Karen E Laine Of Good Bones Breaks Down The Art Of A Successful Home Inspection - Exclusive

Some problems in a house are clear to see — like a cracked foundation or hole in the roof — but others are a little more sneaky. Karen E. Laine, star of HGTV's hit series "Good Bones," is practically an expert at determining which flaws are worth fixing and which may be a total wash. In an exclusive interview with House Digest, we asked Laine for her advice for helping buyers identify and resolve hidden issues before they turn into disasters. "The really bad things are easy [to spot]," she said, "But homeowners will likely not see the problems behind the walls and under the flooring."

According to Laine, two often-missed places will reveal the overall health of your home: the basement and the attic. While she emphasizes the importance of inspecting these areas, Laine doesn't believe you should go it alone. Rather, she told us exactly why you should always hire a good home inspector to help you crawl under the floorboards and explore the attic.

Search the whole house high and low

You can't expect to know everything about the house unless you conduct a thorough inspection — especially in basements and crawlspaces. Karen E. Laine explained that by searching every nook and cranny underneath the house, you may discover invisible issues like water damage or unstable flooring.

"You wouldn't know that unless you got into the basement or crawlspace," she told us. Knowing these things will help you make a mental to-do list before you close on the house. "If you get underneath the floor system and look up at it, you can see things like, 'I have water damage here, and this floor system is no longer stable," Laine explained. "'I need to treat my termites, replace lumber, and I need to figure out where the water intrusion is.'"

Inspecting the roof and attic is equally as important. Even if you know there's water damage on the ceiling, the leak in the roof could be much more complicated than you anticipated. "Leaks in your roof are very hard to find, because they can go on undetected for years," Laine emphasized. "Water finds the path of least resistance, so it'll go down a rafter, it'll run along a joist, it'll drip down an interior wall, and it'll eventually hit something that it destroys." She recommends looking especially closely at the roof system, decking, rafters, and ceiling joists.

Team up with your inspector

Buying a home is a serious investment, so you want to be sure every detail is accounted for. Some minor flaws and upgrades are normal for any home on the market, but a formal inspection is crucial to making a wise decision. "You should never buy a home without an inspection," Karen E. Laine warned us. "Follow your inspector around. You are paying them. They're there for you. If you see something that looks weird to you, ask the inspector."

While they may have more training and experience on the job, inspectors are human too, and even they can make mistakes. "I've been following inspectors around for the last 15 years and have learned a lot from them," said Laine, "but they have also [missed] things that, if I hadn't been there, they wouldn't have seen." 

Most of all, Laine recommends being kind to your home inspector. They're there to help you, so treat them like the valuable teammate that they are. "Don't be a jerk. Be nice, be polite," she advised, "because two heads are better than one." And if you happen to have a camera crew following you around, be supportive of them too. As Laine wrote in an Instagram post, "Sure, I go into some rough spots, but for you to see me in those places, the camera person has to go first. And he doesn't like it nearly as much as I do!"

New episodes of "Good Bones" air at 8:00 p.m. ET on HGTV and are available on Discovery+ the same day.