What Does a Home Inspector Do?

Congratulations! You are in the process of buying a home in Hawaii, but how do you know if the home you're buying will be your dream come true or if it will be a lemon with endless repairs and strife?

Enter the Hawaii home inspector. The Hawaii Purchase Contract allows for the inspection of the home during the closing process. And if the home inspection is done properly, it will seemingly give you endless information about the home.

The "home inspection" part of the contract also gives you an opportunity to request seller concessions to make repairs or to provide money at closing for certain repairs – or to even give you leverage to back out of the deal.

When is the home inspection done?

Depending on what is outlined in the Purchase Contact, the home inspection (or J1 in the Hawaii Purchase Contract) is typically done within the first 15 days after the initial offer was accepted. In a typical 45-day escrow period, the buyer would choose their home inspector on the first day after the offer was accepted. The inspection and inspector’s report would be completed, and any seller concessions would be agreed upon by day 12 of escrow. After the inspection is accepted, an additional deposit is made by the buyer.

How much does a home inspection cost in Hawaii?

Home inspectors in Hawaii typically charge from $300 to $450 for a typical Honolulu condo, depending on square footage. An Oahu inspection might range from $650 to $850 for a single-family home. The cost of a home inspection in Hawaii for large luxury homes will cost more, also due to the square footage.

What does a home inspector do?

In Hawaii, a home inspector will go through nearly all aspects of the home, sometimes using tools to test for moisture or other damage. During the inspection, the buyer and both the seller’s and buyer’s real estate agents are typically present.

You can expect a home inspector to examine all these areas:

  • Driveway, walkways, decks, porches, retaining walls, fences, gates
  • Exterior walls, trim, exterior stairs, hose faucets, gutters, drains, grading, roof, flashings
  • Water heater, air conditioning, ceiling fans, washer, dryer, refrigerator, stove, oven, sinks, disposal
  • Toilets, tubs, showers
  • Supply lines, electric panel, breakers, smoke alarms
  • Doors, windows, walls, ceilings, floors
  • Attic, basement, foundation

After examining these areas, the home inspector typically writes a report, which often includes pictures and can have red print too. The report will point out any flawed areas needing repair. The job of the inspector is to show what might need to be fixed in the near future or what is regular “wear and tear.” A home inspection also can point out major problems – like foundations cracking, moisture damage, old roofs, or double-tapped electric boxes.

A good inspector will verbally go over the report while you are the property to point out any of the major items in person. The buyer’s agent is also typically present during this time to ask additional questions and to act as an advocate.

What should I ask to be repaired after a home inspection? How can I cancel my home purchase contract if the inspection is scary?!

Due to the competitive real estate market, most homes in Hawaii are sold “as is,” meaning the seller will disclose any known material defects but they are not under any obligation to repair items. Despite the “as is” clause, negotiation for repairs might still be available after reading the inspection report. Typically small items – like caulking, replacing nails, painting, wobbly fans – are not negotiated in Hawaii. However, if a window is broken or there are significant electrical problems, you can work with your real estate agent to negotiate those repairs or, more common in Hawaii, to ask for additional funds at closing to make the repairs once you close on the home.

However, it is not unheard of that home sellers will refuse to make any repairs based on the inspection report findings. Therefore, with no repairs or additional funds from the buyer, you will need to decide if you want to purchase the home.

As a buyer, the J-1 section of the Hawaii Purchase Contact gives you the right to cancel the contract and not move forward on purchasing the house, if you are scared by aspects found in the home inspection. You might lose your initial deposit, however.

Who can be a home inspector on Oahu?

Unlike real estate agents, brokers, lenders, and escrow agents, there are no licensing requirements in Hawaii for home inspectors. However, home inspectors have the option to be licensed.

How can I choose a Hawaii inspector?

After realizing that home inspectors are not regulated or licensed in Hawaii, the best way to choose one is to find a professional company with an excellent local reputation. Also, many inspectors have licenses earned through national boards. Some of the best inspectors on Oahu have a previous background as a contractor, builder, or tradesman. Your real estate agent typically can suggest reputable professionals.

A reputable home inspector in Hawaii can offer peace of mind when closing on a home. Since buying a home may be one of the largest transactions you will ever make, it is important to read the inspection report carefully and ask many questions to be as aware as possible about all the aspects of your home.