Inspection: The Most Important Step in Homebuying

A key element of every contract to buy a home is the inspection contingency, giving the buyer the opportunity to inspect the home for hidden or not-so-hidden defects.

The process begins with a general inspector, who looks at every component of the house. Expect to pay $300 or so, depending on house size. This inspector will typically…

> Run all the appliances—washer, dryer, disposal, dishwasher, cooktop burners, ovens, hood fan, etc.

> Fill, then drain, all sinks and tubs and run all showers, searching for leaks.

> Test the garage door opener, including checking to see if it has working sensors which reverse the closing door if something is detected or if it will reverse upon hitting an obstruction.

> Check the garage for holes in the fire break (drywall) and if the door between the garage and home is fire rated and has a working door closer.

> Use a moisture meter to detect moisture within or behind the drywall.

> Operate all electrical switches to see if they are working.

> Check a sampling of (or all) electrical outlets for correct polarity, and all outlets within 5 feet of water sources (and in the garage or outdoors) for ground-fault protection.

> Open the breaker box, checking for proper wiring and no double-tapping of individual breakers. Note whether the breaker box in Federal Pacific or Zinsco, which lost their UL approval due to fire risk.

> Determine whether to recommend a secondary inspection for asbestos (such as for popcorn ceiling), mold (if moisture has been detected), sewer scoping (if the home might have clay sewer pipes), or a more thorough electrical or plumbing inspection based on observations made by the inspector.

> Look for foundation problems.

> Check all windows and doors for operability and for missing or damaged screens.

That’s just the beginning! Your agent can recommended a trusted inspector.

Regulation of Inspectors Nixed by Sunrise Review

Home inspectors are the last remaining professional in the real estate transaction process who is not regulated by the State of Colorado. I have long recommended that they be regulated.

Typically, home inspectors are given the lockbox code to enter a home, since the buyer’s real estate agent may not be there to provide access. That alone should justify the regulation, including criminal background check, of inspectors by the Division of Real Estate. 

However, Colorado will remain one of the few states that doesn’t register or regulate home inspectors, based on a “sunrise review” by the Colorado Office of Policy, Research & Regulatory Reform.

Video Is Finding Its Way Into Buyer Inspection Reports to Illustrate Issues

Video has been a great listing tool at Golden Real Estate for a decade, but it is finding its way into other aspects of real estate, too. For example, we will often shoot a rough-cut video tour of a listing for an out-of-town buyer who has asked us to preview a property for them.

At a closing last Wednesday, the wife of the out-of-state buyer told me that she saw the listing for the first time in person during the final walk-through. The husband had seen it in person, but she said our narrated video tour was enough for her to agree with her husband to submit an offer..

So, yes, narrated videos like ours are a great listing and selling tool.

But last week, a home inspector came to our office seeking our patronage and said he includes videos in his inspection reports.  What a great idea!

I had been so used to getting printed inspection reports (PDFs) that it hadn’t occurred to me that reports could include video.  But an increasingly common delivery method for inspection reports is to have the report “in the cloud” and provide a link to it.  That approach opens up the possibility of having video clips and not just still photos.  I will recommend that inspector to a future buyer, but you can be sure that I also got on the phone and shared that idea with the inspectors I’ve been referring heretofore, some of them for over a decade.

I’ve received inspection reports that were in the cloud before, but none of them contained links to video clips, which could really help to illustrate some of the defects which inspectors uncover.

I hope this idea takes off and becomes a standard in the inspection industry.  Now that every cell phone and every digital camera has video capability, it would require no additional hardware for an inspector to shoot video instead of still photos when a video would do a better job of illustrating the issue or defect being described.

One of the advantages of videos is that they include sound. It’s a great way, for example, to illustrate an overly noisy fan motor or garage door opener or the sound as well as the motion of water under a plastic vapor barrier.

With narration by the inspector, a video can also provide more context to a problem, such as its location.