Home Inspection - What are main things to look out for , from a First Time Buyer's perspective ?

Asked by mspbuyer, Minneapolis, MN Thu Apr 5, 2012

We got our offer accepted for a house, and would undergo the Inspection in a few days - what are the things I should know before I arrive on site - since we are first time home buyers, I feel like I can be overwhelmed by all the new nouns that the inspector would throw at us - and I wish to be a bit self-educated to ask relevant/smart questions which really are important for me to know as a buyer

Help the community by answering this question:

+ web reference
Web reference:


Patti Ann Ka…, Agent, Coon Rapids, MN
Fri Apr 13, 2012
Any home inspector worth their salt will explain everthing to you in everyday plain language. However, you do want to pay special attention to the most common problem areas:

* Water in the basement - pay special attention to the landscaping around the house, the gutters, and the roof. Does it appear that the water flow towards the foundation walls when it rains or away from the foundation? The ground next to the house should slope away from the house. Concrete is porus and just about all foundations in Minnesota will allow moisture to pass through them. When water pushes through concrete blocks, it creates a white chalky looking crystal substance. This is called efflorescence . If there is a large amount of efflorescence, that could indicate a continuing moisture problem. Ask you inspector to explain this to you. Also, make sure to take a good "whif" while you are in the basement. Your nose will tell you a lot about a house.

* Electrical - Most of us have sensitive electronics equipment. If it is an older home, you want to ask if the electrical needs to be upgraded to be able to handle the number and type of electrical devices that you plan on using.

* Plumbing - if you can, get a good look at the underside of the floor beneath the bathrooms. Are their signs of staining? This can tell you if there have been leaks. Many times, homeonwners forget that they should replace the wax seal on the toilet every 2 to 3 years. If the flooring is very stained and the wood is rotting, this may be an issue.

* HVAC - You'll want to pay special attention to the furnace and air conditioning system. If it is a forced air furnace, look for signs of corrosion on the exterior of the furnace. This may be an indication of flue gasses present outside of the furnace which may be a problem. Also, the flames should burn blue and not have a lot of orange in them.

* Most inspectors will show you where the shut off's are for the gas and water. Have them show you the electrical panel as well. If they don't offer this information up front, ask them to show you where these items are located.

Remember that all previously owned homes have their little issues. You want to be aware of them, but don't panic if there are a few little things that come up in the inspection.

In the end, ask the inspector if there is any reason you shouldn't purchase the house. Also make sure to get a copy of the written report.
2 votes
Teri Eckholm, Agent, St Paul, MN
Thu Apr 5, 2012
Whether first time buyer or buying for the second or third time, hiring a good inspector is always recommended.

A professional inspector will have a checklist of things they look at including the roof, foundation, windows, attic insulation, heating/cooling system, plumbing, electrical, exterior siding and grading and all included appliances. You will want an inspector that allows you to be a part of the inspection process so you can ask questions as he/she goes through the home looking at the structure. At the end of the inspection, most inspectors will provide you with a written report that will often include photos of any defects or concerns that you can discuss with the seller.

If you do negotiate any repairs to be made for by the seller, it is important to check for completion in the final walk through just before the closing. In fact, it is a good idea to bring a checklist of everything reviewed during the inspection to make sure that nothing has changed since writing the purchase agreement.

If you are interested in a checklist, I have one on my website. The link is below.

Best of luck with your home purchase!
1 vote
Cathy Wildung, Agent, Maple Grove, MN
Thu Apr 5, 2012
Your inspector should look at the foundation, the roof, insulation, gutters, downspouts, the grading, which is how the ground slopes away from the house for water runoff. He should look at the plumbing, check for leaks by running water, electric, check appliances, especially the furnace and air conditioning by running them. Basically, he should check everything in the house that could be a potential problem and alert you to any safety issues.

I would not be afraid to ask any questions as long as you don't interfere with his work too much.
You are paying for the inspection and he is working for you.

If any serious issues are found, you can choose to cancel the purchase agreement or ask the seller to make repairs, unless it's a lender-owned property. They will not usually make repairs unless they are required by FHA for the mortgage.

Good luck and congratulations!
1 vote
Jake Scheeler, Home Owner, Maple Grove, MN
Thu Apr 5, 2012
Make sure to pay special attention to the structural (roof, foundation, walls) and heating and cooling, electrical, plumbing systems. Any good inspector will be able to identify issues pertaining to these and give you info on what to repair/replace and what red flags may exist that you as a buyer could negotiate with the seller. Asking questions related to these items will show that you know what the most important aspects of the home's condition and value are.

Most inspectors with whom I've dealt are very good at explaining things in plain language so that you don't really need to worry about lingo and jargon. This is an exciting time, so don't stress out..you're doing the right thing by hiring a professional inspector and you are almost to the finish! Congratulations on your purchase!
1 vote
Justin Graff, Agent, Little Canada, MN
Wed Mar 26, 2014
In my opinion make sure that all the mechanicals are in working order. Also make sure windows and insulation is satisfactory. At the end of the day get a qualified home inspector to look at the house with you.
0 votes
Susan Hoffla…, Agent, Shoreview, MN
Sat Apr 7, 2012
Hi, mspbuyer!
Well, you may already have had your inspection by now. If not..................

The most important thing to remember is ASK QUESTIONS!!! I feel the same way about the inspection that I do about the lender. You need to keep asking questions until you understand. You have hired this person to, not only inspect the property but to EDUCATE you about the important things that you need to know.

Generally, a good inspector will delineate between normal home owner maintenance things you need to focus on and things that may be a hazard for you. From there, depending on the deal you have going and who the seller is, it might give you additional items that need to be negotiated in the purchase.

Take your own notes!!! Even though you will most likely get a copy of the report, I doubt you'd go back and read through that over and over. In your own notes, you'll know exactly what you meant. And, if not, you can always go back to the report and read what the inspector says.

Good luck to you and CONGRATULATIONS!!!
Web Reference:  http://www.homestosellmn.com
0 votes
Christopher…, Agent, Tarrytown, NY
Fri Apr 6, 2012
Hi, a home inspector will go in and inspect the basic infrastructure of the home. This includes plumping, heating/ac, basic structure, and electric. Keep in mind your home inspector will make observations and will recommend bringing a specialist in if something needs to be looked at further. They will also make alot of recommendations in their report. I suggest you attend the home inspection so you can see how the things in the home work, everything will be documented in a report later on.

0 votes
Elizabeth Fu…, Agent, Wayzata, MN
Fri Apr 6, 2012
Go to the internet and look for home buyer inspections; You will find lists of people who do inspections and their lists of what they look for and what you should ask. Good luck! Liz
0 votes
Irina Karan, Agent, Aventura, FL
Thu Apr 5, 2012
Great question!

While you might read up on contractor's glossary of terms just to know them, it's not really that important to prepare for the inspection. If your inspector is a seasoned and licensed professional, and I hope he will be, he will look at all of the important structural, electrical, plumbing, termites, roofing and foundation (if possible) parts of the house.

In the end of the inspection, he will go over all the findings in detail and will give you an itemized report. You will have a chance to ask any questions and he'll explain everything in simple terms.

No need to stress over it. Generally, there will be some minor things (there are always are) that will need to be fixed. What you should pay attention to is the structure soundness and the appliances, AC, septic tank, well, hurricane preparedness (if applicable), water heater condition. Large ticket items might cost you, and sometimes having the seller repairing them is better than a price reductions (especially when you are buying for the first time).

Hope all will go well for you!

Irina Karan, CDPE
Beachfront Realty, Inc.
0 votes
Mark Claesse…, Agent, Coon Rapids, MN
Thu Apr 5, 2012
You want a inspector that has been doing inspections for many years and has a lot of experience. You want one who promises you that at the end of their 2 1/2 or 3 hours in that home, will sit down with you and not only go over the full report on premises, but will spend time going over each of their flagged items individually and actually, physically SHOW them to you so you get a visual and can ask questions. In addition, I feel it is important that they have some good equipment.

For instance, it is important for them to get up ON the roof and look at it. It is also important to use a "sniffer" and check for carbon monoxide at the furnace and water heater.

If you need any good, solid referrals feel free to let me know, or ask your realtor for some good leads.

0 votes
Search Advice
Ask our community a question

Email me when…

Learn more