Home inspections are an essential part of any real estate transaction. If you are purchasing a home, selling a home or having a home built, a professional home inspection can tell you its true condition before you sign on the dotted line. A professional home inspection gives you an independent, unbiased view of any problems and possible solutions, so that you have all the facts you need to make an informed decision.
What is a Home Inspection?
A home inspection is the visual examination of the physical elements and systems of a home, from the roof to the foundation. The exception to this can be with Condominiums and Townhomes where systems that are covered under the HOA covenants are not included in the inspection. The intent behind the home inspection is to give you a snapshot-in-time of the condition of the home.
What is Included in a Home Inspection?
The standard home inspection report will include evaluations of the home’s Roof, Exterior, and Foundation; Basement/Crawl Space and Structural components; Heating and Cooling systems (HVAC); Interior Plumbing and Electrical systems; Attic and any visible insulation; and visual inspection of the homes walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors.
While, no home is the same, what is covered is generally the same home-by-home. What’s covered in the inspection can vary by home type, geographic area, and the homes age. For example, in many places, homes don’t have an air conditioner installed, only furnaces, or in some areas homes are on slab foundations which make it hard to perform an inspection on them.
A home inspector certified by either ASHI or InterNACHI will recommend that the following areas are inspected:
- Attic, including condition of insulation
- Basement or crawl space
- Ceilings and interior walls (general condition)
- Doors and door frames (general condition)
- Floors (general condition)
- Heating and cooling systems
- Interior electrical systems, including wiring
- Interior plumbing systems
- Structure, interior and exterior
- Windows (general condition)
What is not included in a Home Inspection?
There are limits to what an inspector checks. According to home inspection regulatory standards provided by home inspection associations, such as ASHI or InterNACHI, certified home inspectors do not generally check these areas of a home: Additional structures separate from the home, such as sheds, barns, and outbuildings, chimney, interior wall spaces, septic tank, water testing, and well pump.
In our view, these items are generally not inspected because they require specialized training and tools to be inspected correctly. In other words, these are specialized inspections. But just because these items aren’t normally included, it doesn’t mean that you can’t have those areas inspected. Just ask to see if its an additional service that they provide or if they can recommend a specialist that can help you. If you are concerned about any aspect of the home you’re interested in, just talk to your agent to find out what you should do. Additional inspections can potentially save you a lot of money and time over the years, and give you added peace of mind.
How much does a Home Inspection cost?
The average home inspection costs $650 with condos and smaller townhomes under 800sq ft. costing as little as $450. Homes larger than 2000 sq ft. will cost $850 or more. Termite inspections cost extra but can generally cost less if you purchase it with your home inspection.
Keep in mind that home inspection fees varies geographically, as does the cost of housing. Additionally, inspections fees vary depending on factors such as the size of the home, the age of the home and possible optional services such as Termite inspections.
And though the first question most home inspectors here is, “How much do you charge?”, we urge you not to let cost be your deciding factor. If you’re not a real estate investor, your homes purchase may well be the largest investment you ever make. In this case you may want a detailed, high quality home inspection where you can gain a sense of security and knowledge that allows you to make an informed purchasing decision and possibly avoid purchasing a money pit. In this sense, the lowest cost or bottom basement bargaining might give you the best value over the long term.
Good, Fast, or Cheap…Pick 2
Instead, we think the inspectors qualifications, experience, training and reputation is a far more useful guide to use when hiring as well as their specific ability to serve the specific needs of the home you want to purchase.
Lastly, over the years, we’ve received feedback from both customers and realtors that they prefer a detailed and thorough inspection report with meaningful notes, clear photographs, and the ability to review the report with the inspector after it’s published to you. At this level of service, a home inspector may spend a total of 8-10 hours on your home inspection project. Isn’t that worth the cost of the inspection, if it can save you tens of thousands of dollars?
Questions to Ask your Home Inspector
If you’ve never had a home inspection or you are confused about the process, make sure to ask your home inspector questions so that you can better understand what their process is and what they offer. You can use the questions below as a guide to learning more about home inspections and your home inspector.
What does your Home Inspection Cover?
Your inspector should be able to list all of the items covered and the list should be tailored for your specific case, whether the inspection be for a Single Family Home (SFH), Condo, Townhome, MultiFamily or Commercial.
How Long will the Inspection take?
Home Inspections on Single Family Homes normally take 2-3 hours depending on the size of the home. Larger homes of 3000 sq ft. or larger may take longer. A good rule of thumb is 1 hour per 1000 sq ft. Condos or individual inspections such as: Roofs, Foundation, or Termite inspections usually take about 1-1.5 hours, again depending on size and/or complexity.
Can I attend the Inspection?
Normally customers, whether buyers, sellers or homeowners, and their agents should be allowed to attend the inspection. If they say you are not allowed to attend, this could be a red flag.
Can I ask questions during the inspection?
Questions and answers before and after the inspection are allowed and should be encouraged. It’s the home inspectors job to inform and educate you through this process. However, it is recommended that you convey any specific concerns you may have about the property at the beginning of the inspection and then allow the inspector to perform the inspection without a lot of questions or interruptions. This will allow your inspector to focus on the details without distraction. Then afterwards they can walk you through the results of the inspection. This time should be calculated into the total time of the home inspection.
How long does it take to receive the report?
The general time for the delivery of a home inspection report should be 2-3 days. Rush reports may be possible. Just ask your home inspector if you need it very fast but there may be a rush fee for same day or next day reports. And just remember the old adage.. Cheap, fast or good…pick two!
Can you provide a sample report?
Your home inspector should be able to provide you a sample report from previous inspections so that you can see the quality of their work and the style in which they present the information
What kind of tools do you use?
A home inspector generally uses a standard set of tools for inspections such as flashlights, screwdrivers, outlet testers, gas leak detectors and water pressure testers. But if you’re working with a more modern inspection agency, then getting a home inspection in 2020 could include more modern tools such as moisture meters, thermal imaging, and drones to give you a more detailed evaluation of your home.
Which home inspector association are you a part of?
There are two main home inspector associations that are nationally and internationally recognized: American Society of Home Inspectors, commonly referred to as ASHI and the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, or InterNACHI. There may also be other organizing bodies state-by-state.