The home inspector who checks out your prospective purchase is one of the most important steps in the home-buying process. However, home inspectors aren’t guaranteed – or even required – to catch everything that is wrong with a home. That’s why it’s always a good idea to have secondary evaluations done of key areas, to catch the things a hurried home inspector can miss if they don’t look closely enough (or know what to look for!)
Here are five areas you should make sure have been properly vetted before making an offer on a home.
- HVAC. Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems can have issues that slip right by the average home inspector. They often won’t even be tested in one mode or another if it is offseason, with the inspector citing adverse conditions or fear of breaking it if they test it. (There will usually be a disclaimer in the report to this effect.) Having an HVAC specialist come in and check it is well worth the money and can set your mind at ease.
- Roofing. This is another area that commonly gets past home inspectors, as hidden issues can be hard to locate if the inspector – as is common – simply inspects the roof by looking out of windows and using binoculars from the ground without ever accessing the roof itself either from above or from attic space. A licensed roof contractor can come and check the roof for you, determining if a few missing shingles or popped nails is indicative of a bigger issue.
- Appliances. Another biggie when it comes to missed issues are appliances that are improperly installed or not in prime working condition. If power is not on when the house is inspected, this needs to be checked with power on – run each appliance through two full cycles a day apart (washing machine, dishwasher, clothes dryer) and plug-in refrigerators/freezers for 24 hours and recheck them. This doesn’t guarantee internal issues won’t cause a breakdown later but will show up any leaks or ventilation/draining issues.
- Windows and Siding. Damaged siding or old, drafty windows usually fall outside the purview of standard contracts which require the seller to fix deficiencies in major systems, such as electric and plumbing, to complete the sale. You may want to have a test done on the home to see how many leaks there are that could cause air conditioning and heating costs to skyrocket in summer and winter.
- Flooring. In homes with carpet, there could be old flooring underneath with issues that have been hidden by new covering. Shadowing an inspector and asking them to peek underneath could save you a nasty surprise later if there is mold, rot, or insect damage.
If problems show up, have a specialist prepare an estimate of what it would cost to fix the issue. This gives you leverage when revisiting the price of the home. It could be well worth it to spend a few hundred dollars on exploratory investigations by experts to save thousands down the line!