When you purchase a home, you need to know exactly what you’re buying. Imagine how frustrated you’d be to find out that the hot water heater wasn’t working mid-shower! This is why you should have a home inspection before you buy your home. In Oregon, the inspection period is 10 business days after the sales agreement is signed. This time gives you, the buyer, a chance to have professionals take a look at the home and advise any repairs that it may need. Most commonly, there is a home inspection (a top-to-bottom inspection of the home), sewer scope (a camera is sent through the main sewer line to inspect it for obstructions or degradation), and a radon test (the Pacific NW and Portland have higher than average radon levels, so it may not be necessary in your area). However, not all inspectors are created equally. Just as in every profession, you’ll find good and bad inspectors. Usually your Realtor will have inspectors that they have worked with that they can recommend to you, but you should still do your homework. Before you hire a home inspector, here are a few questions to ask to make sure you’ve got someone that you will be happy with.
- What does your inspection cover? Not all inspections are the same. Different inspectors have different areas that they focus on, and a range of services. More often, now, we are seeing inspectors that act as a “one stop shop” for home, sewer, and radon. This is nice because you can set one appointment to get all your inspections done in a timely manner, especially if the home you’re buying is not vacant. Many inspectors also offer levels of inspections. A basic package is usually cost-effective and covers the State minimum requirements, and with increasing costs, you can add more detailed inspection. Also, be sure to ask if the inspection covers the garage. Many times if it a detached structure, the garage will cost extra. If you are concerned about something specific, like a leaky faucet in the bathroom, mention that to the inspector so they can check it out.
- Are you licensed or certified? If you live in a state that licenses home inspectors, ask to see their license. In Oregon, you’ll want someone who is licensed with the Construction Contract Board (CCB) and an Oregon Certified Home Inspector (OCHI). At the very least, choose a home inspector who belongs to American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). This shows a level of professionalism and education that you can trust.
- What kind of report will you give me? You should expect a written report detailing what the inspector found. Most inspectors will give you a typed report within a week of the inspection. Great inspectors will give you your report at the site and go over it with you in person, which is why it’s important to be at your home inspection. The report should contain plenty of pictures and a good amount of detail as to what the areas of concern are. This will not only paint a picture of the overall condition of the home, but can help you and your Realtor decide which, if any, repairs you are going to ask for in the repair addendum.
- Do you offer re-inspections? In situations where you’ve requested major repairs, it’s a good idea to have the inspector come back out to reinspect the areas of concern. Many home inspection companies provide a re-inspection at a discounted cost to just look at the repairs that have been made to see if they were properly completed.
At the end of the day, the home inspection is a tool for the buyer to ensure that the home they are purchasing isn’t hiding unsafe and costly conditions. In competitive markets like Portland, people will sometimes waive the inspection period to make their offer stronger, but I think that’s like buying a car without a test drive. Taking the time and spending a little bit upfront can not only save you money later, but it can keep you from making a bad investment.
If you’re looking for a home inspector in the Portland Metro area, contact me and I can refer you to a few excellent local inspectors!