Who to bring with you to an inspection

Once you get a property under contract, the clock starts on your physical inspection period (also called the “due diligence” or “contingency” period). This is the period, usually 10-14 days, during which you check the physical condition of the property. But most buyers aren’t experts in looking at all of the systems (foundation, roof, electric, plumbing, etc.) that make up a structure.

So the question is: Who can help you figure out if the structure you’re planning to buy is in good shape?

As a buyer of property, I have developed a team of people I bring to each inspection. They are:

  • A general inspector. I like to use LaRocca, because they create these very detailed 40 page PDFs that tell you every little thing that’s wrong with the structure, down to which light switches don’t work;
  • A foundation guy: My guy, Jose, has done a bunch of foundation work for me. He knows what’s really serious and what is just a “nice to have”.
  • A plumber: I bring in Andre to check the whole plumbing system and also to scope the sewer line with a video camera. This is something plumbers usually charge for, but Andre does it for my clients for free, because I funnel him so much business
  • A general contractor: My general, Gali, is an electrician by training. He looks at the overall condition of the property, the roof, and the electrical system. He’s renovated about 65 units in older buildings for me over the past 3-4 years. We’ve been to war together and I know Gali’s going to give me and my clients honest answers about what to worry about and what to let slide.

Each of these team-members produces a report detailing issues with the property and, in the case of all but LaRocca, a bid for fixing them. These documents serve as the basis for any negotiation with the seller about reducing the price of the property to compensate for work the buyer will need to perform after he buys it.

If you buy a property without bringing this kind of team along with you to inspect it, you deserve whatever problems result. And if your broker doesn’t demand that you bring in this kind of team, you’re working with the wrong broker.