. The AC (or heat) should have had plenty of time to start working, so I will check the air flow and temperature at all of the vents. Then its back to the kitchen to check appliances and the range hood. Once I'm done in the kitchen I will find the water heater and the furnace. If either of them are in the attic I will check the rest of the attic for insulation issues or problems with the roof structure. The water heater will usually be in the garage, so I'll go ahead and check the garage door opener while I'm in there. Then I will go room to room checking windows, outlets, floors, walls, ceilings, plumbing fixtures, etc.

Step Six: Finally its time for the above and beyond stuff. If I saw anything I didn't like related to the foundation, I'll get out the ZipLevel foundation evaluator and start checking the floor in different areas to see if there are any slopes, high spots or low spots. Then I'll fire up the Infrared Camera and walk through the house again, focusing on hidden plumbing leaks, missing insulation or electrical issues. Then I'll check the sprinkler system if there is one (and we don't expect freezing weather).

Step Seven: You probably arrived during step six. If not, I'll spend a couple of minutes putting my notes together and put most of my tools away. Once you arrive, I should be ready to walk around with you, showing you the issues I found and explaining their severity (or lack there of).Remember, this isn't a pass/fail type of inspection. I am working for you (within the confines of the Texas Standards of Practice) to give you the best information I can on the current state of the house. I will tell you if I think something is unsafe or might hinder the re-saleability of the house, but at the end of the day, I want you to know what you need to know before investing in your new home. At this point I will answer any questions you may have, we can measure the refrigerator space, I can talk football with your in-laws and we will close the house up.

Step Eight: You will pay me (or we will make whatever arrangements need to be made) and I will head to the office to put your report together. I'll have photos of the issues we discussed, information about the HVAC system and appliances and, in some cases, recommendations for things that other contractors might need to investigate or quote. Then I'll email the report to you (and your agent).

Step Nine: Yes, there is a step nine. This step is where you read over the report and call me with any questions you might have. I'm happy to say that step nine doesn't happen every time, and I like to think it's because I did such a good job explaining things in step seven. However, step nine is always there for you. I'm always a phone call or email away and I'm happy to discuss anything you might be concerned about.

So there are the nine steps to get you from the offer being accept to picking out new drapes. I hope you will go to the next time you need to have an inspection done.

Bonus Section!

Here is a short list of things that sellers can do to prepare their home for the inspection.

1: Put the pets away. I love dogs (and some cats find me tolerable) but they can get underfoot when doing an inspection, and if the buyers have small children they may get freaked out. Crate them if possible or take them for a drive while we are scheduled for the inspection.

2: If possible, be scarce. Yes, that sounds harsh, but it's what your agent is too nice to say to you. I honestly don't mind you being there at all. However, if you are there when the buyers arrive, it can make them feel awkward. In some cases the buyers and sellers will have a great discussion about the house and everything will go great. In most cases, though, the buyers are trying to picture themselves living in this house, and it's hard to do if you are there. And they can feel shy about asking questions that they should be asking because you are there and they don't want to offend you. So if possible, take the kids to a movie and let us do our thing. I promise I won't rifle through your drawers or leave your back door unlocked. I'm a licensed, insured professional and I spend more time in other people's houses than my own.

3: Make sure I have access to the attic, water heater, breaker panel and all of the rooms in the house. I hate it when I'm inspecting a great house and everything is going great until I go into the garage and discover that a car is blocking the attic access. Now I can't inspect the attic, insulation, ductwork, furnace, dryer vent, etc. So what should have been a good report is marred by a big question mark. Remember, I'm not supposed to move your stuff to get to the things I need to get to, so make me a little path and everyone wins.

4: If you have are having an issue with something in your house, leave me a note. I'm going to find out anyway, but if you leave a note it tells the buyers that you know there is a problem, you are addressing the problem and they will feel better about the problem because everyone is aware of it. If you had a problem that was fixed, you may want to let me know about that as well. For example, if the refrigerator water line was leaking and you fixed it, let me know. I'll probably still see moisture in the wall where the leak was, but if you let me know that it was addressed I can let the buyers know that I found moisture in the wall from a previous leak that you repaired. Now you look good, I look good and the buyers feel good. A triple win!

5: Tidy up. Again, it really doesn't bother me in what state you leave your house, but you don't want to give the buyers a reason to start feeling buyers remorse while they are in their option period. Try to keep it in the same shape that it was in when you were showing it and everything should be fine.

6: Leave some cookies out for the inspector. This has never happened, but I'm trying to start a new trend. Inspectors have to keep a certain amount of girth, otherwise our toolbelts will be constantly falling down.

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