Selecting an Inspector and Reading the Report
In Oklahoma, inspectors are licensed by the state, have to go through testing, or grandfathered in by having extensive experience. By law, home inspectors are required to put estimates of repairs even though most of the are not licensed in any particular field of repair. In all cases including structural issues, they recommend that licensed people certify the accuracy of the deficiencies, and give a real cost of the repairs. There is also a difference in what is considered defective and what would be a recommended repair to improve performance, or possibly reduce energy bills. Typically you will receive this report at the time of inspection, or if not the full report get a summary of defective items. Remember that all houses are man made so even new homes can have corrections, and also keep in mind that inspectors can misdiagnose a problem, so the licensed repair person like an electrician or plumber will be bonded and issue a warranty of their work.
The inspection itself can take hours. A full inspection will include all electrical, all plumbing, all mechanical including heat and air, roof, and foundation. Cosmetic repairs in existing homes are not part of the inspection. A good inspector goes to minute detail like do all electrical outlets work, does plumbing flow freely and not leak, does the roof have integrity, and does the structure not have significant movement, or water pooling problems around the outside of the home. Inspections are good for the day you receive them, and no repairs can be made based on what might happen in the future. An example is the roof inspection. The roof may be 18 years old and at the end of it’s usable life, but if it doesn’t leak, it works. This leads to a discussion of other inspections.
Two other important inspections are by a pest specialist and your preferred home insurance company. The pest inspector looks for termites or other wood destroying pest like carpenter ants. if found, treatment is required for all of the structure. A pest inspector is also responsible for reporting any visible sign of damage which could impact the structure. Even though they cannot look behind the sheet rock, signs of damage can be found.
An insurance company’s inspection before you close is crucial. The above example about the roof can be handled by the insurer. Typically roofs are rated as a 1 which is total replacement value for roofs usually under 5 years of age. A number 2 is insurable which the roof being depreciated on it’s real or estimated age. The number 3 is not insurable where no usable life is left. This can void a contract due to the mortgage company not lending the money due to a lack of insurable condition.
It is rare in Oklahoma to get inspections for radon gas, lead based paint, or mold. Those inspections are not required except in some corporate relocation company rules. If you want those inspections they are voluntary and available.
Finally, REALTORS are required to give you multiple inspectors to choose from. You do not want to have any possibility that a REALTOR has undue influence on the inspection. The inspection is not only your expense, it is being done on your behalf, and the inspector fiduciary duty is to you and not the seller or REALTOR.