Foundation Inspection Tips For Buyers and Sellers

Whether you’re buying or selling, the basis of your real-estate transaction depends heavily on the foundation of the home. Be prepared for the home inspection and buying/selling process with these tips:

Buyers

Read your Home Inspection report very carefully. Foundation settlement is a structural concern and can diminish the value of any home. If there is the slightest indication of a foundation issue, call a local, trusted foundation repair contractor for assistance. A reputable contractor will give you a fair and honest assessment of the property.

Examples of some of the warning statements in a home inspection report:

  • Some evidence of settling was observed.
  • Foundation movement may exceed FHA/VA standards.
  • Cracking of floor slab noted.
  • Cracks in brick/floor/wall/ceiling.
  • Fascia/trim separation.
  • Windows difficult to open.
  • Caulk separation at windows or doors.
  • Recommend contacting a foundation repair contractor.

Don’t be fooled by a Home Inspection report, which is typically written in more general terms and may occasionally gloss over foundation problems. Remember that the home inspector’s role is to report on the general conditions of a home not provide a structural report.

Sellers:

Here are some helpful things to remember:

  • A good foundation repair company can typically complete a repair within 1-2 days.
  • FHA/VA and conventional loan approvals are no problem when the foundation is properly repaired and backed up by a lifetime warranty (always check to see if your contractor offers a lifetime transferable warranty)
  • The best way to avoid last minute closing problems is to have the foundation inspected before you put the house on the market. A local foundation repair specialist will be happy to provide you with a no cost evaluation and assessment.
  • If you are owner financing the sale, you may sell the property without foundation repairs as long as you disclose what you know about the foundation. Homes that need foundation repairs generally sell at a discount far below the cost of repairs.

Home Inspection Tip 2 – Checking the Interior of A Home

You should know the basics of screening out the wrong houses. Some inspectors are not as meticulous as you would like them to be. So here are some pointers in checking the structure of the interior of a house that you want to purchase so you will get the best deal at house closing:

– Having entrance foyer in a home is desirable as it helps in conserving heat in winter and coolness in summer days. Having a large closet near the doorway is great.

– The kitchen should be located near the dining area, living room and the garage. Also, see to it that there are lots of storage space and area for a dining nook. The counter length should be at least two feet. The exhaust fan should be placed above the stove. The stove, refrigerator, and sink should be near one another so it will be easier for you to move if you will prepare food in the kitchen.

– A bathroom should be on the same floor as the kitchen, and there should be one and a half bathrooms for every two bedrooms. Ideally, a bathroom will be off the main bedroom.

– Flush all toilets to check them, and lift the cover off the tank to inspect whether the workings inside are working properly. Visit the highest bathroom in the house, turn all the faucets, and flush the toilet, to see if the water flows very slowly. Interior baths are better than those that have an outside wall, but they should have exhaust fans. Moreover, do not forget to check the ceilings below bathrooms for water stains.

– The fireplace should have an ash box, for ease of cleaning. Fireplace flooring should extend 18 inches in front, then one foot beyond each side of the fireplace. Check whether the damper is in good condition.

– The garage should slant down toward the outside, and it should have a window, along with a door besides the main door. An electrical outlet should also be available.

– Check the walls of the basement for cracks. Any crack one-third of an inch wide is not a good indication that the house is structurally well-built. A horizontal crack is worse than a vertical crack; it may signify that the wall is buckling.

– Look at the nails in the floorboards of the basement to see if they are rusty that can be a possible sign of flooding. And see whether the floor tiles have white stains at the joints, another sign of water damage. Freshly painted baseboard or basement walls could be a sign that the seller is trying to hide a water problem. Poke wood with a screwdriver; if it is soft, there may be termite damage.

– You should not have to walk through one bedroom to get to another. Any bedroom should have windows on two different walls for cross ventilation. Closets should have four feet of rod space per family member.

– In the attic, look for watermarks on the ceiling. A window or louvers should give ventilation. Six inches of insulation are desirable in the attic.

Some Home Inspection Tips for Buyers

Homebuyers want home inspection tips as they consider making a large financial investment. Tips about home inspection are especially valuable for those who have not purchased a house before. This article is intended to provide such readers the most important pointers to follow so that the real estate buying process is not so overwhelming.

The home inspection tips contained herein address three primary concerns, namely, how to select a home inspector, how to ensure you get the inspection you want and need, and how to get the most benefit out of the inspection report. These pointers apply whether or not you are working with a real estate agent. In fact, if you are working with an agent, these tips will help you get more involved so that the agent doesn’t make all or even some decisions unilaterally.

Our first tip is to consider why you should have the house you plan to buy inspected. There are various motives or reasons for doing so, the most common of which is to avoid buying a money pit. Sometimes the lender requires an inspection, and in general it’s a good idea to discover what may need to be remedied prior to closing. Also, though at one time a home warranty policy was commonly incorporated into the purchase agreement (perhaps seller and buyer sharing the cost), today the home inspection is in essence the only step taken to protect one’s investment.

But this makes it all the more important to get a report that covers all the bases and serves as a kind of owner’s manual to help you get acquainted to your new residence. Unfortunately, too often the inspection is somewhat rushed or even cursory. Minor problems might get glossed over and occasionally a serious major defect is missed. In such a case, if damages occur down the road, the buyer has some recourse by filing a claim, assuming the inspector is bonded. But the liability may be limited to the price of the inspection.

So our second tip is to find a home inspector who is thorough and who writes a complete report that puts everything he finds in proper perspective. If something is wrong, it is important to know what the implications are, just how serious the problem is, and how necessary it is to fix it.

To accomplish this, your inspector should not be too beholden to the real estate agent. If his primary goal is to please the agent (so he can continue to get referrals), he may take shortcuts. (Agents in general prefer quick inspections and summarized findings of major issues only.)

Don’t ignore or discount an inspector referral from your agent, but ask for more than one name and research them. (Most inspectors have a website with sample reports, and you may find there or elsewhere reviews or client testimonials appraising their work.) Be sure you are going to get the kind of home inspection you want before choosing the inspector.

Our third tip builds on the first two and is similar to them. The first tip was the why, whereas the second advises care in determining who inspects the house and how it is inspected. This next tip advises taking care to establish what is inspected.

A number of things can cause an inspector to exclude items from the inspection. Examples are Standards of Practice, his contract, the utilities not being on, inaccessibility due to blocking objects or locked doors, and dangerous situations. Some of these things are under the inspector’s control, some are not, but he is not liable for unintended exclusions and will charge the same fee despite them.

Thus, we recommend reviewing the contract carefully, identifying normally excluded items you want included and possibly normally included items you don’t care about. Also, be sure that lender requirements and constraints will be accommodated. Discuss changes to the list of exclusions and inclusions with the inspector, potentially negotiating a reduced inspection fee.

Then, we advise leaving as little to chance as possible. Ask the inspector what his expectations are to ensure that all inclusions are actually inspected. Relay this information to your real estate agent, who is responsible for seeing that the expectations are met by making arrangements with the owner via the owner’s listing agent. Now, any unintended exclusions that arise would suggest a deliberately uncooperative seller.

Our fourth tip is to get maximum leverage out of the inspection report. Study all findings in the body, not just the major items listed in the summary. If you followed our second tip faithfully, there should be nothing unclear, vague, or out of context. Even so, don’t hesitate to ask the inspector for explanations or elaborations, who should be more than willing to comply.

Some findings may be purely informational and not defects. Some defects may be more or less trivial and not worth pursuing. Serious problems can be addressed in three different ways: as deal breakers, causing you to withdraw your offer; as things you want the seller to remedy prior to closing at his expense; or as conditions you will accept possibly with some form of compensation such as reduced sales price.

We advise against sharing the inspection report with the seller or listing agent. You have paid for it and it belongs to you. The lender may require a copy, but you may request him to keep it confidential. Simply work up a brief contract addendum with your agent covering items falling into the last two categories mentioned in the previous paragraph.

By following these home inspection tips, you stand the best chance of minimizing if not eliminating home-buying surprises.