Tips for Working with a Home Inspector

With so many foreclosures on the market (in various states of repair) and lenders requiring higher down payments, buyers go into the inspection looking for confirmation that they’re getting a good value.  Anticipation of the home-inspection report is one of the more nerve-racking elements of a real estate sale.  The following tips might help reduce some of the stress.

Review the inspector’s contract up front.  Most contracts contain standard terms describing services and limiting liability (typically to the price of the inspector’s fees).

Study the final report with your agent.  Inspectors should put their observations in writing and provide photos of specific areas of concern.  Reconcile the report with the seller’s disclosure statement.

You may need a specialist.  Be prepared to bring in a specialized expert when an inspector finds a red flag.  You should get estimates for needed repairs and decide what you’d like the sellers to fix or offer as credit.

Discourage seller participation.  It is best that the seller not be present for your inspection.  If they insist, ask that their agent attend instead.  The sellers will receive a copy of the report with the Inspection Contingency Removal Amendment and can address any issues with their agent at that point.

Shadow the inspector.  Thorough inspections cover major systems – electrical, plumbing, roofing, HVAC, and more.  Although inspectors look for things that represent significant deficiencies that are not in view, they cannot pull up carpet or look for hidden defects in walls without the sellers’ permission.  Inspectors will also point out systems and provide buyers with guidance on how to maintain them so all buyers on the contract should be in attendance for this useful and necessary information.

Understand options if the inspector misses a major visible defect.  Many inspectors carry errors-and-omissions insurance, but their contracts often limit their liability to a refund of the fee.  Unless the defect is so blatant that they might be deemed grossly negligent for having missed it, they will rarely pay for needed repairs.

Finding the Right Home Inspector in Gwinnett, Cobb, Forsyth, and North Fulton

Home inspections can prevent a lot of headaches for both buyers and sellers. If you’re a homebuyer, an inspection could reveal problems you never would have noticed. An inspection can require the seller to address what needs fixing before you buy the home. You could also find issues that make you decide not to buy. If you’re a seller, an inspection may help you find problems before you put the house on the market, letting you make the repairs without bickering over the cost with a potential buyer. A typical home inspection covers all major mechanical systems, structural integrity, cosmetic features, and other aspects of the house.

The task should take two to four hours or more, depending on the complexity of the job. Costs range from $300 to $800 for typical homes, but they can go higher depending on the age and type of structure. On the day of the inspection, the inspector performs an initial site evaluation. Then the inspector takes you on a tour to point out any potential problems. Pay attention, watch, ask questions, make notes and learn.

A thorough inspection can find problems related to water entry, roof leaks, insect infestation, unsafe wiring, failed septic systems, poor plumbing, wet basements, mold and mildew, and safety hazards. You receive a written report detailing all the findings. The report should contain photographs and descriptions of any damage or defects found during the inspection as well as details on the location of damage. Pictures help you understand the scope and location of the damage, and visual proof makes it easier to get repair estimates.

So how can an inspector have expertise in so many different things? The simple answer is: Some don’t. That’s why it’s important to check an inspector’s background and references. Most home inspections are thorough, but even the best inspectors might not catch everything. The home inspector is not going to find every possible thing wrong or that could go wrong. That’s an unrealistic expectation.


Here’s how to find the right home inspector:  Look for an inspector before you shop for a home. If you choose a home first, time is critical and you may feel pressured to pick the first inspector you meet.

Ask friends, family, or your Realtor for recommendations. Do your research and ask lots of questions of prospective inspectors, including their backgrounds, the length of time they’ve been in the business, the number of inspections they’ve performed and what type of report they’ll provide.  Make sure they provide the report in a timely manner and in request an electronic copy suitable for emailing.

Look for an inspector with a broad knowledge of a home’s systems and structures, not just a specialized person such as a plumber or electrician.  If your state regulates home inspectors, check with the state agency to verify the inspector’s license and check his record for complaints; if your state does not regulate inspectors, look for credentials such as certification by ASHI.

Make sure your inspector is objective, independent and does not have any affiliation with the real estate agency selling the home.  Choose an inspector who carries errors and omissions insurance.  Take the time to speak with several inspectors and have confidence in their skills and ability to communicate effectively with you. 

Be sure your inspector is familiar with the particular type of house you’re considering. Homes of different ages, designs and materials each have special risks and offer special signs, symptoms and clues to hidden damage.

At Atlanta Housing Source, we want to be your source for real estate. Whether you live in Gwinnett, Cobb, North Fulton, or Forsyth, we can give you several referrals of home inspectors to contact, but the ultimate choice is yours.  Feel free to email us at info@AtlantaHousingSource.com or call Mark Lackey at 404-886-8789.