Home Inspection FAQs

A home inspection is one of the best ways to ensure a successful outcome of a real estate transaction. Sometimes, a property could have serious issues; the only way to uncover them is by doing a home inspection.

A typical buyer can’t evaluate the property’s condition on their own. That’s where a home inspector comes in. They can give you a clear picture of a property’s major systems and provide an estimated lifespan of its components.

This guide offers answers to some of the common home inspection FAQs. Read on to prepare for one of your life’s most significant investments.

What is a home inspection? 

A home inspection is a visual examination of a property. A home inspector checks the components and systems of a home to generate a report based on the findings.

Why is a home inspection important?

A house is likely the largest purchase you will ever make. A home inspection will help you to make an informed decision and avoid a money pit. If a home inspection finds significant issues with the property, you can use it as a negotiation tool.

Do I need to be present for the home inspection?

You don’t need to be present during a home inspection, whether you are buying or selling home. But staying around can give you a better understanding of your property’s condition and necessary repairs. When you are present, you can ask a home inspector questions, as you walk through the property.

What will fail a home inspection?

A home inspection is not supposed to get a pass or fail. It provides a snapshot of the property’s condition and outlines areas of concern. However, red flags could make a buyer walk away if they’re too cost-prohibitive.

What happens if a home fails a home inspection?

While some expect a home inspection to get a fail or pass, it’s not the case. A home inspection report offers the property’s condition and indicates areas of concern. But the report doesn’t provide “yes” or “no” answers to any questions. 

A buyer can walk away if there are too many issues with a property. A buyer doesn’t have to make an offer on a home if they are concerned about the inspection results. Since the seller may not see the report if a buyer paid for it, discussing the findings is essential.

What do home inspectors look for?

A home inspector assesses specific areas of your home that have the most impact on your property.

Here are some of them:

  • Foundation
  • Roof and gutters
  • Ceilings and walls
  • Doors and windows
  • HVAC
  • Plumbing system
  • Electrical system
  • Attics and crawlspaces
  • Basement
  • Grading 

A home inspector is not responsible for checking mold, pests, asbestos, or radon. If you want to check your property for these problems, hire an inspector specializing in a specific area. Regular home inspectors sometimes offer ancillary services like radon or water testing, but they are not included in a price of a standard home inspection and require an extra fee.

How does a home inspection work?

One of the most common home inspection faqs is how a home inspection works. That’s not surprising, given that the result of a home inspection can impact the value of a property.

You need to hire a licensed home inspector to conduct a home inspection. A home inspector will assess areas of your home and generate a home inspection report. Remember, that a home inspection report provides a snapshot of your home’s condition, but it doesn’t offer suggestions on how to do repairs.

How does a home inspection help buyers?

A home inspection provides an unbiased opinion of the condition of a home. It helps buyers to see all the major and minor issues. If a buyer is unsatisfied with the home’s condition, they can ask the seller to do repairs. A buyer and seller can also negotiate the property’s price based on the extent of the issues.

Sellers can also conduct a pre-sale home inspection. Buyers can accept the results of a seller’s home inspection, or they can do their inspection.

What are the benefits of getting a home inspection? 

There are many benefits of getting a home inspection, whether you’re the seller or the buyer. A home inspection gives buyers more negotiating power. As a buyer, you have several options based on the findings of your home inspection. As a seller, you can schedule a pre-listing home inspection. This way, you can make the necessary repairs before listing a home on the market.

How is a home inspection done?

A home inspection is performed by a certified home inspector. The inspector will check major components like the systems, roof, and foundation. They will generate a report that includes photos and notes on the condition of your home.

What’s in a home inspection report?

A home inspection report has photos and notes about any damage or other issues. The report classifies each section based on its condition and the urgency of repairs. A home inspector uses a color-coded system to make it easier to differentiate parts of the report.

Who can help me read a home inspection report? 

Most home inspection reports are easy to understand. However, there are many resources that can show you how to read the report, like InterNACHI®. Don’t hesitate to ask your inspector if you have questions, too.
You can also check ISN’s guide on how to read your home inspection report.

Can I do my home inspection?

A home inspection isn’t required by law. With that in mind, you might wonder, can I do my home inspection? While you can do your home inspection, hiring a certified home inspector is the best option.

A home inspector has home inspection tools that help to get the most accurate results. Without these tools, getting a good picture of a specific area of your home is not always easy.

You also won’t have the official home inspection report if you inspect the home yourself. As a seller, you can use this tool to negotiate with the buyer.

What should I look for in a home inspector? 

A home inspector should be licensed and certified. Your real estate agent could recommend an inspector, and your friends or family could also suggest one. Not every state regulates home inspectors, but if your state does, check if they have proper certifications and experience.

Here’s how you can check your home inspector’s credentials:

  • Ask to provide the inspector’s license 
  • Ask what training they have completed 
  • Request past home inspection reports
  • Check a home inspector’s website and social media 
  • Read online reviews
  • Interview a home inspector

Do you need a home inspection?

So, do you need a home inspection to buy a home? It’s one of the most common home inspection faqs. While a home inspection is not required, scheduling one before making an offer on a property is a good idea. The inspection provides you with an insight into the condition of a home.

Banks don’t require buyers to inspect a home to obtain a mortgage. But a home inspection is a worthy investment that protects a buyer from financial pitfalls.

Home insurance companies could require a home inspection depending on the property’s age and size. These companies use the data from a home inspection report for risk assessment and liability management.

What are common problems detected in home inspections?

The most common problems are moisture, electrical/plumbing systems, and foundation. Other common problems are the roof, improper insulation, and major appliances.

Keep in mind that most issues found during a home inspection are not going to break the deal. A buyer and seller usually talk the price over based on the extent of the issues.

Here’s a list of the most common issues found by home inspections:

  • HVAC problems
  • Electrical systems and faulty wires 
  • Issues with roofs and gutters
  • Inadequate drainage and grading around the property
  • Poor insulation and ventilation
  • Plumbing
  • Moisture and mold

What are low-cost common problems found in home inspections?

Some low-cost common problems include malfunctioning appliances, or blocked gutters and downspouts.

What are the expensive problems in a home inspection?

Expensive problems include roof, electrical system, and foundation. Some of these problems could need thousands of dollars to remediate.

What problems in a home inspection should raise red flags?

Significant problems include health hazards like asbestos, mold, or water damage. But normal home inspections don’t check for these issues, and each of them requires an additional fee. Foundation issues can also have a hefty price tag and cause buyers to back out of the deal.

What questions should I ask a home inspector before and after the inspection?

Before the inspection, ask your home inspector what they will and will not check. After the examination, ask your home inspector what the biggest issues are and how to fix them. A home inspector is not allowed to conduct repairs, but they can refer you to other professionals.

How much is the average home inspection?

The cost of an average home inspection is between $280 and $400. But this price could vary depending on many factors. An inspection could cost more for a big home or if a home inspector has to cover a longer distance to reach you. 

Home inspectors with years of experience also charge more than novice inspectors. If you want to hire an expert home inspector, expect to pay more.

Here are other components that can play into the price of your home inspection:

  • Age and size of the property
  • Location of the property
  • The condition of the local real estate market
  • The number of available home inspectors in your area

Ancillary services like asbestos, mold, or radon.

Who pays for the home inspection?

In most cases, the buyer will pay for the home inspection. Some sellers may offer to pay for it as an incentive or as part of the closing costs.

How do I know I can trust a home inspector?

Find several home inspectors near you and check their reviews and compare rates. You can also ask friends and family members about anyone they’d recommend. Your real estate agent may also refer you to a home inspector that they know.

Does the average home inspection include outdoor structures?

The average home inspection does not include swimming pools, sheds, or fencing. It also excludes pools. In most cases, the inspector will perform a quick visual overview of the home’s exterior and roof. You need to pay more or hire a separate inspector to inspect extra areas.

Do homes under construction need a home inspection?

Homes that are under construction don’t need a standard home inspection. They get inspected by municipal inspectors, as they need to meet local building codes. Local officials will issue a certificate of occupancy to certify that a house adheres to building codes.

Do new homes need a home inspection?

Although you might think new homes don’t require a home inspection, getting one is a good idea. If a home inspector finds flaws, you can ask a builder to address them before signing a contract.

Municipal home inspections cover all phases of construction. They include foundation and framing and electrical and plumbing systems. Their goal is to ensure that the new construction is up to building codes and meets basic standards.

That doesn’t mean that you should forego the independent home inspection. Hire an independent home inspector to stay on the safe side.

What type of properties requires a home inspection?

Any residential property that you want to buy should have a home inspection. It includes single-family homes, condos, townhouses, tiny houses, and even manufactured homes.

As a buyer, should I get a home inspection?

As a buyer, you should get a home inspection to protect you from any issues. When you buy a home, you become the sole person responsible for all repairs. That’s why you must check the property before buying it.

As a seller, should I get a home inspection?

Sellers are not required to do a pre-sale home inspection, but getting one is a good idea. A home inspection helps to identify the issues that need attention before putting your property on the market. 

While newer homes don’t always need a pre-sale inspection, doing it for an older property is a smart move. Older homes are prone to issues due to wear and tear, and these issues are not always clear to the naked eye.

How long does a home inspection take?

It should take two to four hours to complete a home inspection on a single-family home. Smaller properties like condos and tiny homes can take one to two hours to inspect.

The amount of time required for a home inspection depends on the size and age of the property. The more features a property has, the more time a home inspection takes.

Here’s a list of factors that could impact the amount of time that a home inspector needs to check a property:

  • Age and size of the property
  • Property’s location  
  • State and local regulations
  • Weather conditions (inclement weather could make it difficult to inspect roofs and outside areas)
  • The number of systems (HVAC, electrical, plumbing, etc.)
  • Extra services like radon, mold, asbestos, or water quality

How long is a home inspection good for?

A home inspection is only valid up to and including the inspection date. If you want to make an offer, move quickly to avoid any potential issues arising after the inspection.

Final thoughts on home inspection FAQs

The home inspection FAQs in this article can help you make a well-informed decision. A home inspection report gives you the knowledge to decide whether a property is right for you. After a home inspection is complete, you have a more accurate estimate of the required repairs and have better leverage in the negotiation process.