What Homebuyers Need to Ask About Building Inspections

Posted on: 14 April 2017

Building inspections are typically done before any buyer goes through with an offer they've made on a home, to ensure that the structure is in good repair and that everything is up to local codes. If you're thinking of buying a house and need to schedule an inspection, note a few questions you need to ask and why you should understand these issues before the inspection is scheduled.

Ask if you should be present

A homebuyer is often welcome to be present during an inspection, and many inspectors even encourage it, to ensure they can point out certain issues to you and you understand their remarks about various problems with the building's structure. However, note that they may limit areas you should be in during an inspection, such as crawlspaces in attics and areas that expose you to insulation, dust, and the like.

Ask if the inspection includes termites, pest infestation, mould or asbestos

Don't assume anything about the inspection and what's included, as many inspectors will just check to see if the electrical, plumbing, and roof are up to code, and nothing more. If you want a building checked for termites or mould or anything additional, ask if this is included. If it is not, ask the inspector if they can recommend someone to do this work, as they may have contacts who specialize in such inspections for homebuyers.

Ask when it should be done

Many homeowners won't allow an inspection until they've decided to accept an offer. This keeps them from having to host inspectors in their home every time someone simply shows an interest in the house. However, you do want to schedule the inspection in enough time to ensure it gets done and allows you to withdraw the offer during the legal cooling off period, or during whatever time frame is noted in your offer. Don't wait until the last minute to schedule the inspection, as some inspectors get very booked and can't get the inspection done as quickly as you expect.

Ask about their insurance

Inspectors should have some type of indemnity or errors and omission insurance. This protects you if something in their report is missing or incorrect. For example, if they overlook a wiring problem and the home suffers an electrical fire, their insurance should cover the cost of repairs. You want to ensure this policy is in place and note its limits so you know you're financially protected in case of home damage due to problems that should have been brought to your attention through an inspection.