You are not alone if you don’t really know much about home inspections or home inspectors. Most people can derive what an inspector does by his occupation title “home inspector” but the name doesn’t give you all of the information that you need before you decide to engage a home inspector for his or her services. I’ll take a couple of minutes and go through some of the frequently asked questions about the home inspection process. Hopefully you learn a couple of things that will make your next home purchase that much easier. Let’s get started…

 

What is a home inspection?

A definition given by the International association of certified home inspectors states that a home inspection “is a visual examination of the home’s major structure, systems and components that are visible and safely accessible.” This definition leaves a lot of things open for interpretation, so a few of the associations that train home inspectors have come out with what they call “Standards of practice”. This document outlines what items in a home are required to be inspected and what items are not. Click here to see an example of these standards. Lastly, an important point to emphasize is that a home inspection is visual and noninvasive. Meaning if an issue cannot be seen (behind walls, behind furniture) then it cannot be observed and reported on.

Why should I get a home inspection?

Buying a home is typically a large investment, perhaps even the largest investment a person will ever make. A home inspection is simply a tool available to make sure you are fully aware of the condition of a home before you commit that large sum of money. A home inspector should be able to point out things from minor repairs to major structural and safety hazards that may not be obvious to a prospective buyer. Also, many mortgage companies require a home inspection before financing is approved for the purchase of a home. Relative to the cost of the home, a home inspection is a cheap way to give you some confidence in your purchase.

Where can I find a home Inspector?

Home inspectors can be found a number of places. There are sites that you can search such as Yelp and Home Advisor, or you can use something as simple as Google to find a local home inspector. However, finding an inspector is only the start of hiring one. You should take some time and do research on each home inspector you are considering. Make sure they are either licensed or certified. Check out their website and see what their qualifications are. Also, take a look at their reviews, read through them and see if the majority are positive. Don’t just go out and hire the cheapest inspector, do your research and if the inspector you choose happens to be the cheapest as well then so be it, but hiring an inspector based on their price alone is not the best practice.

How much does a home inspection cost?

This is a difficult question to answer because there are a number of variables that are dependent on each individual inspector. Some inspectors just charge a simple flat fee that is based on the square footage of a home. While others will base their price on square footage, age, and travel time. Price also varies from state to state, but in general you should expect to pay somewhere between $300 and $500 for your inspection, and more if you are getting additional services such as radon or mold testing.

How long does a home inspection take?

Depending on the inspector’s work flow and the size of the home being inspected the duration of the inspection should take 2 to 4 hours to complete. This is assuming you are only doing a home inspection. If further services are being performed it may take longer.

Can I attend the home inspection?

If you hire a home inspector that tells you that you can not attend the home inspection I would recommend you find a different home inspector. You can and should attend your inspection. It is a great opportunity for you to find out more about the home you are considering purchasing and will make you more comfortable in the purchase process if you are able to talk through issues that are found while the inspector is on site. There may be a couple of places that the inspector will not allow you to go due to safety concerns such as the roof and the attic. But aside from that, you should attend as much of the home inspection as you would like to.

What should I do if the inspection reveals problems?

Go into the home inspection, expecting the inspector to reveal problems. The chances of finding some kind of issue in a home (new or old) is near 99%. There are VERY FEW issue-free homes. What you need to do is determine what you are willing to deal with and what you won’t. If the majority of issues are small, chances are they will be inexpensive to get fixed and you won’t need to worry much about them. If you like a home and really want to purchase it, you may do more harm than good by trying to have the seller fix every little thing that is found in the inspection. That being said, if a large issue is found such as a structural defect, you should bring it up and, with the help of your agent, see what the best way to address it will be. There are different options for you to consider with a large issue in the home, you may want the seller to get it fixed, discount the purchase price accordingly, or you might even walk away from the purchase. Evaluate your options and choose the best way forward.

 

Do not be intimidated by all of the steps that are included in the purchase of a home, there are a number of people that are there to help you along the way. Your agent will be a great resource and your home inspector will look out for your best interests when it comes to the condition of your potential home. So, relax and enjoy the process, you will have a great new place to call yours before you know it!