Building Code, Quality of Construction, and the Home Inspection – Part 1

This 4-part series will help buyers set and maintain realistic expectations about the home they are purchasing.  Part 1 will cover the home inspection process.

Building Code, Quality of Construction & Home Inspection – Part 1

Part 1. The Home Inspection Process 

Part of the process of purchasing a home is the home inspection. The home inspection is for the benefit of the buyer, and it is a buyer expense. The purpose of the home inspection is to discover any defects in the home. The inspection will also allow the buyer to become familiar with all aspects of their new home and learn about items they will want to pay attention to in the future. I call it the “get acquainted with your home” portion of the inspection. These are not major defects that the seller will have to address, but they are things that may require maintenance or be nearing their end-of-life. 

The role of your home inspector 

The inspector performs a vital function identifying “major defects” that the seller may need to correct. During the inspection, the inspector may also point out maintenance items to the buyer and things that an expert should examine.  

To get the most from your home inspection, read this article from Realtor.com. It includes a timeline of queries to hit before the inspection even starts, during the actual home inspection, and well after it’s over.

The home inspector as a professional becomes liable for the things they say and do, but typically they are a generalist; they are not necessarily a specialist at any one thing. When they observe something that requires evaluation by a specialist, they will recommend that. For example, suppose the inspector notices a moldy substance. In that case, he will identify it as microbial growth and suggest that an environmental engineer investigate further. He is not licensed to determine what it is and if it is harmful. 

Major defect vs. minor imperfection; not all major defects are major

Some smaller items, like a broken window seal, are still considered major defects even though the repair cost is insignificant.

A major defect relates to a product or material not functioning as intended.  

  • For example, a bad batch of concrete used in the home’s foundation could eventually cause the building to collapse. A foundation repair could be a significant expense and cause the buyer to decide not to proceed. 
  • A broken window seal is another major defect because it causes the window not to perform as intended, but the repair cost is insignificant.  
  • Is your dryer vented to the outside? Many were never correctly installed and are venting to an enclosed space. This is a major defect, and the seller will have to vent the dryer correctly to the outside.  
  • Cracks in caulking around the tub is not a major defect, but a good home inspector will point it out and suggest you pay attention. Water can penetrate and eventually cause significant problems. 

The item’s cost to be repaired or replaced is not the issue; it’s the definition. “Major” doesn’t mean expensive to repair or replace. A major defect relates to a product or material not functioning as intended.  

Bottom line

Buyers’ expectations of a home inspection process are often not realistic. The purpose is not to create an adversarial situation. Unless disclosed, the sellers may not be aware of underlying defects. Buyers think a home inspection is to make sure the home is perfect; no home is perfect.

Our advice? Read the entire report. The report contains essential information; it is not just a laundry list of items to put into a request for repairs.  

In Part 2 of this series, we will discuss building code and its impact on the sale of your home. 

Let’s connect to guide you through the home buying process, including the Home Inspection.