Before you buy your dream house, make sure it doesn’t turn into a nightmare.
Do yourself a favor and get a home inspection done. It’s the best way to avoid moving into a house that will require expensive repairs.
What Is a Home Inspection?
A home inspection is like a checkup for a house. It lets you know what condition the house is in before you buy it.
It’s a professional service provided by a trained home inspector. The inspector will point out any major defects with the house.
A house doesn’t have to look like a “before” on a home remodeling show to have something wrong with it.
Home inspectors look past the pretty photos and savvy staging to see what’s behind the curtain.
How Much Does a Home Inspection Cost?
The cost of a general home inspection usually runs $300 – $500, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
You may end up having to pay even more if you bring in a specialist who can tell you how much repairs will cost.
This can sting if you’re a first-time home buyer scraping together a down payment, closing costs and other expenses. But think about what you’ll save if you learn there’s a huge repair out on the horizon. Repairs can eat up a lot of money! According to PolicyMap.com, one out of every 20 homes needs over $5,000 in repairs. What if the house you want is that one out of 20?
How Do You Find a Home Inspector?
Start by asking your real estate agent if they can recommend any faves.
There’s also the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). You can use the website to filter for specialties and even find inspectors who speak second languages.
Maybe you need an inspector who specializes in FHA loans, tests for mold and speaks Urdu. There’s a filter for that!
Side note: The ASHI site has a home maintenance checklist to help homeowners keep their house in good shape.
Why is that important? Well, someday a buyer might inspect YOUR house. 👀
When Should You Schedule the Home Inspection?
Schedule it during the “due diligence period” after you sign the purchase contract. During that time, you can back out of the deal with no penalty if the inspection finds something that conflicts with one of your contingencies.
Home inspections usually take around 2 – 3 hours for a single-family home. Try to be there the entire time. The inspector will answer your questions in real time as they walk you through the good, the bad and the (potentially) freaky.
It’s like binge-watching a house, so maybe bring a snack and some water.
If you tell your inspector you want to be there, and they go, “Yeahhh … no.” Seriously consider hiring a different inspector.
Where’s My Home Inspection Checklist?
This is for quick reference. The checklist an inspector uses goes into wayyy more detail – which is what you’re paying them for. 😉
|Home Inspection Checklist|
Here are the things home inspectors typically inspect:
Nice curb appeal, but it’s time for the house’s close-up … in 8K HD
|Chimney: Is the chimney’s structure straight and free of cracks?|
|Doors: Do they have working locks and weather stripping?|
|Driveway and sidewalks: Are there cracks, crumbling concrete or edges you could trip over?|
|Exterior walls: Is there peeling paint, staining, lead paint, cracking or rotting siding?|
|Foundation: Is it straight and stable? Is any water getting through it?|
|Drainage: Does the ground slope away from the house enough to prevent water damage?|
|Garage or carport: Is it structurally sound? Does the garage door work well?|
|Gutters: Are they draining water properly? Are they attached to the house?|
|Roof: Are there any holes, bad repair jobs or signs that the roof is getting old?|
|Windows: Do they open and close? Is there rotted wood around them? Do they have locks?|
Sometimes, beauty is only skin-deep
|Attic: Is there any evidence of roof leakage? Is it insulated and well ventilated?|
|Appliances: Do things like the fridge and oven work?|
|Bathroom: Are there any leaks? Is the water pressure good? Does the exhaust fan do its job?|
|Basement or crawlspace: Are there any moisture or ventilation issues?|
|Electrical: Do the plugs and switches work? Are there signs of fire, shock or burn hazards?|
|HVAC: How old (and efficient) are the heating, ventilation and air- conditioning systems?|
|Garage: What’s the fire-safety rating of the walls between the garage and the house?|
|Kitchen: Do things, like the garbage disposal, exhaust fan and dishwasher drain, work?|
|Laundry room: Are there any signs of water leakage? Is the dryer properly ventilated?|
|Plumbing: Do all the faucets, toilets, showerheads, etc. function well? Are they leak-free?|
|Smoke detectors: Are they working and placed where they should be?|
|Water heater: How old is it? Does it work? Is it safely installed and secured?|
|Nope, Not Our Job|
Inspectors usually don’t assess these things:
|Floors underneath carpeting|
|Inside water pipes|
|Spaces in between walls|
|Swimming pool equipment|
|The lawn, trees, bushes, gardens – or garden gnomes|
|The design choices made by previous owners 🤐|
What About Specialized Home Inspections?
While it’s not universal, there are inspectors with specialized training who can inspect for at least one of the following:
If the inspector specializes in any of these, you can expect an additional charge. *groan*
A general home inspector will still let you know if they spot something suspicious. They can recommend a specialist to take a closer look.
What Happens After a Home Inspection?
Your inspector should email you a PDF of the home inspection report within a day or two.
The report will include photos and descriptions of any problem areas, along with thoughts about what needs to be repaired or replaced – and how urgent it is.
As a home buyer, you’ll use the inspection to help you decide your next move:
- If things look like too much of an expensive hassle, step away from the purchase offer and look for a different house.
- If you still want the house, negotiate for the seller to fix the most important problems. The seller can either give you a cash credit at closing so you can fix the problems or the seller can reduce the home price.
- If you REALLY want the house but the seller won’t negotiate on any repairs, indulge in a brief salty phase, figure out which repairs need to be made first – and start saving.
Long before you get an inspection, knowing some of the things inspectors look for will help you become a smarter house shopper.
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. “TEN IMPORTANT QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR HOME INSPECTOR.” Retrieved November 2021 from https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/housing/sfh/insp/inspfaq
PolicyMap. “The Real Cost of Home Repairs.” Retrieved November 2021 from https://www.policymap.com/issues/housing-quality/