A home inspection can be a stressful part of the home buying process for both the buyer and the seller. A poor inspection has the potential to throw a sale off track, and once you’ve found the perfect neighborhood, and a great house – no one wants that to happen. A home inspection is also a valuable and important part of the process, because it gives the buyer a chance to see the home from a professional perspective to ensure that they are paying the right amount for the property. As a buyer it can be easy to fall in love with the charm and feeling of a house, and – in the moment – overlook some of the less-than-perfect aspects. The home inspector’s role is to ensure that all of the facts about the condition of the property are presented to the buyer so they can make an educated decision.

1. Find a good inspector by getting referrals and checking online reviews

The first step in ensuring a good home inspection, is finding the right inspector to do the job! Your real estate agent, mortgage broker, or friends and family may be able to refer you to a good local home inspector. While you should take their referral into account, it is also important to do your own research. Check online review sites like Yelp and Angie’s list to double-check a referral, or to find an inspector on your own. Remember – you want to make sure that this person will work hard to find any potential issues with your future home before you solidify the purchase.

2. Actually, attend your home inspection.

Once you’ve found a good inspector, it is still important to attend the inspection and ensure that everything is being checked thoroughly. Being attentive during an inspection can help you note comments that the inspector makes, and gauge actual damage. It’s easier to assess the severity of a problem in-person than it is to do so through an inspection report. You will also have the opportunity to view the house in a more professional context than you may have before. It can be a good time to take a different perspective and evaluate the property as not only a home but also an investment.

3. Ensure that the inspector reviews all systems – and hire a specialist if needed.

When attending the inspection, you can take your own notes and also ensure that all spaces (including crawl spaces) are being checked thoroughly. While most inspectors are very thorough, some may avoid a thorough inspection of an area that is hard to reach, like an attic or HVAC. Additionally, you may find that your inspector is not able or willing to check certain systems of the home. Some systems – like septic, for example – may require a special inspector. You definitely want to be aware of every system that is being inspected, and ensure that major systems are being checked.

4. Use the home inspection report to calculate the cost of repairs – and negotiate.

Finally, you’ll want to use your notes to calculate exactly how much work – and money – will be needed to get your new home in tip top shape. Once you’ve calculated the cost of these repairs and replacements, you can work with your real estate agent to either request that the seller make the repairs, or request for a concession discount on the price of the home.