So you’ve found your dream home in Milwaukee and you’re ready to make an offer! But before you sign on the dotted line, it’s crucial to get a certified home inspection. A thorough inspection by a qualified home inspector can give you peace of mind that you’re not buying a money pit. Here’s what to expect during a certified home inspection in Milwaukee.
Scheduling the Inspection
Once your offer is accepted, you’ll want to schedule the inspection as soon as possible. It’s best to inspect the home during the contingency period in your purchase agreement, which is usually 7-10 days. This gives you time to review the inspection report and ask the sellers to make repairs if needed.
You’ll want to be present during the inspection so you can follow along and ask questions. Make sure to request a certified inspector who is experienced inspecting homes in Milwaukee. Look for members of professional organizations like the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) or InterNACHI.
Expect to pay $300-$500 for a full inspection that lasts 2-3 hours on average for a typical single family home. Additional fees may apply for very large homes, condos, or homes requiring specialized tests.
What the Inspector Will Check
A thorough home inspection in Milwaukee will examine all physical aspects of the home from top to bottom, inside and out. Here are some of the major systems and areas inspectors focus on:
- Roof: An inspector will evaluate the roof’s age, condition, and remaining life. They’ll look for damaged or missing shingles, sagging, indicates of leaks, and proper ventilation.
- Exterior: The home’s siding, trim, paint, windows, doors, decks, and other exterior components will be examined for damage, wear and tear, and water intrusion. Proper grading to prevent water pooling near the foundation is checked.
- Structure: An inspector will evaluate the foundation for cracks or shifting and look for sagging floors, walls out of plumb, and other signs of structural issues. Ceilings are checked for stains that may indicate leaks.
- Electrical: Inspectors test a sample of outlets, switches, and light fixtures for proper operation and check the electrical panel and wiring for safety issues like overloading or improper installations. Grounding is tested.
- Plumbing: Pipes, fixtures, water pressure, drainage, water heaters, and other plumbing components are examined for leaks, corrosion, improper materials, and other defects.
- Heating and cooling: The furnace, air conditioner, heat pump, and ductwork are all inspected to evaluate age, capacity, and proper functioning. Filters, thermostats, insulation, and ventilation are checked.
- Interior: Walls, ceilings, floors, doors, cabinets, countertops, built-in appliances, and other interior finishes are inspected for damage, wear and moisture issues. Smoke and CO detectors are tested.
- Garage: The garage door and opener, firewall separation from the home, and auto-reverse safety mechanisms will all be examined.
- Ventilation/insulation: Inspectors will check for adequate insulation, moisture barriers, and ventilation in attics and unfinished basements. They may do thermal imaging to check for hidden moisture.
- Pool/spa: If the property has a pool or hot tub, the vessel integrity, pumps, heaters, covers, gates, drains and electrical will be examined.
What Isn’t Covered in a Home Inspection
While home inspections are very thorough, there are several things that are not within the scope of a typical inspection:
- Evaluating property boundary lines or encroachments
- Testing for mold, radon, lead paint or asbestos
- Assessing soil conditions or geological stability
- Determining termite/pest infestation (this requires a separate pest inspection)
- Evaluating cosmetic flaws or decorative finishes
- Assessing home security systems, low voltage lighting, or lawn sprinkler systems
- Determining quality or condition of detached structures like sheds and garages
- Evaluating pool or spa mechanical systems like filtration and cleaning
- Checking permit history or evaluating code compliance
If you need an evaluation of any of these items, additional specialized inspections will be required beyond the general home inspection.
What to Expect in the Inspection Report
Once the on-site inspection is complete, you’ll receive a detailed written report summarizing the inspector’s findings. This will include descriptions and photos of any deficiencies noted, an evaluation of the condition of major systems, and recommendations for repairs.
The report will call out major defects, safety concerns, and items needing immediate repair. Minor flaws like worn finishes or light cosmetic issues likely won’t be noted unless they indicate a larger underlying problem.
Don’t be alarmed if the report seems long! Most inspection reports will identify some issues, even in newer homes. A long report doesn’t necessarily mean the home is a lemon. Focus on the major findings that require repair. Also, keep in mind that no home is perfect. Minor repairs and flaws are to be expected on any pre-owned property.
If you don’t understand something in the report, schedule a follow-up call with the inspector to discuss. They can explain technical terms and priorities for repair.
Negotiating Repairs After the Inspection
If the inspection reveals items needing repair, you’ll have an opportunity to request the sellers make these repairs prior to closing. This negotiation is common, so don’t worry about offending the sellers with an inspection-based request.
Focus your requests on major defects, safety concerns, violations of code, and items affecting livability. For minor flaws or regular maintenance issues, you may opt to assume responsibility rather than asking sellers for repair.
Provide the sellers with a copy of the inspection report and a prioritized list of requested repairs. Set a deadline for the sellers to respond with a list of items they are willing to address. If remodeling is required, ask for upgrades to be done by licensed contractors with permits on file.
Be prepared to negotiate! The sellers may push back on certain requests or offer a repair credit rather than completing the work prior to closing. Stay firm on requests addressing major issues but be flexible on minor flaws. Securing repairs on big-ticket items is wise.
If you and the sellers can’t agree on repairs, you may need to walk away from the deal. Your real estate agent can help strategize next steps. Don’t waive your inspection contingency unless you’re comfortable buying the home as-is.
Why a Home Inspection is So Important
While home inspections add one more step to the real estate transaction, they provide invaluable information that can save you from expensive surprises down the road. Don’t skip this important process just to expedite closing.
Here are some key benefits of getting a certified home inspection in Milwaukee:
- Avoids hidden issues: Inspections often reveal defects not visible to the untrained eye like early roof leaks, faulty wiring, or foundation cracks hidden under finishes.
- Identifies safety hazards: Inspectors may discover safety issues like fire risks, electrical issues, or carbon monoxide leaks that could endanger your family.
- Allows informed negotiations: The inspection gives you a clearer picture of the home’s true condition so you can negotiate repairs or price concessions from a position of knowledge.
- Provides a maintenance roadmap: The report serves as a guide for future repairs and upgrades you’ll need to budget for over time.
- Offers peace of mind: Most buyers sleep much easier knowing they have a third-party evaluation of their expensive investment!
While inspections do add extra time and money up front, they can prevent disastrous surprises later on. The several hundred dollar investment is well worth it for the invaluable insights you’ll gain.
Finding the Right Home Inspector in Milwaukee
Choosing the right home inspector is key to getting a thorough, unbiased evaluation of the property. Here are tips for finding a great inspector in Milwaukee:
- Check for certifications: Look for inspectors accredited by InterNACHI or ASHI to ensure proper training and adherence to standards.
- Read online reviews: Check sites like Yelp and Google to see feedback from past clients on inspectors’ thoroughness, reporting, and responsiveness.
- Ask about experience: Look for inspectors who have inspected at least 100 homes and have experience with Milwaukee properties specifically.
- Inquire about specialties: If the home is especially large, complex, or includes unique elements like a pool, make sure the inspector has experience in those areas.
- Compare multiple quotes: Contact 3-4 inspectors to compare pricing, services offered, and responsiveness before selecting one.
- Trust your gut: Choose an inspector you feel comfortable asking lots of questions and who takes time to explain their process. Communication is key!
Taking time to research inspectors will pay dividends in getting a more robust inspection. And remember – the cost of a quality inspection pales in comparison to buying a home with undiscovered defects. It’s well worth investing in.
Attending the Inspection
To get the most out of the process, try to attend the inspection in person. This allows you to:
- Walk through the home with the inspector to see issues firsthand
- Ask questions on the spot as the inspector makes observations
- Point out specific areas of concern you may have noticed
- Learn about the home’s systems and maintenance needs for future upkeep
- Meet the inspector face to face to establish a rapport
If attending in person is difficult, ask if the inspector offers live video streaming of the inspection. This allows you to virtually look over the inspector’s shoulder.
Another option is to have a trusted family member or friend attend on your behalf. They can take photos/notes and ask basic questions. Just avoid having your real estate agent attend, as this poses a conflict of interest.
attending the inspection provides an invaluable learning experience. You gain insight that simply reading the written report later on can’t provide. If at all possible, plan to invest the time to be present.
Key Takeaways on Milwaukee Home Inspections
Home inspections are a standard part of the real estate transaction, but their importance can’t be overstated. Keep these key tips in mind:
- Hire a certified inspector accredited by ASHI or InterNACHI to ensure competence.
- Attend the inspection in person whenever feasible.
- Request inspections of all major home systems like structure, roof, electrical, plumbing, HVAC, etc.
- Additional tests for pool safety, mold, radon, termites, lead, and asbestos may be prudent.
- The inspection report provides a helpful maintenance roadmap for budgeting future repairs.
- Focus repair requests to sellers on major defects vs minor flaws. Be prepared to negotiate.
- A quality inspection provides peace of mind and gives you a true picture of the home’s condition to make an informed purchase.
While the inspection process adds some time up front, it’s one of the smartest investments you’ll make. The insights you’ll gain into your new home will be invaluable for years to come.