Home Inspections as a Home Maintenance Tool

July 24, 2023

My across the street neighbor already bought her house – like about 30 year ago.  And I don’t think she is planning to move any time soon. So when she told me she had hired a home inspector to come by for a “walk and talk”, that seemed pretty interesting.

She has always been very conscientious about maintaining her home, and for anyone buying a used house, hers would be a very safe bet. So this home inspection was an important tool for her in keeping on top of any issues that might come up and to help put together a good strategy for addressing them before they could become problems.

In Washington, DC, anything built after about 1950 could be considered “new construction”. My house celebrated its hundredth birthday eight years ago. So there is always something that either needs attention or urgent attention, and it’s usually a lot less expensive to deal with repairs before they need urgent attention. This is where a good inspector can make a big difference.

A “walk and talk” inspection differs from a full blown inspection in that you don’t receive a written report. You shadow the inspector with your note pad, or most will allow you to record the session on your iPhone. They go over the structure, the mechanical systems and the appliances to help you predict what is likely to need attention in the near future and a ballpark number for the costs to fix anything likely to go wrong.

If you decide to hire a home inspector for your place, my strong advice is not to select one solely on the basis of price. There are a lot of inspectors out there, and some are pretty sloppy. What you want is a totally compulsive house nerd with a reputation for being a “buyers” inspector. Many of them get nervous about getting reputations for finding too much and scaring buyers away from a house. You want one who takes pride in finding everything and who can explain issues without giving the client a heart attack. In other words, a great house side manner!