Ah, the dreaded home inspection. For the seller, it can be suspenseful as they wait for the report to come back with any items that need to be fixed. For the buyer, it can mean a piece of mind that everything in the home is in working order and the potential opportunity to negotiate the repairs/ purchase price if anything is turned up during the home inspection process.
In general, a home inspection is meant to thoroughly check the condition of a home and is typically done when a home is being sold. More often than not, a home inspection is done by a trained and licensed inspector that acts as a neutral third party to inspect the home and provide a written report of all findings. Items that are typically examined in a home inspection include (but are not limited to) the following:
- Roof – What is the overall condition and probable age? Does it need to be replaced?
- Exterior of the home – Including the foundation, drainage issues, gutters, siding, etc.
- Attic space – Properly insulated and verify no leaks are present.
- Basement – Wet basements and crawlspaces can be a cause for concern.
- Plumbing – Check for any leaks.
- Electrical – Test of the light switches, electrical outlets and electrical panel.
- Heating and Cooling Systems – Are they in proper working order?
- Water heater – Is it in good condition and working properly?
- Appliances – General condition and age (If they are included in the sale)
- Other – a home inspector looks at windows, doors and any potential pest damage.
The physical condition of the house is an important aspect of buying a home. Many buyers include a home inspection condition as part of the purchase contract. The buyer is usually responsible for scheduling and paying for the inspection. If any issues are found during the home inspection process, then the buyer may go to the seller to ask for repairs or credits toward the purchase price to fix any items uncovered.
Some buyers prefer to do a pre-inspection before submitting an offer. This is commonly done in areas with hot real estate markets when a buyer may be competing against other offers and wants to set the offer apart by not having the inspection contingency included. It’s also not uncommon for a seller to do a pre-listing inspection of the house to fix any problems before a buyer enters the scene and requests for a repair to be made or money off of the purchase price.
Home Inspection Cost and Requirements
A regular home inspection will take a few hours to complete and can range anywhere from $150 to $500 depending on the size, location, type and age of the home. Some buyers will accompany the inspector while he or she is completing the inspection to learn more about any problems that are found and ask questions. A home inspection report will be furnished to the buyer. There is usually a state run website addressing this issue including having a list of state certified inspectors. The National Association of Certified Home Inspectors (NACHI), National Association of Home Inspectors (NAHI) and The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) can also be great resources as well. Most associations require a minimum number of inspections to join. For example, the ASHI requires no less than 250 inspections to be a member. As with any home improvement contractor, you can always ask for proof of licensing and insurance to make sure they are legitimate.
Typical home inspection reports will be thorough with photos and potentially diagrams. While the home inspector does provide a fairly comprehensive report, other reports may be needed. These may include, but are not limited to, a pest report, environmental health hazards (radon, mold, lead, asbestos) and specialized inspections from hazards such as flooding.
Home inspections are worth their weight in gold as paying a few hundred dollars to uncover a potentially major problem is money well spent instead of buying a home without an inspection only to discover a costly repair needed after you own the property. Even when purchasing a new property, a home inspection can potentially draw attention to any issues.