The home inspection is one of the contingencies that give you the right to demand renovations or repairs to the property, or to cancel the transaction if: 1) a problem is uncovered which is of such significant severity that you do not wish to proceed with the purchase, or 2) you cannot reach an agreement with the Seller(s) on the renovations/repairs you require to correct it.

You will typically have 10-12 days to exercise your rights under the contingency.

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Before you start contacting prospective home inspectors, it is critical you know what inspections and tests will be required by your lender and/or loan program. You will need to ask the inspector whether they provide all of the inspections / tests you will require.

Your loan officer / mortgage broker will know which lender and loan program you have been pre-qualified for, and which inspection(s) / test(s) they will require. Be certain to ask your loan officer these questions before interviewing home inspectors, because not every inspector conducts every test.

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You don’t want to get to the property on inspection day, only to find out the inspector isn’t qualified to inspect the septic system… or doesn’t conduct the radon air test!

Start calling prospective inspectors the day after your contract is fully executed (that is to say, the day after all sellers and buyers have signed the P&S). Interview them. Find someone who can conduct all of the inspections and tests that will be required. Then get him or her out to the house as quickly as can be arranged.

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During that 10-12 day time period you will need to:

  • contact the inspector;
  • schedule a date for the inspection (you SHOULD attend the home inspection);
  • have your REALTOR ensure the Seller(s) can make the home available for the inspection at the proposed date/time;
  • conduct the inspection;
  • obtain the inspection report (which can take up to three days, depending on the inspector’s schedule);
  • forward a copy of the report to your REALTOR;
  • review the report and discuss it with your REALTOR; and
  • h) either release the inspection contingency (if everything looks satisfactory) or present your demand(s) for renovation(s)/repair(s) to the Seller(s).

Ten to twelve days may seem like a lot of time… but, it isn’t. There is a lot to do… especially if it takes several days to get the inspector out to the property.

Who should you choose to perform your home inspection?

First and foremost, make certain your inspector is certified – it ensures they have committed themselves to the requisite amount of training and continuing education. Codes change constantly: certification is dependent upon the inspector “keeping up with” those changes.

The home inspection

Then, call the prospective inspector(s) and ask the questions you need to ask to ensure you are getting the right inspector for YOUR property:

Did you purchase a home on a municipal utility system (water and sewer), or do you need an inspector who will also be required to inspect the well, leach field and septic tank (to ensure they are functioning properly)? Does he/she perform those inspections?

Will your lender require you to have the water tested? (NOTE: some lenders may not require testing, whereas other lenders or loan programs will require different types of water tests, ie a standard water test vs an FHA spectrum)?

Will your loan program require a pest inspection be performed (carpenter ants, termites, etc)?

Will you have the water and air tested for the presence of radon? (NOTE: if you have children in the home you will almost certainly want to do this regardless of whether the loan program requires it, as radon is a carcinogen that can have serious long-term impact on young children).

The home inspection

Will the inspector get on the roof to inspect it?

Do they have the requisite knowledge to properly inspect residential heating and central air conditioning systems (if one is present)?

Okay, but “WHO?”, you ask.

A good place to start is with your REALTOR, who should have significant experience with one or more individuals/companies in your area. Other excellent resources include your state licensing board (in New Hampshire, the Office of Professional Licensure and Certification… oplc.nh.gov) and/or the National Association of Certified Home Inspectors (nachi.org).

One final note regarding the home inspection contingency: it was put in place to provide the Buyer with the opportunity to address property conditions that were not known, or could not have reasonably been known, prior to entering into the contract to purchase (ie, the septic inspection uncovers the distribution box is not functioning properly and needs to be repaired). The contingency is not intended to enable the Buyer to renegotiate the terms of sale (ie, the visible crack in the foundation was known to you before you made your original offer, or should have been known to you at the time… the fact the home inspector has mentioned the crack in his report is not a valid reason for demanding the Seller repair the crack or reduce the sale price prior to closing).

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