What Is a Home Inspection?
A home inspection is a detailed process in which you go through a home you’re considering buying, evaluating it from top to bottom and looking for any potential issues. Usually, the seller should disclose any faults in the home before you even get to that point. But you should always verify their claims on your own.
This is ideally something you should do with a qualified specialist. While it may be possible to do a home inspection on your own, it’s going to be more complicated, and you may end up with unidentified defects.
House Inspection Checklist
1. Grounds and Exterior Structure
- Cracks around the foundation
- Deformation of window and door frames
- Visible unevenness to the overall structure
- Vertically uneven discoloration of the walls which could indicate flooding or other issues related to wetness
- Rotting materials
- Leaks from the above interior or from the exterior of the house
- Cracks and openings to the outside, especially in the roof
- Clogged up vents
- Insulation problems
- Stale air which could indicate ventilation problems
- Drainage problems, including possible leaks
- Cracked tiles, especially around water fixtures
- Inadequate water pressure in faucets and other fixtures
- Toilet rocking from side to side when pushed lightly
- Water pressure problems
- Signs of leaks around the sink and appliances, including mold, old stains, and rust
- Ventilation problems
6. Interior Rooms
- Check for cracks from top to bottom – look at the ceiling, walls, and the floor
- Signs of leaks and other water problems, especially in rooms close to the bathroom or basement
- Signs of asbestos in the insulation
7. Electrical Systems
- Fraying cables and exposed wiring
- Sockets not working – make sure to check every single one
- Poor access to fuse box
- Water damage near electrical fixtures
8. Heating and Cooling Systems
- Signs of clogging or other flow problems
- Unusual smells coming from the ducts
- Filters that haven’t been replaced in a long time
- Rusted and broken pipes
- Leaks in unusual places
- Check that the hot water works in all places where it should be present
- Check the condition of the whole-house water filter, if one is present
How Much Does a Home Inspection Cost?
In most cases, a complete home inspection done by a professional will cost you between $200 to $400. An inspection of a larger house can easily cost double while a less thorough 4-point inspection might cost half that. There might also be some exceptions, such as houses with an unusually large number of rooms, additional features like whole-house water filtration or modern HVAC systems, and other details that might require a closer look by a specialist.
Make sure to accompany your home inspector on their route to see what they are looking at specifically. Perhaps you will catch some issues that evade them. At the very least, you will learn a thing or two about how they carry out their work, and you’ll be better prepared for future home purchases.
Home Inspection Rundown
Essentially, a home inspection comes after an offer is accepted on a home by the seller. The buyer then will arrange for an inspection. It is an essential part of the process of buying or selling a real estate property. The inspection is an examination of the condition of the property that the buyer is attempting to secure. The inspector, upon hire, will assess many aspects of the property in question. This will range from the overall condition of the home to whether or not everything functions. It will include examining heating and cooling systems, electrical, plumbing, sewage, insect damage, fire damage, water damage, and safety hazards. The roof and foundation will also be carefully inspected.
All of this is taken into account to determine what could potentially impact the home and property value. From this inspection report, the buyer will choose to move on to closing on the property, negotiate items based on the findings, or cancel the contract altogether. Typically, the buyer is responsible for paying for the home inspection.
It should be noted that the appraisal is very different from the home inspection. This can be confusing to some buyers who often lump the appraisal in together with the inspection.
Finding an Inspector
Usually, your real estate agent will be able to provide you with recommendations for home inspectors that they have worked with in the past and trust. However, doing some research on your own and asking for recommendations from those close to you is also a good idea. You can usually request a sample report from inspectors before hiring to get an idea of what they include in their reports. By doing this, you’ll help ensure you find the best fit for your needs.
You will find that some home inspectors are much more thorough and detailed than others, so don’t hesitate to ask them about what’s on their typical checklist.
Acting quickly and being prepared to hire your inspector as soon as an offer is accepted is essential to keep your home buying process running smoothly!
Preparing For the Home Inspection
You should have your own home inspection checklist of items and areas of the home you are attempting to secure that you would like to have inspected before the inspector arrives. Some essential things to include on this list are the roof, foundation, rain gutters, exterior paint and stucco, and the attic space. All doors and windows on the home should be on that list as should plumbing fixtures, faucets, water heater, electric panel, power outlets, light switches, thermostats, air conditioning units, walls, floors, and ceilings. Have your inspector run all appliances to check for proper function. If the home is two stories, the stairs, steps, and railings should also be looked at. The garage and basement are very important and can be included on your list as well as the driveway and any walkways on the property. Safety MUST be taken into accounts with any trip hazards in these areas.
What Is Involved in a Home Inspection?
The inspection will last for a few hours, especially if your inspector is doing right by you and going into depth. Being present is great, so you can learn about your future home’s condition and have the problem areas pointed out to you. This will give you a great idea of what you want to do after the inspection as far as requesting repairs, backing out, or continuing to move forward onto closing.
What Do Home Inspectors Look For?
Home inspectors take a look at the big picture and the minutia. They will look at any basements and crawl spaces and analyze any mildew stains and odors, looking closely for any evidence of black mold. They will check that gutters are clean and allowing for proper rainwater flow.
The roof and chimney will be carefully examined for any deterioration of the shingles or other roof coverings. They will search for any signs of rotten elements below the shingles that calls for repair. The plumbing of the home will be thoroughly analyzed, searching for leaks and poor water pressure. Plumbing issues are a big issue as they can lead to water damage down the line.
The home’s electrical systems will be examined, and the inspector will be looking to ensure that the property’s electric and circuit breaker configuration is adequate for the home needs and requirements. They will be checking all ground fault interrupters (GFI) and the overall wiring of the house.
Air conditioners and heaters will be taken into consideration as well as all major appliances.
Damages to the structure and cosmetic aspects of the home will also be noted.
How to Use and Read a Home Inspection Report
While you can't technically fail a home inspection, you may wish to reconsider buying the home if huge problems are found and outlined in your report. You will need to analyze which items on that report are necessary to have repaired upon move in. For the things you are concerned about, you can get quotes on repairs to get an idea of what you want to ask for from the seller based on the report’s findings. In some cases, damages may be too significant to move forward, and you may want to cancel the contract and continue your search. In other cases, you may feel comfortable with the inspection report and will move forward with the home buying process.
Home Inspection Bottom Line
Inspecting a house before buying it is something you should never skip. It can be an annoying process when larger properties are involved, but it can also reveal a wide range of problems that you’d otherwise be unaware of. Depending on the situation, it may prompt you to back out of a sale or at least give you some leverage in negotiating a lower price with the seller.