Behind The Scenes Episode 2
Behind The Scenes Episode 2
What Is A Home Inspection?
Behind The Scenes S1E02 - What Is A Home Inspection?
In the second episode of Behind The Scenes, Aaron Janus goes on location to attend two home inspections with our preferred home inspector, Jeff Longaker of Inspection Services Northwest. After the inspections, Aaron goes back to the office to explain exactly what happens after the inspection.
Below is a rough transcript of the video, which consists of a conversation between Seattle Realtor Aaron Janus and Seattle home inspector Jeff Longaker.
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Aaron Janus, Seattle Realtor:
Curious about what goes down during a home inspection? Well, let's find out.
Welcome to another episode of Behind The Scenes.
Alright on today's show we are going to be Behind The Scenes with our inspector Jeff from Inspection Services Northwest. We're actually going to be tagging along with him on two different inspections. So let's get right to it. Let's introduce Jeff.
Alright on today's show we're here with our favorite inspector, Jeff with Inspection Services Northwest. Jeff, we've been working together for what over 12 years now?
Jeff Longaker, Seattle Home Inspector:
Great. Jeff, tell everybody about you.
I've been inspecting, like Aaron said, for about 12 years. I love my job, it allows me to meet people and see different areas so it's very interesting work.
So before we actually get into the nuts and bolts of the home inspection, why don't we talk about what is a home inspection and why you might need one?
So a home inspection is something that you can do before making an offer on a home, after making an offer, or you could be a seller in fact doing an inspection before listing home. We're not going to focus on that piece today. Today we're going to talk about the inspection that we do either before making an offer or after being under contract. Whether you're doing a pre-offer inspection or a post-offer inspection, it's the same. What you are looking for are defects in the home. What you're looking for are things that weren't readily apparent when you first took a look at the home, things that maybe weren't disclosed, maybe the seller didn't know about them, but you're looking for material defects in the home. That's what a home inspection is for. Purchasing a home is a huge investment. So spending the time and money upfront to make sure you know what you're getting into when you purchase the home is a good investment. Let's start with the logistics. How do you choose your inspector? Fact is, most buyers don't know a home inspector, so they're relying on their real estate agent to refer one to them. We've used lots of home inspectors over the years, we really love Jeff over at Inspection Services Northwest. Now, of course, buyers, it's always their decision who they use. But I refer Jeff out whenever I can. So as you'll see throughout this video, he's very thorough, he's got a great approach to everything, explains things really well and concisely and he's just a good guy.
So what happens whether you're doing this pre-offer or post-offer, we will call and schedule the inspection. Usually, we need a couple of days lead time, but sometimes we can get an inspection scheduled at the last minute. And then what happens? We're looking at about anywhere between two and a half and four hours for an inspection. Let's say on average they're about three hours. You, as the buyer, don't have to be there the entire time if you don't want to be. As the real estate agent, here in Washington state, we have to be there the entire time. But regardless, as long as you're there, for the last 45 minutes, that's the most important because that's where the inspector is walking you through everything that he found during the home inspection. Now, of course, you can be there the whole time, and some buyers choose to be, but that depends on your schedule.
So how much does a home inspection cost? There's a pretty good range depending on the size, and the condition, and the style of the home, but you can generally plan on between $500 and $700.
What can you expect to walk away with after the inspection? Well in our case, Jeff will take you through a complete summary at the end of the inspection and point out everything that he found. He'll also let you know, what's a big deal, and what's NOT a big deal. The next morning you'll receive a 75 page inspection report that is loaded with all kinds of great information. But the key thing is you're walking away with peace of mind. You're knowing what you're getting into, or maybe what you have decided not to get into in some cases.
So, why don't we dive into this inspection right now and see what we find?
So Jeff, can you just briefly take us through the process you're going through when you're doing a home inspection.
So the big thing you want to be concerned about is water, especially where we live in the Pacific Northwest, we get a lot of water. We start on the exterior, start with the roof, do the siding, all the grounds, cement work, and then move to the inside, do the mechanicals. And at that time we're looking at the foundation from the outside and from the inside, and then we have a thermal camera which we're looking for plumbing and roof leaks, and then we do note anything that's a safety concern, like hand railings and trip hazards and things for people to be aware of. And then we do the kitchens and baths and I run a lot of water, trying to cut uncover leaks. I'm just basically making sure that the home buyer understands where all of the controls are and how to operate the house, actually.
Okay, let's talk about what is included in a home inspection. A home inspector is going to get in there and look at and test every major system in the home. He's going to start at the roof he's going to end in the crawl space or basement and he's going to look at everything. He's going to look at the quality and condition of the roof. He's going to look in the attic. He's going to check out the electrical system. He's going to test all the plumbing. He will literally turn on every plumbing fixture in the house and flood the system and then go into the crawl space and see if there are any leaks. Obviously, he's going to be looking at the HVAC system. He's going to check the foundation, the crawl space, all the major systems.
Now, these inspections are not intrusive. In other words, they're not cutting open the drywall and looking inside the walls to see what's going on. And one of the reasons that I love working with Jeff is that he uses thermal imaging cameras, which really does allow them to look inside the walls. It's looking at the temperature differential, so you can see if there's missing insulation. You can see water leaks because the wet areas inside the wall are going to be much cooler. So a lot of really great things can be done with that just to give you, the home buyer, a much better insight into what you're purchasing.
Alright, one of the many reasons that we use Jeff to do our home inspections is this. Thermal imaging cameras. It's the only way to really look inside the wall, right?
Yeah, we're getting the heat signature here. Plumbing issues or roof leaks would show up as a darker area, or it could be missing insulation, and I have to investigate this. See all that?
Okay, so that dark - the dark means that it's colder, right?
Right, so we'll see if that's missing insulation or a roof leak because we're very close to the chimney. That's so you can tell that it's missing insulation, it's square.
Moisture would be round - rounder.
Yeah, less defined, kind of a soft edge. So it's worth checking.
Now a good home inspection is going to cover a lot of things, but it's not going to cover everything.
Some examples of things that the home inspector won't cover are swimming pools and saunas, sprinkler systems, alarm systems, oubliettes, tree forts, tanning beds. There are things like septic systems and sewers that they don't inspect which are going to be an additional inspection. Now a septic system is actually going to be on the seller to have an inspection, we can talk more about that at a later time. But a sewer scope, particularly if it's an older home in the city of Seattle, you're likely going to want to get a sewer scope and that's going be done at the same time as the home inspection, hopefully, but it's not the same inspection, it's a separate inspector and a separate cost.
Okay now the inspection's over and we've got the report in our hands: now what?
Well, it depends. If you remember at the beginning we talked about there being two types of inspections, there's a pre-offer inspection, which we just call pre-inspection, or a normal inspection where you're under contract and you have a home inspection contingency.
In the case of a pre-inspection, which you may need in a market like we have right now, which is very competitive, you're doing the inspection before even writing the offer and you're doing that because the inspection contingency itself is a bigger risk for the seller. It's probably one of the biggest risks when they're looking at offers with different contingencies in it, the inspection contingency allows you as a buyer really the opportunity to get out of the contract with no cure. Without giving the seller the opportunity to cure anything. So that's why when we're in a competitive situation, doing that inspection before writing the offer produces a much stronger offer. So, if you're in that situation now you've done the inspection and you have the report.
Really, you can look at it as a punch list now. You know everything that is going on with the house. If you choose to move forward with that offer, we're really not going to be able to negotiate anything or ask for anything to be done, but you can use that information to craft your offer. In other words, if you were planning on offering X, maybe now that you have this inspection you're going to offer X minus this because there are going to be these things that you're going to need to do. But essentially, it's just there for your information so you can have some peace of mind, if you get the house and you close on it, you'll know what's going to be coming down the road.
Okay, in the case of a normal inspection, and by normal I mean, we're already under contract to purchase a home and we have an inspection contingency built into the offer. We do the inspection, we have the report at hand and now we have some choices. First of all during that initial inspection period, you know, you're given anywhere from a few to up to 10 days to do all the inspections that you would like to do. So, to do the home inspection, do the sewer scope, you know, maybe have a specialist come out. This is probably a good point to note, too, you have this initial inspection period. There's also, oftentimes, built into that are these additional inspections. Meaning if we have five days to do an inspection and we have the inspector comes there on day three and he says, "hey, I really recommend that you have a foundation specialist come and take a look at this" we can invoke that additional inspection time to have somebody come out and take a look at that. So these are all going to be very dependent on the particular offer that you've written, but suffice it to say you have the inspection report in hand and other some choices to make.
So there's basically four different things that you can do.
Option 1: Invoke Additional Inspections (see above)
Option 2: Move Forward Toward Closing
We did the inspection, we approve it we're off to closing. So you're not asking for anything, you're saying everything's a-okay, and you move on.
Option 3: The next option you have is to walk away. You did the inspection, it's a hot mess and you say "I don't want it." So we go back to the seller and we terminate the agreement, and that's it. You don't lose your earnest money, as long as we're within that inspection period. That's it, done deal.
Option 4: And yet another option is for us to ask the seller to make repairs or modifications. Now that we're armed with our inspection report and we have all the data that we need, we use that to formulate a request. And so maybe we ask them to do X, Y, and Z. Alternatively, we don't have to ask them to actually make repairs, we can ask for either a credit toward closing costs or a reduction of the purchase price. We can talk about the pros and cons of that when it comes to your particular transaction, but those are the options that we have with the inspection report.
So once in a while, somebody will ask me "when do I not do a home inspection?" and the answer to that is: when you're going to tear the house down. That is literally the only time you would not want to do a home inspection. It doesn't matter if it's a condo, new construction, it's just been inspected by the city -- none of that matters. It's a huge investment, always do a home inspection.
So, Jeff, you've been on thousands of inspections?
Yeah, probably five or six thousand.
Five or six thousand. That's crazy. So, what is the what's the craziest thing you've ever seen during a home inspection?
I actually found a dead seal in a crawl space.
Because the house was right next to the water, and they had a really high tide, and the seal washed in there, and it was not smelling well.
Oh my goodness, a dead seal. Okay, I don't think we're going to find a dead seal here on Phinney Ridge, but if we do you, can bet we're going to take a video of it.
Thank you everyone for watching another episode of Behind The Scenes, we hope you enjoyed it and found it informative. As always, if you have any real estate related questions, please don't hesitate to reach out. And, if you have any feedback about our series Behind The Scenes or any other content we put out, we would love to hear your feedback, so thank you so much and take care.
House Goals Realized. JanusGroup at RE/MAX Integrity.
See more videos in the Behind The Scenes series!
Schedule an appointment to discuss your goals.