Everything To Know About Your Upcoming Home Inspection

Are you wondering what to expect during a home inspection? Learn about why a home inspection is needed and what it can uncover.

If you have a house or are planning to buy one, you also have a lot of responsibilities. You are responsible for maintaining the home. It is also up to you to ensure your own safety, as well as the safety of everyone else who enters it. That includes children and pets. Unless you are an expert on all things related to home construction and maintenance, it is likely you cannot identify all of the issues that make a home potentially unsafe. That is why you are likely to need a home inspection at some point.

Home inspections are commonplace, especially when buying or selling. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 5.64 million existing homes changed hands in the United States in 2020. The thought of dealing with a home inspection may concern you, especially if you have never needed to hire a home inspector in the past. However, understanding what home inspections are, why they are necessary, and how they are conducted can help ease your mind and prepare you for the process. Here is everything you need to know about your upcoming home inspection.

What is a Home Inspection?

A home inspection is an inspection and review of the safety and structural integrity of your home or a home you plan to potentially purchase. The home inspector's job is to point out any safety issues to you and to other interested parties, such as real estate agents. For example, if a home inspector notices a leak in the attic of a home, he or she notes the need for a roof repair or replacement.

It is important to know a home inspection is not a test. There is no grading system. It is simply a means by which structural and safety issues are pointed out. It is up to you as the home owner or potential buyer to work out how to deal with those safety issues. For example, if you are the seller you might reduce the sale price of the home but require the buyer to make repairs on their own after the sale.

When is a Home Inspection Necessary?

If you are wondering when a home inspection is absolutely necessary, the answer is never. There is no law requiring home buyers or sellers to get a home inspection. However, there are plenty of good reasons to request one as either a buyer or a seller. Some include:

  • Requesting a home inspection as a seller makes you look more responsible to a buyer.
  • As a seller, a home inspection allows you to fix issues that might detract from your home's value. Paying a small amount to fix those issues may allow you to sell the home for much more money.
  • As a buyer, requesting a home inspection prevents you from encountering expensive and unpleasant surprises after you have finalized the purchase of a home.

If you are thinking of purchasing a home, it is in your best interest to pay for an inspection. However, the results of the inspection may cause you to lose interest in the home. As a result, you may have to request inspections of multiple properties before you find one you like.

Where Does an Inspector Look?

A home inspector's job is to look for any general safety issues within the home. Those issues might relate to the structure itself. They also might relate to wiring or plumbing within the home. The purpose of the inspection is to make sure the home is fit to live in. That requires the inspector to look at all visible areas from the basement (if one exists) to the roof. The home inspector only looks at blatantly visible issues. He or she does not open walls or otherwise alter the home's structure during the inspection process.

What Specific Issues Are on a Home Inspector's Checklist?

There are many issues on a home inspector's checklist. He or she must go room by room to look for safety and structural issues. Each room has its own safety challenges. For example, common kitchen issues include:

  • Electrical outlet proximity to water sources.
  • Improperly vented range hoods.
  • Broken appliances.
  • Leaky plumbing.
  • Cabinets that are not working properly or secured to the walls properly.

There are also certain general safety issues the inspector must check in every room of your home. For example, he or she looks for doors and windows that do not close properly. Signs of mold or moisture damage, such as stained ceilings, are also high on the checklist. Other obvious issues might include:

  • Bubbling or cracking paint.
  • Blocked heating ducts.
  • Lack of sufficient heating or cooling ducts.
  • Poorly insulated areas.
  • Termite or other pest damage.
  • Non-functional electrical switches or outlets.

How Much Does a Home Inspection Usually Cost?

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), $300 to $500 is a reasonable amount to expect to pay for a home inspection, and the process only takes a few hours. However, that is an estimate. HUD does not control home inspection costs or time frames. Additionally, experts point out the cost and time vary drastically between structure types. Larger homes often take longer and cost more to inspect, as do older homes because they frequently have more safety issues.

How Can You Find a Home Inspector?

Finding a home inspector is easy. However, finding one that is cost effective and reputable may present a challenge. A good first step is to request recommendations from your loved ones who have used home inspection services in the past. They can tell you about inspection services worth using and services best avoided.

Online research is another excellent way to find a home inspector. You can use online yellow pages and websites like Yelp or Nextdoor to locate local inspectors. Such websites also provide reviews you can use to assess inspectors and narrow down your options. The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors and other similar organizations can also connect you with reputable home inspectors in your area.

Making the Most of the Home Inspection

Since a home inspection is costly, it is important to make the most of it. Make sure you personally attend the home inspection and ask the inspector any questions you may have. You can also protect yourself by taking photographs documenting any issues the inspector discovers. That way everyone remains on the same page during the home selling and buying process.