After reading what I just wrote, know that it is possible to get TOO involved in the inspection. While following at a respectful distance and giving the pro room to do their job is absolutely acceptable, sticking your nose in every crevice and getting in the way is most definitely not. If you get in the way or distract the inspector overmuch by asking too many banal questions, your pro could accidentally miss something because their attention was drawn away. Let the inspector do their job. That also means that you shouldn’t try to “help” or do your own exploration – you don’t need a personal look at the water pressure or how the appliances run, and trying to peek and poke could actually mess up what the inspector is doing. If, for example, you are running the water in the kitchen sink while the inspector is checking out the master shower, it could mess up the system’s response time.
Here’s something I can promise you: every inspection is going to turn up several issues. There may be as many as fifty to one hundred of these on a totally normal report, with very few of them constituting anything major. There are buyers who get reactionary when they see a report, not realizing the depth and breadth of intensity it encompasses, and get negative on a house that is actually perfectly fine, barring a few repairs. Every house has its issues. Sometimes they are biggies, in which case you go back to the negotiating table with the sellers to either perform the fix before the sale, or lower the selling price accordingly. But many will be minor blemishes that aren’t urgent at all. This is why it’s critical to go over the inspection report with your inspector at the time that the job is done, so that you can ask as many questions as you need to feel comfortable and figure out what really demands your attention.
Like I just said, not all items on an inspection report carry equal weight. What you really want to look out for are the serious red flags: problems with the roof, foundation, HVAC system, or any other major component of your home that is necessary and would be expensive to repair. When you have the inspector’s attention, these are the things you want to talk about. Cracked outlet covers? Not so much. You’d be surprised how you can knock “deficiencies” off by the dozens just by taking a list to Home Depot and giving the house a weekend’s worth of attention. Needing a new roof, however, can absolutely be considered a deal-breaker. The key is to focus on what’s important and not get hung up and sour on a perfectly good home just because there’s a laundry list of cosmetic or otherwise piddly “defects.” After the inspection, you are very likely to end up back at the negotiating table with the sellers asking for concessions in the form of repairs. Check into the estimated cost of every issue you are going to dispute, so that you don’t end up looking picky and unpleasant and risk exasperating the sellers.
If you have asked the buyers to perform repairs based on the results of the home inspection, for the love of everything holy, follow up on the job! Let’s take roofing issues, for example. You negotiated with the sellers and they promised to perform critical repairs on the roof prior to closing. However, they went with a shoddy roofing company that did a half-ass job, and in six months you are going to have leaks in your living room. Major fail. The experts will tell you that seldom are all the negotiated repairs actually completed up to the level promised. For your own peace of mind, if nothing else, make sure that the work done is quality and actually brings the house up to the standards that you expect.
Now you have a better idea of how NOT to mess up a home inspection as a buyer. I know that the inspection comes along at a frustrating part of the buying process, but you have to hang in a little bit longer and make sure that the job is complete.