Frequently Asked Questions
Regardless if this is your first home purchase or your 7th, there are always questions when it comes to the home inspection.
Q - WHAT IS A HOME INSPECTION?
A standard home inspection is a non-invasive, visual examination of the physical structure and major interior systems of a residential building. Without a comprehensive home inspection, you could end up paying thousands of dollars in repairs or possibly buy a house that is unsafe.
This link has an overview of each element of a home that must be inspected.
Q- WHY IS A HOME INSPECTION SO IMPORTANT?
The purchase of a home is one the largest single investments you will ever make. With that in mind, it is extremely important that you learn as much as you can about the condition of the property and the possible need for any major repairs before making the purchase. A home inspection helps minimize the possibility of unpleasant surprises, unexpected costs and post-purchase headaches. Throughout your inspection, your inspector will even give you maintenance tips that will be necessary to keep it in good shape. After the home inspection, you will have a much better understanding of the property you are about to purchase, giving you confidence and peace of mind.
Q- WHAT SHOULD I DO BEFORE A HOME INSPECTION?
Do your research and make sure you hire a certified, reputable inspector. Make sure that you schedule the inspection for a time when you can walk through the home with the inspector, so that they can tell you about their findings throughout the process, and you can ask them any questions you may have.
Q- WHAT ARE THE BEST QUESTIONS TO ASK DURING A HOME INSPECTION?
Any question that you have! Your home inspector is there to help you make sure you’re purchasing a high-quality home that’s free of major problems. While a great home inspector is used to answering any and all of your questions, You can avoid questions about cosmetic issues. Focus on asking questions about the most critical (expensive) aspects of the home, such as the wiring and plumbing, internal structure, major appliances, and other such systems.
Q- WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF HOME INSPECTIONS?
A home inspection has a variety of great benefits. First, you’ll know exactly what you’re buying, once you do purchase a home. You’ll know if you should expect any major expenses, such as getting a new roof or a roof rebuild within a few years. You also may be able to invoke your contingency clause and walk away from a home if a serious issue is found – such as a cracked foundation or extreme levels of mold. And, if you do close on a home with more serious flaws, you may be able to negotiate a lower cost, or request that the homeowner fixes these issues before the home is sold to you. Finally, you avoid the potential expenses of buying a home that has numerous structural flaws. You’ll have peace of mind, knowing that your property is in good condition.
Q- IS A HOME INSPECTION JUST FOR NEW HOME BUYERS?
Not at all. It’s also for existing homeowners! A home inspection may be considered in order to identify problems in the making, and to learn important preventive measures to avoid costly future repairs. If you are planning to sell your home, you also may wish to have a home inspection prior to placing your home on the market. This will give you a better understanding of conditions which may be discovered by the buyer’s home inspection, and an opportunity to make repairs that will put the house in better selling condition.
Q- WHY DO I NEED A HOME INSPECTION?
If you are planning to buy or sell a home, it is recommended that you hire a certified home inspector to conduct the inspection. This is one way to learn the condition of the home and potentially gain more negotiating power during the sale/purchase of the home.
When touring a home, pay attention to anything that seems strange as it might be a red flag. Take note of any visible damage as well, as it might not be a problem now but it could turn into an expensive fix later.
These issues don’t have to be a deal breaker. They can, however, help you get a lower price for the home if you’re the buyer. Most home buyers agree that it’s worth spending a few hundred dollars on a home inspection to save a few thousand down the road.
Q- IF THE HOUSE CHECKS OUT, DID I REALLY NEED A HOME INSPECTION IN THE FIRST PLACE?
For sure! Now that your new home has been thoroughly inspected, you can complete your home purchase with confidence in its overall condition and its vital systems and components. You will also have become knowledgeable about your new home’s structure and systems, and can keep that information handy for future reference.
Q- HOW MUCH IS A HOME INSPECTION?
Most home inspection prices are based off of square footage. Other factors include the size and features of the house, its age, and additional considerations such as optional testing. It’s always a good idea to compare prices from several different home inspection services in your area, paying close attention to exactly what is included for the price. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) gives a typical price range of $300-$500, and cautions that “cost does not necessarily reflect quality.”
Regardless, decent home inspectors are well worth the investment. Whether it gives you leverage to ask the seller to cover more fixes or sets your expectations for what to budget for, getting a home inspection is one of the smartest investments you can make in your new home. Here is a great article that can help breakdown the cost of an inspection.
Q- DO HOME INSPECTORS INSPECT POOLS, FENCES, OR OTHER OUTSIDE STRUCTURES?
Most home inspections don’t include areas like pools, fences, and outside structures. When buying a house with a pool or other unique feature, it’s vital that each part of the purchase receive the same attention. That means you need to call a professional who knows these features and their potential pitfalls. Your home inspector may be able to provide inspection services for these areas at an additional fee or refer you to someone who can.
According to ASHI‘s Standards of Practice, section 4.2, E, “the inspector is not required to inspect out-buildings other than garages and carports.” Some home inspectors offer outbuilding inspections as an add-on service and some include it in the home inspection even though it’s not required. Talk with your Inspector about the property to make sure both parties are on the same page as far as what is inspected or is a potential add on service.
Q- WHY CAN’T I DO MY OWN HOME INSPECTION?
The simple answer is that you can! But many people often turn to their mechanics when purchasing a used car so why wouldn’t you turn to a home inspector when shelling out hundreds of thousands more for a house?
A professional home inspection can turn up issues that otherwise would have went unseen, such as the wrong gauge wire being used in the breaker box inlet, or an incorrectly hung cabinet that could become a hazard.
A home inspector’s job isn’t to spread doom and gloom, they’re your advocate.
Your home inspector will be able to shine a light on vital information that you likely wouldn’t have caught until after you had purchased the house.
Q- CAN A HOUSE FAIL A HOME INSPECTION?
Not really. A home inspection is merely a thorough examination of the home’s current condition. It is neither an appraisal (which determines market value) nor a municipal inspection, which verifies local code compliance. Most home inspection professionals, therefore, will not “pass” or “fail” a house, but will accurately and objectively describe its current condition and indicate potential problems or concerns. It is really up to the buyer and their agent to determine if the home meets their needs and standards.
Q- DO I NEED TO BE PRESENT FOR THE HOME INSPECTION?
If you’re selling your home and having a pre-listing inspection, it’s a good idea to stick around for the inspection to give you some insight on what you should fix before listing your home. However, if the buyer hired the inspector, there’s no reason for you to be present.
If you’re buying a home, it’s not required that you’re present for the home inspection but it’s a good idea to be there anyway. Attending the home inspection on a property you’re considering buying gives you a great opportunity to get a better understanding of the condition of the home, how to maintain it and any potential issues that may be present. You may be thinking that you’ll just be able to see these in the report, which is true, however, walking through the home with the inspector will make these items easier to understand because they can explain it to you during the process.
Furthermore, being present for the home inspection gives you the opportunity to ask the inspector questions about the home. It’s a good idea to ask about the parts of a home that are most expensive to repair/replace, such as:
Roof: replacing a roof can cost thousands
Insulation: insulation has a huge effect on power bills
Electrical system: rewiring a home can be an expensive task
Plumbing: plumbing problems can be very costly to fix
HVAC System: these systems usually must be replaced every 10-15 years
Structure: Structure damage can become expensive fast. If there is any kind of structural damage at all, you need to know before buying the home.
Grading/Drainage: improper grading and drainage can cause foundation damage
Q- I’M SELLING MY HOME, SHOULD I GET A HOME INSPECTION BEFORE PUTTING IT ON THE MARKET?
A seller’s home inspection is less common than a buyer’s home inspection but home sellers are realizing more and more that there are benefits to having their homes inspected before they even list their homes to sell.
The biggest benefit of a seller’s home inspection is to know all the potential issues before they are brought up in the buyer’s inspection report. This allows the seller to make sure any repairs get done ahead of time and most likely at a better price than the buyer would ask for as a concession during negotiations.
Home sellers can also be more realistic in their asking price, depending on any problems you want to leave “as-is.” Sellers can also include the inspection report with the disclosure statement, reducing their liability for any new findings.
Getting a home inspection prior to selling a house can sometimes even find safety hazards before agents and visitors tour the home, as these hazards could turn into a very expensive liability. The last thing a seller wants is for someone to fall down a flight of steps and get injured due to the lack of a safety railing that they didn’t even know they needed.
Q- WHAT IF THE HOME INSPECTION REPORT REVEALS PROBLEMS?
If you find serious issues, you can back out of the sale due to a home inspection contingency clause or you can ask the seller to fix the issues before moving forward with the purchase of the home.
The seller is not required to make any repairs, except those which address structural defects, serious safety issues, or building code violations. Examples include:
Issues that violate federal or state code
Structural or mechanical problems
Defects that cause safety issues
High radon levels
Cosmetic defects do not have to be repaired before the seller can sell their house, as they are not a hazard. You can ask them to make these repairs but they can refuse.
Typically the seller will offer you a repair credit and knock the price of the home down, based on the expected cost of the repairs. This is usually the best option when negotiating because some home repairs, like fixing a roof, can take weeks and become very inconvenient for both the buyer and the seller.
Q- HOW LONG DOES A HOME INSPECTION TAKE?
While there are no set standards when it comes to the length of time it takes to inspect a home, the process usually takes about two to three hours. For larger homes or homes with additional features, this process will take longer, while for small homes and condos an inspection may only take an hour or two.
Here are some additional factors that impact the amount of time it takes to conduct a home inspection:
Size of the home
Age of the property
Total systems to be inspected (HVAC, electrical, water heaters, pools, multiple kitchens, etc.)
Accessibility to areas that need to be inspected
Time spent answering clients’ questions during the inspection
One or more inspectors on site
Additional services (radon test, mold test, water test, etc)
A home inspection isn’t something you want to rush through. This is an important step in the home buying process and affirms the value of your investment.
Q- WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON ISSUES FOUND DURING HOME INSPECTIONS?
Curious what the most common culprits are in a home inspection? Here’s a quick list.
Roof and gutter issues (leaks, damaged/clogged gutters, etc.)
Faulty wiring/electrical problems
Poor grading or drainage around the home
Dampness or mold/mildew in basements
Cosmetic wear and tear (peeling wallpaper, dirty/damaged carpets, cracked driveways/walkways, etc)
Plumbing issues such as leaks, clogged drains, poor flow
Inadequate ventilation or insulation
Whether you’re a buyer or a seller, most home inspection findings are not deal breakers and will simply require you to negotiate a proper rate for the home based on what the inspector finds.
Q- DO ALL OLD HOUSES HAVE PROBLEMS?
No. Many old houses are built to last for decades or even centuries – and a well-maintained, older home is often a great investment. However, because the building techniques and materials we’ve used for things like electricity and plumbing have changed, some older homes have issues like knob-and-tube wiring, or polybutylene piping. In many cases, these issues may have already been fixed by the current owner. If this is not the case, hiring a home inspector allows you to find out, and see if there are any major issues with the home’s critical systems.