1. You should do a basic ‘pre-inspection’, prior to the home inspection. You can really learn a lot about a house just by looking at it. This would include looking at the walls and ceilings for any evidence of water damage (discoloration, stains, etc.), trying all the light switches and outlets you can to make sure the electrical layout makes sense, looking for drainage issues and areas with peeling paint, around decks and porches and inspecting the siding, etc. This will allow you to have a good idea of things you'd like your inspector to pay extra attention to and, possibly, give you a ‘heads-up’ on whether you might need to ask for thermal or infrared imaging services. 2. Try to be present for the home inspection and ask questions. It is very helpful for you to point out specific problem areas that you may specifically want inspected. Your knowledge of potential issues is invaluable, as this will be the first time that your home inspector has been on the property. 3. Your home inspector should be chosen as someone that you trust, as this will help to insure your peace of mind. While your Realtor probably has a few inspectors that he or she can recommend, you really should research and choose one that you feel comfortable with. An impartial, third-party home inspector will not have any loyalty to your Realtor and will be able to talk freely and frankly about potential issues. You may have to pay a little bit extra for a quality home inspector, but compared to the purchase price of a house, it is well worth it. Nachi.org is a good site to find reputable home inspectors. 4. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Your home inspector should have the necessary knowledge to evaluate whether or not this potential property has any issues that would make purchasing the home a bad decision. However, if something doesn't look right or you don't understand what a home inspector is referring to, don’t hesitate to ask questions. 5. Verify that your home inspector will take lots of pictures and make them available to you. Your home inspector will access areas that you may not go, such as the roof, crawl space, under decks, the attic, etc. Some inspectors offer Infrared and thermal camera imaging, which will provide valuable information by looking behind walls and floors that you otherwise wouldn't be able to get without ripping out drywall or flooring. Your inspector may charge more for these services and you should ask for these additional services if a problem area is suspected. 6. Look at the roof. The roof plays a major role in keep the interior in good shape. Also, it is one of the most expensive and labor-intensive parts of a house to replace. Try to find out when the roof was last replaced, the age of the shingles, and if there is an existing warranty. Make sure your home inspector actually goes up on the roof during the inspection (unless it's physically unsafe to do so). Look for curling or missing shingles. Look for signs of water intrusion around roof penetrations, such as the chimney, vents, or skylights. Signs of water intrusion may also be seen from the attic if it's accessible. 7. The home inspector should not only test all GFCIs, but test the accessible outlets for correct wiring. The electrical panel dead front should be removed and the condition of the wiring should be inspected closely, with full documentation of the service capacity and potential issues. 8. Your home inspector should make sure all faucets are tested and cabinets are checked for leaks. Also, shower pans and bathtubs should all be leak tested by the inspector. The meter and main shutoff valve locations should be documented also. 9. The furnace, a/c unit, and water heater are important components in the home inspection. If any of this equipment is in need or replacing soon, this can be a point of price negotiation. Also, a dirty (poorly maintained) filter can be indicative of bigger problems and other issues requiring maintenance. 10. It is important to keep an eye out for cosmetic fixes that may be covering an underlying problem, such as a patched floor or a partially painted wall.
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