How to Look

at a House


A blog with answers
to your questions about
HOME INSPECTION
and HOME MAINTENANCE

Welcome to our blog!
We want you to be an informed homebuyer, and each blog post is a question that we have answered for our friends and customers over the years. Hope they help you make a good choice for your next home.

  1. TECH TALK OVERLOAD - Home inspection reports are loaded with technical jargon that can make defects appear more onerous than they are. Take, for example, the common defect “reversed polarity at wall receptacle.” Sounds serious, but means that two wires were installed backwards, and takes just a couple of minutes for an electrician to fix. If the report doesn’t offer a clear explanation of the significance of a defect, ask the inspector for clarification. And if you get even more obtuse words, say you want to get an explanation in simple English.

  2. LONG LIST OF MINOR STUFF - Sometimes we issue a report with a list of thirty defects, which covers two pages in the summary and looks a bit overwhelming. But, on further examination, twenty-eight of them are simple things like a missing cover plate at an electric receptacle or leaves backing up the gutter. Sort through your report and focus on the big items when making a decision.

   Then again, here are two reasons to walk away and start looking for another home:

  1. EXPENSIVE REPAIR, BUT EXACT COST UNKNOWN - If the repair required is a big deal, but the exact cost can’t be determined until after further exploration inside the walls or underground after you own the home, you have to decide how much risk you are willing to accept. It becomes a gamble. Most repairs end up costing about ten to twenty percent more than the original ball-park estimate anyway, but an open-ended repair cost is a good reason to be scared.

  2. COST OF HOUSE + REPAIRS = MORE THAN COST OF COMPARABLE HOUSE IN GOOD CONDITION. A fixer-upper with a low price tag can be alluring, but do your math carefully. Buying a house for $120,000 when comparable houses in good condition nearby are selling for $160,000 is not a good deal if the home requires $50,000 worth of repairs and can’t be occupied for two months while being remodeled.

   Probably most important of all, give yourself enough time after the home inspection to reflect on the issues uncovered and maybe get a few contractor estimates. Try to avoid having the inspection on the ninth day of a ten-day inspection period, for example.

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  To learn more valuable strategies for getting the best possible home inspection, here’s a few of our other blog posts:

  1. How can I make sure I don’t get screwed on my home inspection?

  2. Should I trust the Seller’s Property Disclosure Statement?

  3. Can I do my own home inspection?

  4. How can homebuyers protect themselves against buying a home over a sinkhole?

  5. What makes a house fail the home inspection?

  6. The seller gave me an old home inspection report from a previous home inspection. Should I use it or get my own inspector?

  7. Why are expired building permits a problem for both the buyer and seller of a home?   

    To read about issues related to homes of particular type or one built in a specific decade, visit one of these blog posts:

  1. What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1950s house?

  2. What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1960s home?

  3. What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1970s house?

  4. What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1980s house?

  5. What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1990s house?

  6. What problems should I look for when buying a country house or rural property?

  7. What problems should I look when when buying a house that has been moved?

  8. What problems should I look for when buying a house that has been vacant or abandoned?

  9. What are the most common problems with older mobile homes?

  10. What should I look for when buying a “flipper” house?

  11. What should I look for when buying a former rental house?

While we hope you find this series of articles about home inspection helpful, they should not be considered an alternative to an actual home inspection by a local inspector. Also, construction standards vary in different parts of the country and it is possible that important issues related to your area may not be covered here.
© McGarry and Madsen Inspection

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More Blog Posts on Similar Subjects:

  1. Should a home inspection scare you?

  2. What is the difference between an appraisal and a home inspection?

  3. Are you licensed and insured?

  4. We looked at the house carefully, and it seems alright. Do we really need a home inspection?

  5. Is a home inspection required?

  6. Should I be there for the inspection?

  7. What tools do you use for a home inspection?

  8. Is it common for an insurance company to require an inspection?

  9. The seller has to fix everything you find wrong with the house, right?

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  11. Is it still possible to do an inspection if there’s no electricity or water?

  12. What’s the difference between a roof inspection and a roofing estimate?

  13. Should I hire an engineer to inspect the house?

  14. Do inspectors go on the roof? Do they get in the attic?

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  16. What happens at a home inspection?

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  19. What are the questions a home inspector won’t answer?

  20. What is the difference between a building inspector and a home inspector?

  21. What do I need to know about buying a 1950s house?

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  28. Should I get a home inspection before signing a contract to buy the house?

  29. Can a home inspector do repairs to a house after doing the inspection?

  30. What is a “continuous load path”?

  31. When did the first Florida Building Code (FBC) begin and become effective?

  32. Should I only hire an inspector that is a member of a national association like ASHi, InterNACHI, or NAHI?

  33. What is a “cosmetic” defect in a home inspection?

  34. Where are the funny home inspection pictures?

  35. Should I follow the inspector around during the inspection?

  36. Why do realtors call some home inspectors “deal killers”?

  37. How can I reduce the risk of an expensive surprise when buying a house sight unseen?

  38. Does my home have to be inspected to get insurance?

  39. Who should pay for the home inspection?

  40. Can you do a home inspection in the rain?

  41. What are the most Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) at a home inspection?

  42. What are the common causes of ceiling stains in a house?

  43. Do home inspectors inspect outbuildings?

  44. What inspections does a bank or mortgage lender need for loan approval?

  45. Should I buy a house that has been remodeled/renovated without building permits or has open permits?