If you’re buying a house, you have the right to hire a home inspector that will check it out and make sure it’s in decent shape. To ensure you get the most out of your home inspection here are some questions to ask.

“What is actually covered in a home inspection”?

Each home inspection company is different and offer different packages that cover different items. Some are general home inspectors, while others are licensed structural engineers. Your real estate agent should be able to recommend several different ones for you.

“What do home inspectors check”?

Home inspectors are restricted to a visual inspection only. For example, they can’t cut a hole in somebody’s wall. Based on what they see, they may recommend a specific licensed professional such as a roofer, HVAC person or electrician to come back and do a more detailed examination.

It’s also important to understand that they’re looking at what exists in the house the day of the inspection. They cannot predict the future. Here is a list of items a general home inspector looks at.

  • Structural inspection / cracks in walls, brick, rock, attic framing, joists.
  • Signs of water damage – such as warped walls and sloping floors.
  • Adequate water pressure. Is a pressure test recommended?
  • Issues with major components (e.g. furnace, water heater). Are they in “normal working order”.
  • Leaks (outside faucets, under sinks, tub/shower drains).

“Can I come to the inspection”?

Any good inspector and real estate agent will want you, the prospective owners to be present at the inspection. Seeing somebody explain you’re houses systems and how they work, will always be more valuable than reading a report, and it gives you the opportunity to ask questions and get clarifications in the moment.

“How long will the inspection take”?

Inspections often take place during the workweek, and without the seller present. The sellers’ agent may be there though. Knowing how much time you’ll need to block out will keep you from having to rush through the inspection to get back to the office. Most inspections last 1 1/2 – 2 hours for a group of inspectors up to half a day for a solo inspector. It will also depend on the condition of the house.

“Is this a major or minor issue”?

For most people, people buying real estate is the biggest purchase they’ll ever make. It’s not uncommon to get worried over terms like “foundation issues” or “roof problems”. In most cases, though, these issues aren’t as intimidating as they seem.

The important question to ask a home inspector is whether the issues is major or minor. By doing this, you could end up asking the seller to make a $100 repair rather than backing out of the deal of a lifetime.

After the inspection

At the end of the inspection, the inspector(s) should give you, a summary of what was found. You’ll get a written report usually 24-48 hours later, but this time is a great moment to get clarity on what the inspector thinks are the house’s biggest issues, and whether they need further investigation. Your official home inspection report will have more details along with photos.

You should walk away from inspection day with a mental punch list of things that need to be addressed by either the seller or another expert before closing and what you can do after the purchase. In some states, there’s a limited amount of time for these negotiations to happen, so you and your agent will need to act quickly. In Oklahoma, the standard timeframe is 10 days to complete all inspections and turn in a TRR (treatment, repair, replacement) form.