Home Inspection for House Owners

Tips from a professional home inspector that you should keep in mind

Michael Phan is a professional home inspector who founded Viet Home Inspection. Prior to opening his company, Michael spent more than 20 years as a designer, residential project manager and general contractor. For more information go to viethomeinspection.com.
Images courtesy of Michael Phan

What is a home inspection?

A home inspection is similar to a family doctor’s general examination. It provides information about the status of the house, such as roof, structure, exterior, electric, heating system, air conditioning, water supply and drainage systems, and insulation. If the home inspector suspects a bad situation, such as a potentially dangerous or costly issue that prohibits further examination, the work is transferred to a specialist. After that, the home inspector writes a report that customers can use it for other purposes, such as deciding whether to buy that house or not, to negotiate the price with the sellers or to fix the problems before selling.

A home inspection can also be described as:

  • A field performance review
  • An evaluation of the physical condition of the home
  • A visual inspection of readily accessible installed components
  • Non-destructive and non-invasive
  • A sampling inspection

When do you need help from a home inspector?

Depending on the needs of customers, the role of a home inspector varies. For homebuyers, the inspector finds problems in the house that they are about to buy. This could be leaking water in the basement bathroom, or problems inside the walls and ceilings that are camoflaged with paint. With this information, buyers can estimate additional costs that will be incurred and renegotiate the price with the seller.

For sellers, the home inspector can pinpoint the house’s problems so they can decide to fix them or not before putting the house on the market. An inspection allows a seller to post detailed and accurate information about the house’s condition and avoid wasting time for both seller and buyer.

An important point is whether the home inspector can provide sufficiently detailed and trustworthy information.

How do you judge the quality of a home inspector?

  • Recommendation: A home inspector who is an accredited member of a credible association or recommended from former customers.
  • Experience: It takes several years to master this job. How much time have they invested? Home inspectors who have a professional background related to housing, engeneering or another technical field is a plus.
  • No conflicts of interest: If, after checking the house, the inspector should not offer to repair the customer’s house, or sell them equipment. A home inspector is only responsible for pointing out the condition of the house, and detecting errors and issues.
  • Analyzing ability: A skilled inspector is responsible for not only identifying dangerous, costly problems, but also explaining drawbacks, estimating the repair time of that situation, and pointing out solutions, including the level of urgency, priority and cost estimates.

Normally we will see two types of reports. The first type is a checklist of problems. This form is often difficult for the reader to understand if there is no further oral explanation. It does not mean that this kind of service is not good. This report type is cheaper because it can be completed quickly and is good for customers who are familiar with home repairs. The second is a report with photos of the faults, along with images that show the right conditions for those areas. This helps the reader compare the differences and gives customers a clear picture so they can understand ​the problems more easily. This report is more detailed and takes longer to complete, so prices are higher.

What are some common problems?
Do you have some suggestions for readers?

Depending on location, age of the house, and the owners’ purpose for the building, the house will have various problems. For example, when renovating basement, it is usually a lack of ventilation for the furnace room, three-ways-light for the staircase, and unbalanced heat or using materials that have are not up to code and can easily cause fire such as attatching a vent pipe for dryers. Old houses usually lack electrical safety, have problems with building material recall, or have evironmental isues with materials such as asbestos. Depending on the house there will be different issues.

The warm season is better for checking roofs, lot grading, A/C systems, and foundation leakage. In the cold, it is better to check heating systems.

No matter what, it is a good idea to get a home inspection.

This content is also available in: Tiếng Việt

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This content is also available in: Tiếng Việt