Home inspection is a vital part of the home buying and selling process. It can help home sellers prepare their home for sale and home buyers avoid expensive repairs later. Having regular home inspections every few years also provides homeowners with valuable information on how to maintain their investment and even improve home value. Here is everything you need to know about residential home inspection and what to expect from a home inspector.
What Does a Residential Home Inspection Entail?
A residential home inspection is a visual, non-invasive inspection of many different components of the home. A highly trained and certified home inspector will examine the home from the foundation to the roof, where accessible and safe to do so. This includes electrical wiring, plumbing, HVAC equipment, and more. It is important to note that the inspector will not be moving furniture or other items to get to inaccessible areas, so home sellers should prepare their home for inspection. After completing the home inspection, your home inspector will provide a detailed report with findings. Your local WIN Home Inspector will also provide maintenance tips and solutions, and be available for any follow-up questions.
Components of Home Inspection
A home inspector will examine the following components of the home where accessible and safe to do so:
- Structure – The inspector will examine the foundation of the home and the overall construction. This includes checking if siding appears loose or damaged, if the windows and doors function as expected, if screens are present and in good condition, if any thresholds are loose, and if there is any rot.
- Exterior – An exterior inspection covers the roof, gutter system, and crawlspaces. It will also check surrounding landscape such as walkways, driveways, steps, decks, fencing and patios, and whether the landscape allows for proper drainage.
- Interior – This part of the inspection covers everything from the chimney to skylights to the attic, basement, and walls, floors, and ceilings. Your inspector will point out any issues they find and include them in the home inspection report. Common issues include water damage, loose plaster, damaged fixtures, cracks, and more.
- Electrical – Your inspector will check electrical components including light fixtures, electrical outlets, and major appliances. They will also check the HVAC unit for proper function.
- Plumbing – Finally the home inspections covers bathroom and kitchen fixtures as well as the home's water heating system.
What to Expect
It is extremely rare that any house, even a newly built one, is 100% issue-free. It is vital to find a reliable home inspector who will provide a thorough home inspection, which will help identify issues and answer questions. Your trusted home inspector will also be able to provide suggestions for next steps, such as how to identify issues with leaky roofs.
How to Find a Good Home Inspector
A quick Internet search will turn up dozens of results for residential home inspection services in your area. Before settling on one, take the time to conduct some research and ask questions. Getting the right home inspector can mean the difference between discovering material potential issues in the home before sale or having to deal with costly last minute or future repairs.
Recommendations and Reviews
Ask friends and family for recommendations and read reviews online. Your real estate agent may also suggest a home inspector. A home is a big personal investment. It's worth taking the time to find the right inspector.
Ask to See a Sample Report
Many reputable home inspectors have sample reports available on their website. If not, ask to see a sample report. The sample report can give you a good idea of how thorough the inspector is. It should identify and detail any issues or defects, and provide suggestions on how best to fix it. The report should also include plenty of photos, be well organized, and easy to follow.
Avoid inspectors who only offer a checklist—this is not a complete report. A good report will give you an excellent idea of the home's condition, both positive and negative. This includes noting items that need fixing, recommending items that should be fixed, and identifying any unsafe conditions.
Lastly, ask how long after the inspection you will receive the report since timing is crucial during the home sale process.
Ask About Credentials
A reputable inspector must be certified and insured. Do your own due diligence to ensure that your home inspector has the appropriate certifications and/or licenses.
What Do You Need To Know
What Is and Isn't Included in the Residential Home Inspection
You want to know what will and won't be covered so that you can plan for it. For example, thorough pool inspections may require an additional inspection by someone experienced or certified in inspecting pools. Likewise, additional inspections and tests pertaining to radon, mold, and termite may be available for an extra cost because of the additional time and effort involved in conducting those tests.
Ask your home inspector if they provide a one-stop solution for home inspection services. One-stop home inspection companies have additional training and certifications to perform important ancillary services. They may also arrange to have additional services performed at the same time as the home inspection.
The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) provides a good outline of what you should expect to be covered in your home inspection report.
How Much Does a Residential Home Inspection Cost?
The usual cost range for a full home inspection is typically $300 to $600, and varies based on the size, age, and condition of the house. Geographic location also plays a part in determining the cost of a home inspection. Additional inspections, such as pool, mold, air quality, septic system inspection, or radon testing also add to the cost.
A home inspector will give you a close estimate but consider your options before making a final decision. It is more important to pay more for an excellent inspection service than to have a lower-cost and less qualified inspector miss something that could cost you more later. When deciding on your home inspector focus on experience, reviews, qualifications, and compliance with your state's regulations.
Does a Home Ever Fail a Residential Home Inspection?
Homes do not receive passing or failing grades as a result of a residential home inspection. However, the report details the condition of the house and any current or potential issues. It is up to home sellers and buyers to decide what actions to take based on the report.
What Happens When Issues Are Found During the Inspection?
After you receive the report, your agent will also review the report and make suggestions based on the findings. Home buyers will need to work with their agent and the home sellers to address any issues before the agreement deadline expires. Home sellers may want to make repairs or provide a credit to the buyers to make the repairs.
If there is an inspection clause in the purchase agreement then home buyers will have the option to terminate the agreement if the report reveals large, costly issues with the home.
The buyer's agent will also discuss options with the seller's agent to have the seller address the identified issues and make necessary repairs. The seller does not need to make any corrections, but most will likely compromise to keep the deal going.
Note: While the report will thoroughly detail any issues, it will not provide cost estimates of fixing the issues.
How Long Does a Home Inspection Take?
The duration of a residential home inspection will vary based on the size of the house, however expect at least 2-3 hours.
You can follow the home inspector during the inspection (except when and if he or she goes on the roof or in crawl spaces) and ask questions. During COVID-19 times, home inspector may ask you to maintain social distance. The inspector may let you know their findings as they perform the inspection, but don't worry if you can't retain all the information just then—it will be in the inspector's report.
Depending on the scope of the inspection and the conditions inside the home, the inspector may utilize various pieces of equipment. These can include electrical testers, carbon monoxide detectors, moisture meters, and ladders. Home inspectors also use a camera to capture pictures of the home and any issues the inspector finds during the home inspection.
When Should the Home Inspection Be Performed?
When selling a home, it is a good idea to have a pre-listing inspection. Pre-listing inspection allows sellers to make necessary repairs early and avoid unexpected delays later in the home sale process.
Home buyers should schedule a home inspection right after signing the purchase agreement. This will give buyers time to ask additional questions after receiving the report and work out any issues with the seller.
After purchase, homeowners should consider having a Home Health Check Inspection every 3-5 years. During this inspection, the home inspector will provide information on the current condition of the home. Regular inspections can help catch issues early and provide suggestions for next steps before the issues become larger problems.
Will a Home Inspector Make Repairs?
A reputable home inspector will not offer to make any repairs, as this is a conflict of interest. The home inspector may suggest the best course of action to fix various issues.
For more information or for help with a residential home inspection, please call (800) 309-6753 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and one of our experts will contact you promptly. To find a WIN Home Inspection expert near you, please click here.