Buying a home is both exciting and stressful at the same time. Most people are aware that there are a bunch of “hidden” costs associated with purchasing a home, such as the closing costs, property taxes, and homeowner’s insurance. One potential expense no one thinks about or wants to think about is home repairs. Buying a home that needs a bunch of repairs is not fun, especially when you weren’t aware of all the problems, to begin with.
This is where a home inspection can come in handy. Many realtors advise their clients to purchase a home inspection before closing on the deal so they can be made aware of any significant issues. Too often, the clients ignore their directions and opt to save the money for other fees. But is it worth it?
The average home inspection costs in 2020 range between $300 and $400, according to HomeAdvisor. For smaller homes and condos around 1000 square feet, the price will be a bit lower. And, for large houses over 2000 square feet, the price will be even higher. Most home inspectors will charge based on the square footage, but may take into consideration other factors as well:
- Their own personal qualifications and expertise
- Age of the home
- Focal points of the inspection, e.g., a major roofing problem
With home inspections, it is essential to remember that you get what you pay for. Home inspectors are not regulated by the U.S. Department of Housing (HUD), so it can be easy to get ripped off. A qualified house inspector may charge more than the average, but it will likely be more valuable to you to have his or her expertise. Make sure to pay special attention to a home inspector’s qualifications, experience, and marketing operations. For instance, if they are receiving a lot of word of mouth referrals, they may be doing something right.
Some inspection services are not included in all standard home inspections such as termite, septic, well, radon, asbestos, or mold testing. Costs for these additional services can be steep. Below are estimates for these other house inspection services.
- Radon: $150 - $800
- Termite: $100
- Septic: $300 - $600
- Well: $300 - $500
- Asbestos: $200 - $800
- Mold: $300 - $600
- Lead: $300
Many home inspectors, however, will still offer them as services on top of their standard home inspection cost. They may even bundle them together and save you money compared to purchasing the tests alone.
Most home inspections will take between 2 and 3 hours, depending on the size, age, and overall condition of the house. During the inspection, the inspector will review the condition of the entire house, unless otherwise specified. They will report back on the quality of each aspect of the home and, if any problems exist, will suggest methods for repair and potential costs associated with that.
A thorough inspection will cover the following:
- Roof and attic inspection
- Other Water leaks
- Electrical system
- Heating and cooling systems
- Walls, ceilings, and floors
- Windows and doors
- Structure and foundation
The cost to purchase and close on a house can be expensive without the additional costs of a home inspection. But this is even more of a reason why you should get a home inspection instead of trying to save. You and your agent will likely not be able to identify all the significant problems with a house. Sure, you may be able to detect problems with leaky faucets, damaged windows, or chipped paint. But can you discover if there is a major electrical problem? A severely damaged roof? Poor plumbing?
These are problems that, if left unrepaired, can end up costing you significantly more than the home inspection itself. This makes purchasing a home inspection essential to protecting your investment and your family.
For instance, if you choose not to get a home inspection and some of the additional services, you might save $1000 in the short term. Then, after a year, the following problems (and costs) present themselves:
- An outdated electrical system that costs $10,000 to get up to code
- A broken furnace that costs $6000 to replace
- A warped and cracked floor that costs $2000 to repair
You now have an additional cost of $18,000 added to your investment! All of this could have been avoided if you had simply paid for the home inspection upfront.
If protecting your family and the most substantial investment of your life is not reason enough to purchase a home inspection before buying, here are a few more:
- Negotiation tool - If some problems are revealed, even those with cheap and quick solutions, you can use that as a negotiation tool. You may be able to lower the price or get the seller to pay for the repairs before you move in.
- Back out option - if you are not 100% sold on the house, a home inspection can be a make or break for the deal. If the house inspection reveals problems, then you can easily back out without any complications.
- Forecast future costs - If major problems are revealed, but you are still interested in the house, a home inspection will help you accurately forecast what future expenses you will have on top of the final sales price.
The additional inspection services can get expensive really quickly. Although not each of them is needed, you might consider some of them. For instance, if you are purchasing a home built prior to 1978, you may have lead in the paint or the pipes. Asbestos was used in homes up to 1989, and mold or radon testing can be helpful since they can be extremely damaging if left untreated.
When considering the costs for a home inspection and related services, it is important to remember that it is merely a way to protect your investment. The inspection can save you from purchasing a major fixer-upper or make you aware of future costs. And, if the home inspection reveals no problem, then you can rest assured that your family and your investment will be protected.