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So, your offer to buy your dream home just got accepted by the Seller and everything is looking good now. What’s next? Even if you’re buying a brand new place or the property is in what appears to be “top shape”, your best bet will be to order a professional Inspection right away. Whether you will be residing in the property or not, you will want to make sure that this is a safe place to live at and/or a great investment without any future surprise costs to you. First, check your Purchase Contract or ask your Realtor about the number of days that are specified and permitted for the property to be inspected (usually the first 7 or 15 days). Note that, even for an “AS IS” contract, you also have the right to an Inspection and it is recommended that a qualified inspector conducts a thorough home evaluation.

It is recommended that you are present during the inspection so that you can better understand the entire process and also be able to ask any questions. During this examination of the property’s physical condition, one or more professional inspectors will initially look for damage or defects in the building’s structure. For houses or townhomes, the surroundings will be examined for issues concerning grading and drainage. Then, systems and physical components including roof, plumbing, electrical & cooling/heating systems, floors, foundation, surfaces, walls & paint, doors and windows will be checked. The Inspector(s) will also look to detect possible pest infestations, dry rot or similar damage. You will also have the option to perform additional services such as a mold inspection. The following list will give an example with a bit more detail on each inspected category:


EXTERIOR: wall damage/cracks, foundation issues/cracks/settling, grading slopes away from house to prevent water damage, drainage system, garage/carport, garage door/framing/ventilation,

ROOF: type, approximate age, average estimated life expectancy, general condition, gravel stop, drip edge, valley metal, flashings, gutters, parapet wall, facia board & soffit sheathings & rafters, and leak marks on plaster inside.

WOOD DESTROYING ORGANISMS (WDO): visible signs, evidence, damage.

NOTICES OF INSPECTION & TREATMENT INFORMATION: if structure exhibits evidence of previous treatment or if any notices of previous inspections have been affixed to the property.

ELECTRICAL: service entrance cable, cable type/size/capacity, main panel, ground, distribution wire and circuits, outlets/fixtures, smoke detectors.

AIR CONDITIONING: wired properly, low (suction) side pressure, (return) pressure, fan, motor, external coil, internal coil, filter, pressures & temperatures at each of the registers, leaks in the duct work, overall cooling, maintenance.

APPLIANCES: refrigerator, freezer, ice maker, garbage disposal, dishwasher, clothing washer, compactor, dryer, exhaust fan, oven, burners, water heater.

PLUMBING, KITCHEN & BATHROOMS: water service pipes, interior pipes, water discharge, waste pipes, waste disposal, hot water heater, bathroom cabinets/toilet/tub/bidet/fan/sink/faucet/traps/shower pan/window/mirror, kitchen cabinets.

One or two days after the property’s physical evaluation, you should receive a final report containing a detailed checklist of what was examined, what was found, and estimates of required and/or suggested repairs. Depending on the type of your purchase contract and its terms & contingencies, you could then decide to ask the Seller for repairs, negotiate, or walk away from the deal if there are major damages or disagreements that cannot or will not be resolved. However, it is very important for you to differentiate between severe issues and minor problems or defects; as many times the Inspectors exaggerate a bit on insignificant details and it is not a good idea to obsess or compromise the entire deal with these.

Finally, the cost for an inspection should be between $300 and $600 depending on the services requested. This is truly a very low cost given the problems, money and headaches it can save you from. Thus, always make it a priority to have your new acquisition inspected as soon as possible.