What should a real estate inspection cover? What type of inspector do I really need? How will I get solutions and cost information to remedy what the inspector finds? What is covered in the written report?
The best and most useful real estate inspections uncover the true condition of the property including all the major systems. By major systems we mean plumbing, electrical, HVAC, structure and the roofing. The report should also include the condition of the overall site such as determining if the grounds are draining the water properly. These are the absolute minimum factors that should be covered by a quality real estate inspection.
The focus during an inspection should be to determine the true condition good and bad. For example, if the HVAC system may be aged but appears to be well maintained and therefore does not need replacing. If the roof is new but it was not properly installed in the first place, then this is also something you should know.
All our inspectors have many years experience in the construction trades and as I have stated previously, this makes the best inspectors. Without experience, judgment is very limited. For example, experience allows us to look at a crack and tell you with certainty if it is an issue or if it is typical for the site and conditions and nothing to worry about. Judgment allows us to know if the roof really needs replacement or if it has some years left in it provided it gets some repair now.
An important recommendation we make for Multi-Family buildings is that you get each and every individual unit inspected. Sometimes buyers only want to do a representative sampling of the units. This is often a big mistake. We did an inspection for a client who only wanted about 20% of the total units looked at. I advised him to have every unit inspected but the client felt he wanted to “save money” by not paying us to look at every unit. As it turned out, one of the units we did not inspect had mold issues and the repairs are going to cost over 10X the total price it would have cost to have us inspect every unit in the building! Not a very cost effective decision in the end.
At Commercial Real Estate Inspectors we always observe the site from a solution standpoint. Most issues can be handled. This could be as simple as the window seals are aged and worn but can simply be re-sealed instead of replacing the windows. Restrooms with no hot water can usually be solved relatively easily by installing on-demand water heaters.
In addition to the above, our RISK Assessment® will also give you the expected useful life left in each system, what immediate repairs are needed for each system and what you should expect to pay for each system over the next five years, other than routine maintenance.
Determining the costs to repair is one of the trickiest aspects of inspections. There may be several options so the costs will vary greatly. For instance, a roof might have standing water in a number of areas which causes accelerated deterioration. One solution is to fill in the low spots and then reroof over that area only. Another solution is to clean off the low spot and then apply a liquid sealer over it to help it last longer. One repair may be less expensive but not last as long. We do our best to give you various options.
Our report includes photos as well as clear explanations of what we discover. Our goal is to determine the true condition of the site and ensure our client fully understands it. Armed with this information, the client and his agent can make informed decisions as to the best way to proceed.