Home Inspections

What is a Home Inspection?

A home inspection is a professional and impartial third party examination of a home, including its interior and exterior physical structures and systems. Home inspections reveal important information to both homebuyers and sellers. As a homebuyer, it provides a greater understanding of what could be wrong or could go wrong with the property you are planning to purchase, and as a seller, it gives a clear picture of what you may or may not know to be wrong with the home.

Depending on the size of the home, inspections typically take between two to four hours. After the inspection is complete, the inspector is expected to provide the potential buyer with a report within 24 to 48 hours. This report will not provide a pass or fail rating, but rather, a description of the physical condition of the home and which repairs and replacements are needed.

While there are a few similarities between home inspections and home appraisals, they have different end goals, as appraisals are used to determine a home’s value. Additionally, a home inspection is not the same as a municipal inspection, which is used to verify local code compliance.

What Does a Home Inspection Include?

The average cost of a home inspection is between $280 and $400, depending on the size and location of the home. Home inspectors typically examine the condition of the home’s heating and air conditioning systems, plumbing and electrical systems, roof, attic, insulation, walls, ceilings, floors, windows, doors, foundation, structural components, and basement. The inspector’s findings will all be put in a report along with photographs, analysis, and recommendations.

How Do You Find a Home Inspector?

There are several ways to find a home inspector. A few good starting points include the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI), and the National Academy of Building Inspection Engineers (NABIE) – all of which are professional organizations that offer membership for home inspectors and/or engineers.

Another option is to ask a friend or family member who has recently hired a home inspector. There is a reason word of mouth advertising is still effective. We trust the people we know, and their opinions are often much more valuable than reviews found online. If they are comfortable sharing their inspection report, you can even see the inspector’s work firsthand.

A third, but less recommended option is to ask your real estate agent for suggestions. You will want to make sure you fully trust your agent, as there is potential for a conflict of interest between the real estate agent and the inspector. It is important to choose an inspector who will be thorough regardless of his or her connection to the real estate agent.

Why are Home Inspections Important?

A home is the largest purchase most individuals will ever make, so it is beneficial to learn as much as possible about the investment before committing to it. An inspection will provide a better understanding of the home’s current state and help identify necessary repairs and maintenance.

A few of the top reasons to purchase a home inspection include:

  • Reveal safety issues such as radon, carbon monoxide, and mold
  • Uncover illegal additions or installations, which affect insurance, taxes, and home value
  • Gives a picture of future costs that may arise and helps you determine insurance coverage. For example, if the inspection finds the heating or air conditioning system is a certain age, it will give you a better idea of when it will need to be replaced
  • Provides a negotiating tool with the seller
  • It can provide a way to withdraw an offer if the contract includes a right to terminate based on inspection

One of the greatest advantages of a home inspection is that it reveals the big picture. It is easy to overlook certain features when you fall in love with a home. An inspection provides a reality check. The home may still be exactly what you are looking for or it may end up being a bigger headache than you want to take on. Without an impartial examination from a third party, you will not find out until after you have already purchased the home.

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