Updated April 19, 2021
Buying a home is one of the most exciting milestones in a person’s life.
Yet, the honeymoon phase can end abruptly if surprise defects are found after moving in.
Especially if they weren’t mentioned in the home inspection report.
The reality: not all inspectors are the same.
They vary in their experience, approach, and thoroughness — written and in-person.
And, regardless of the inspector you choose, it’s not all on them to make the experience productive!
Given that a home is a huge investment, it’s critical that you get the most out of your inspection.
Here are three way to make sure that happens:
Ask for a Sample Inspection Report
At PunchListUSA, we see thousands of home inspections; they differ more than you might think.
Some list all the deficiencies and lump all the photos together at the end (not ideal). Others, on the other hand, will break out defects, section-by-section, with high-quality pictures and detailed descriptions (this is what you want).
Asking for a sample report sounds like a no-brainer but very few people actually do it before hiring their inspector.
Ask the Inspector to Detail ALL of the Deficient Items
It is not uncommon for inspectors to write comments like this:
Repair or replace all fogged windows. (Additional fogged panes may be present. Recommend a contractor evaluate ALL windows and replace all glass panels with failed seals.)
Basically, the inspector is saying, “I don’t have time to look at every window so get someone else to do my job!”
Here’s the thing: you are paying them to inspect and they should give you a thorough inspection. Additionally, comments like these require buyers and agents to spend extra time on resources to determine the exact remedy.
Gain clarity and save yourself time by asking the inspector to document ALL items requiring repair.
Be “Present” at the Inspection
While a lot of this article has focused on what a home inspector could miss, it’s important that we also point out what you could miss by not being engaged in the process.
The majority of inspectors provide incredible value, take pride in their work, and enjoy teaching homeowners the ins and outs of systems like HVAC and electrical.
So, take advantage! Be active at the inspection. Resist the urge to catch up on emails — ask questions. Don’t rely on the final report — take notes!
You’ll never get a better opportunity to learn about how your home works and how to maintain it than in a 2-3 hour walkthrough with a professional home inspector.
Get Full Value
The home inspection shouldn’t be a passive process. As you’re spending between $300-$1,000 depending on the home’s size, you should want to get every penny out of your experience.
By asking the right questions before and during the inspection, you’ll gain a clear understanding of your home’s strengths and weaknesses — and become a much more capable and confident homeowner.