Home Inspections 101: Everything A First-time Homebuyer Should Know

Posted by Alex Lewis on Tuesday, February 27th, 2018 at 2:10pm.


You finally found the perfect Central Texas home.

The house checks all your boxes: it is the right style and size, has an entertaining kitchen, and even boasts an awesome master bedroom. To make things even better, your offer was accepted by the homeowner. Congratulations!

You’re one step closer to owning your first home.

The next step in your home buying journey is the home inspection. The job of a home inspector is to provide interested homebuyers an unbiased report about the utility and safety of the home they are preparing to purchase.

While a home inspection is not required, it is highly recommended. A home inspector gives you the chance to understand a property through the trained scrutiny of someone whose job it is to notice problems, risks, and potential future costs.

It is the home buyers responsibility to seek out and hire a home inspector. If you need help knowing who to trust, contact a JB Goodwin agent. We would be glad to give some recommendations.

1. Take your time choosing a quality inspector

Home inspectors must be certified. It shouldn’t just be a family friend who volunteered to give you an honest assessment. Home inspectors are trained to know even the subtle, hard-to-notice problems that would escape even a careful eye.

Don’t make the decision on a whim. Nowadays, the internet makes it easy to vet home inspectors based on reviews.

You shouldn’t expect to spend a fortune on a home inspection, but we advise also not going for the bottom of the barrel. Remember that a few dollars saved on a home inspector might mean thousands of dollars lost over the details he/she missed. Home Advisor says that the national average cost for a home inspection is $324.

2. Here’s what you’ll learn from the inspection

Online resources, like this one from Total Home Inspection, describe in detail many of the places inspectors look for potential problems within a home. The list on their website is extensive, but here is a short peak into some of the basic elements:

  • If there is no standing water in the yard
  • All railings along stairways are sturdy
  • Driveways and walkways appear in good condition
  • Walls of the home are straight and do not bow
  • Visible foundation is in good condition
  • Wood frames and trim are secure
  • No open electrical splices in the attic
This list leaves out a lot—and Total Home Inspection mentioned that even the list on their website is not exhaustive. Home inspectors are on the lookout for anything and everything that could cause problems for you as a homeowner.


3. Attend the inspection

Inspector reports are much easier to understand if you attend the actual inspection. Going along with your inspector will put their findings into clearer perspective.

This also gives you the opportunity to ask questions or posit concerns you may have about the home. If certain elements are particularly important to you, tell the inspector. After all, they are trained to prioritize discovering certain problems. Your priorities might concern elements of the home that are less on their radar.


4. Pay special attention to these details from the home inspection report

Once a home inspector returns to you with results, what are the most important—or potentially expensive—flaws to pay attention to?

Obviously, some details are more important than others. A structural issue will cost more money to fix than replacing a window that doesn’t provide proper insulation, for example. Here are a few things to pay special attention for:

  • Electrical: This is the 21st century. If the home doesn’t have strong electrical, many families will be disappointed. We need to plug in everything from cell phones to televisions to refrigerators and microwaves these days. If the house can’t handle your electronics, it’s good to know. Unstable or antiquated electronics can also cause a fire, potentially putting your life and home in harm’s way. According to the NFPA, between 2010 and 2014 there were over 45,000 house fires caused by an electrical failure or malfunction.
  • Roof: Replacing or fixing a roof can be a huge expense. If the inspector’s report comes back with reasons to worry about the condition of the roof, this is worth serious consideration.
  • Property drainage: A home can look great in the dry season, only to prove to have terrible drainage that leads to flooding during the rainy season. Know the risks before the storms hit.
  • HVAC: Having fully-functioning heating and air conditioning is especially important in Central Texas. Summers spent without quality A/C can be grueling and you don’t want to be without heat if we have another cold-snap in the middle of winter
  • Mold or mildew: It isn’t always obvious when a home has endured water damage. Mold and mildew can spread where you can’t see it, getting into the air—and possibly your lungs. Prioritize your health by knowing what’s behind your walls.
We hope this helps you make the most of your next home inspection. Even if some of these issues are found by a home inspector, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you should walk away from the deal. Knowing is half the battle and a JB Goodwin REALTOR can help you negotiate the price of the home. Whether you want to find a home in Austin, San Antonio, or some other spot in Central Texas, our team is here for you.

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