When buying a new home, one of the decisions you will be faced with is “should I get a home inspection?” Home inspections add to both the cost and time of the closing process and it can be tempting to skip it if the home is newer or seems in great condition, but that could leave you vulnerable to stress and expensive repairs in the future. We sat down with Randal Pitts of BPG Inspections to discuss why a home inspection is important and how to make sure you’re getting a good one.

Buying a home is the single most expensive purchase you will make in your lifetime. It is important to go into a home purchase armed with as much information as possible. Just as most people research their appliances, cars, and electronics before they buy, you should dig a little deeper into the home you’ve chosen before you sign on the dotted line. A home inspector is trained to look at a home from foundation to roofing, to ascertain its current condition and ensure all is up to code. They will check electrical and plumbing, HVAC components, safety features, windows and doors, insulation and more to make sure there are no unknowns lurking in the walls of your dream home. Having this information is vital to making an informed decision when purchasing a home.

Can I Opt-Out?

If you decide to opt-out of a home inspection, please do so knowing that you are putting yourself at risk. You will be required by your Realtor to sign a Release of Liability form. Refusing a home inspection will also put your realtor at risk for future litigation and this form is designed to protect the Realtor by recording that you acknowledge they advised you to have an inspection done and have willingly chosen not to do so. This form should be a major red flag. If you have to sign a waiver to proceed with your home purchase, perhaps you should rethink your decision to skip the home inspection. When you take possession of the home, any deficiencies or abnormalities, such as a damaged foundation, leaking roof, electrical hazards, or faulty heat/AC systems will now be your sole responsibility. By bypassing the home inspection, you agree to take the home as is and will not have the opportunity to discover these issues ahead of time and negotiate with the seller for repairs or decide to walk away.

Sometimes, when buying a home, the seller will offer up a previous home inspection to speed the process along and save the buyer some cash. It may seem tantalizing and reassuring but beware. There are a number of factors to consider. First, when was the home inspection completed? The condition of a home can change from month to month. Issues in the home could have developed after the home inspection was completed and will therefore not be included. It will not be a complete picture of the current state of the home. The second thing to consider is who did the previous home inspection? Were they certified and experienced? Did they know what to look for? Was it performed by the seller’s cousin, who is helpfully glossing over an issue to aid in the quick sale of the home? If you are not familiar with the home inspector you could run afoul of any number of issues regarding the quality of the home inspection. While you can definitely read the provided home inspection for reference, it is always better to have your own inspection done by the inspector of your choice for safety and peace of mind.

How Do I Find an Inspector? 

It’s not just important to have a home inspection, it’s also important to choose the right inspector. While it can be tempting to go the economical route and find the cheapest home inspection possible, Pitts instead suggests you utilize your Realtor’s expertise, interviews, and reviews rather than price to select your home inspector. “Don’t just get an inspection, get it done by the person with the proper certifications,” Pitts suggested. “And not just certifications, the right experience, and the right tools.” It is important to interview any potential home inspector and get a feel for how they operate. Ask them questions about their certifications and years of experience, their home inspection process and areas they like to focus on. You can also speak to them specifically about the home you are wanting to be inspected. They should be knowledgeable and accommodating. They are paid to provide information and should be ready and willing to do so. If the inspector doesn’t have time to talk to you and never calls you back, find an inspector willing to communicate openly and regularly. Be sure to also ask your potential home inspector what they will be inspecting and how. Will they get up on the roof or do they have a drone? Will they go into crawl spaces or attics to check wiring? Make sure they have the right tools for your home.

The Day of the Inspection 

When it’s time for your home inspection, Pitt recommends both you and your Realtor attend, but cautions against bringing an entire entourage. Even if Uncle Mike has flipped several houses or has been in HVAC for 15 years, having more people there will distract from the home inspection process and could potentially muddy the waters of information received. Having your Realtor present will give you another pair of ears to hear and process everything the home inspector says. Your Realtor will have experience with home inspections and will be able to help you differentiate between major issues and recommended upgrades when receiving what can be overwhelming amounts of information. Pitt also cautions against binging on home improvement shows as a source of information. All processes are compressed by necessity on a TV show and do not convey an accurate picture of what they entail or how complicated they truly are. Lean on the expertise of your Realtor and home inspector instead to get you through the process.

Come prepared to your home inspection with a list of questions or concerns you might have for your inspector. This is where Uncle Mike’s expertise can be put to good use! Do a little research into homes built in the era, and what potential issues you may run into. Speak to your inspector ahead of time and bring up any concerns you may have or areas you want to be sure they check. Then let him or her get to work. When they have finished inspecting the entire home, they will do a walk through and explain everything they found in detail. Feel free to ask as many questions as you want here, this is your time to utilize their experience and expertise to garner as much understanding as possible. A good inspector will also make a follow-up call 24- 48 hours after he or she delivers the report to talk through anything that concerns you. Their job is to walk you through the entire process and make sure you feel confident with the information.

Buying a home can be stressful, but with a home inspection provided by a certified and experienced home inspector, you can begin your future in your new home with confidence in your choice.

Randal Pitts is the Austin Area Manager and Technical and Marketing Coach for BPG Inspections Texas. He has over 15 years of experience performing home inspections.