Island Home Inspections & Consulting Services - Kimo Franklin
Island Home Inspections
Tel: (808) 395-7809 or (808) 291-9479

Know What to Expect from a Home Inspection

Purchasing a home is one of the biggest money investments many of us make in our lives and having a properly done home inspection completed is wise; however, many buyers are not aware of what to expect during the home inspection process and how to proceed with the findings.

1. Why Inspect? Regardless if you are a buyer, seller or home owner who rents or lives in the home, you will benefit by having a properly done home inspection. In general, 1. When buying - a properly done home inspection will help reduce the risk of purchasing a home and give you leverage in negotiating the sales price with the seller, 2. When selling - a properly done home inspection allows you to disclose more thoroughly the physical condition of the home and 3. When owner-occupying or renting your investment property - a properly done home inspection allows you the peace of mind knowing that your home is safe and gives you the information you need to keep your home in good working order. 

2. What is the scope of the inspection and "Standards of Practice"? Depending on who's standards you follow, just be sure the inspection is being done according to standards you have been given a copy of. The most common and reputable standards have been produced by a few nationwide home inspection organizations one being the "American Society of Home Inspectors". By knowing what standards the inspector is using, you will know what is being inspected and what is not being inspected under the scope of the inspectors work. In general, most inspections are visual in nature, non-invasive and are mostly limited to areas in the home that can be safely and reasonably accessed. The inspector will not move furnishings and items in the home to get to areas not accessible if the home is occupied. Good inspectors will make every attempt to look in crawl space and attic areas so the access hatches to these areas should be clear. The intent of good home inspectors is to be as thorough as possible; however, to not cause damage during the inspection and to leave the property in the same condition as when it was entered. 

3.  Be aware there there are limitations to what an inspection can discover so it is good to be familiar with the scope of the inspection and standards being followed.  Inspectors cannot completely eliminate risk in purchasing a home. There will always be some inherent risk. One cannot always discover all issues or conditions that may be important under the scope of the inspection and during a one-time visit; however, inspectors do submit a huge amount of information including deficiencies, damage and/or repair items found and educate the home buyer on items such as hot the home was built and building materials and methods used. Inspectors give an overview of the issues found and their possible consequences if not repaired. Also, inspectors are concentrating on looking for significant issues with the major systems and components in the home; however, the inspection is limited in the fact that the inspection cannot be invasive in nature or overly technically exhaustive. Specialist who may be called in after the inspection will be the ones to open up components, get more technically exhaustive or diagnostic and give estimates on repairs. Inspectors are also not spending time on small details such as common minor cosmetic flaws, broken blinds, etc. Hence, the value of the inspection is that the inspector can help reduce your risk during the real estate transaction process with the information they provide; however, not eliminate it. 

4. Same day (on-site) reports - Caution!  During the inspection an inspector is in the information gathering mode. The inspector is going through the home systematically and trying to be as thorough as possible. For many inspectors, it may not be wise to be trying to evaluate more complicated issues at the same time. Often, after the inspection is complete and the inspection notes and pictures are being evaluated during the report writing, many problems make sense and can be reported on more accurately. The immediate recognizing of these problems in the field during the inspection may not actually occur in many instances. So be forewarned, that by rushing a report or by producing a report on site may not be of good service for a client who is depending on a thorough, accurate evaluation of any major problems discovered during the inspection. Also, who is seeking good recommendations for following-up on any major issues discovered. 

5. It's really good for the client to be present at the inspection. Being present by the client during the inspection is an opportunity for the client to ask questions and see what the inspector does. All inspectors have their own style during the inspection process, however, many inspectors may like to be allowed to complete the inspection first before talking in great detail to the client about the property. Than after the inspection is completed, spend time with the client to summarize their findings, walk them through the property and answer questions. Anytime before the end of the inspection, discussion regarding the home may be speculative vs. objective since the home inspector has not had a chance to complete the inspection. All clients deserve a thorough consultation and walk through of the property at the end of the inspection so they can ask questions and be more clear on items when reading the inspection report. 

6.  Know how to differentiate between what an inspector says (the generalist) and what a contractor or repair technician says (the specialist).  Contractors most often don't know what the scope of the inspection is and may make comments regarding what they think is a lack of information on the inspectors report since the contractor is performing and evaluating on a more specialized and technically exhaustive investigation. Remember that contractors and technicians are looking at one system or one issue only and can evaluate one specific condition in more detail vs. an inspector who is looking at the whole property and has to be more generalized in his/her evaluation of many systems and components. Otherwise, the inspector would be exceeding the scope of the inspection, be at the property much longer and charging a much higher fee. Also, performing tasks on the property the inspector is not authorized to perform (e.g. being invasive or opening up components to diagnose issues). Inspectors are normally not able to perform these tasks under the scope of their work so they will refer out items that need further more technically exhaustive evaluation to specialists (e.g. contractors, repair technicians, etc.). The intent of the home inspection is to be as thorough as possible by following reputable inspection standards. Also, to have ultimate respect for the property. Hence, to not cause damage and to leave the property in the same condition as it was found before the inspection. 

7.  The inspector needs to be objective and inform client as objectively and clearly as possible the condition of the property.  Simply put, the inspectors job is to inform you on just the facts based off what is visible and observed at the time of the inspection. Also, give valid recommendations to the client on how to proceed with any issues found (e.g. what type of professional or contractors to contact for further investigation and/or repair).  The inspector should not be subjective and tell clients subjective comments such as whether he/she would purchase the property, how he/she would rate the property on a number scale, or it the home passes or fails. These types of comments are of no help to the client and can lead to misunderstandings and disputes. Also, don't expect the inspector to submit cost estimates for repairs. Inspectors should not be doing repairs due to conflicts of interest and inspectors are not the one to assess the cost or value of items that need repair. This is for contractors, vendors and/or repair technicians to do. They are the ones doing the actual work and can submit accurate proposals or cost estimates. It is been seen to often when non-repair people give out what they think are fairly accurate cost estimates only to find out later that they were off on their estimates compared to the actual cost of repair once the contractors or repairs persons cost estimates are obtained.  This is of no service to the client and can often led to financial and repair budget problems. 

8. Don't hesitate to follow up with the inspector with questions regarding any items on the inspection report.  Often post-inspection communications can clear up grey areas or issues that otherwise seem serious or intimidating to a client and allow the transaction to proceed.  Inspectors should be easily reachable after the inspection is completed and report submitted for clients who have questions or concerns. 

9. Be knowledgeable when hiring an inspector.  Know the credentials and experience of the inspector and if they are insured. Also, what type of inspection and report the inspector will submit. Inquire on what inspection standards are being followed. Ask for a copy of the inspection standards that explain the scope of the inspection. Also, for a sample report so you can see the format of the report and know what systems and components are being inspected and reported on. Digital pictures should be included in the report. Suggest that the inspector be hired whom the client is most comfortable with based off the inspectors credentials, experience and inspecting/reporting format. Shop on value and not just the inspection fee alone. Too many people hire based on the inspection fee alone trying to save a few dollars. This makes little sense when you are purchasing a home worth hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars. The risk for losses due to unexpected repairs not discovered and reported on during the inspection process can be much greater dollar wise with a poorly done home inspection done by an inadequately trained and experienced home inspector. Also, the leveraging capacity you gain in negotiating the sales price of the property with the seller is much greater when you are knowledgeable about the condition of the property will surely save you more money than trying to save a few dollars on the home inspection fee when hiring a low-ball possibly under-qualified inspector. 

10. Be aware that there is no licensing required by the State of Hawaii for home inspectors at this time. Consequently, almost anybody with little or no training can call themselves a home inspector. So it is especially critical to do your research and know who you are hiring in order to avoid hiring an under-qualified home inspector who may fail to give you all the essential information you need in your real estate purchasing decisions. 

Island Home Inspections, PO Box 240752 Honolulu, Hawaii 96824-0752  Tel: (808) 395-7809/291-9479

Copyright 2015  Brooks Kimo Franklin - BKF Island Enterprises, Inc. dba Island Home Inspections - All Rights Reserved