Home Inspector writing on notepadA home inspection is an important part of the home-buying process, however, a common misconception is that it is a pass-or-fail type of analysis.  Home inspectors do not pass or fail a home; instead, they thoroughly inspect the property and provide buyers with a detailed report of any issues they see including potential safety concerns or even structural matters with the home. If you’re buying or selling a property for the first time and are unfamiliar with the home inspection process, we break it down below.

What Exactly IS a Home Inspection?

A home inspection is a great way for buyers to learn more about a home and help plan for future upgrades and repairs. Sometimes home inspections may even uncover major issues with a home that would make a buyer decide the house is not right for them. A home inspection should not be used as a tool to intentionally re-negotiate the purchase price, but instead to know what to expect as a buyer. If a buyer notices that the roof of a home is older and needs replacing, this should be taken into account when making an offer, not after the home inspection as a means to bring the price down further. However, if there is a hidden issue that was uncovered at the home inspection, a price reduction may be warranted.

Every home has essential structural and mechanical components that should be evaluated on behalf of the buyer by a professional home inspector. An AC/heating system is a great example of something in a home that could be in working order at the time of purchase, but be at the end of its serviceable life.  The replacement cost of an AC/heating system could lead to a significant, unexpected expense soon after moving in. A typical buyer will not be able to evaluate this on their own, but a professional home inspector could tell you how old the system is and how well it runs or even an estimated timeframe of a system’s remaining life.  Many buyers have no problem replacing an AC/heating system after they buy a home so long as they know in advance.

How Much Does a Home Inspection Cost?

According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost for a home inspection in the United States ranges between $281 and $403. The final price will be determined by a multitude of additional factors, including the location and square footage of the property, and any additional fees from the inspector. In most cases, the buyer will pay for the home inspection, but there are some instances when the offer is negotiated and the seller will cover the full or partial cost. These terms and negotiated and determined by your real estate agents and attorneys. 

Hiring the Right Home Inspector

If you are a buyer ordering an inspection on your potential future home, it is up to you to hire the home inspector. Start with your real estate team. Your trusted REALTOR® or attorney may have recommended vendors they’ve had positive past experiences with. If not, the best approach is to do your research! Ask any friends and family who have recently purchased a home if they have any recommendations. You’ll be able to have full confidence in their answers, since you know they’ll be 100% honest with you. You can also hop online and search for inspectors in your area – be sure to read reviews! Once you find an inspector you’re satisfied with, schedule the home inspection soon after signing an offer on a home.

What to Expect During the Inspection

In most real estate transactions, the home inspection occurs within 7-10 days of the accepted offer. When the date arrives, the inspector will come to the property and spend about 2 hours conducting the examination, depending on the size of the property. During this time, the inspector will be analyzing the following:

  • Walls
  • Ceiling
  • Floors
  • Windows
  • Doors
  • Attic
  • Roof and siding
  • Insulation
  • Basement
  • Foundation
  • Appliances
  • Heating and air conditioning systems
  • Interior plumbing
  • Electrical systems
  • Other structural components

As the inspector moves through their checklist, they will be compiling their findings into a detailed home inspection report that will be given to the buyers, sellers, and their real estate agents. 

After the Home Inspection: What to Know

After an inspection, it is important for a buyer to not get caught up in the “little things”.  For example, a buyer and a seller could find themselves in a stalemate over a dishwasher not functioning properly. The buyer wants it replaced, and the seller refuses to do so.  This can be frustrating for a buyer but a buyer should ask themself, is it really worth walking away from the home you really want?  Think of it this way, if the house you are buying is worth $300,000, is it worth it to back out over a $400 dishwasher? Probably not.

Buyers should also remember that it is an inspector’s job to find problems so, it is likely that they will find something wrong with every house they inspect.  There is probably not a house in the world that doesn’t need some attention on something.  Therefore, buyers should try their best to not feel overwhelmed or disappointed, as this is all part of homeownership.

We highly recommend buyers spend the money on a home inspection whenever possible. The report alone is very much worth the cost. Many homeowners will look back at their report years later as a reference for various issues.