If you’re not sure what to expect during a home inspection, you are not alone. But don’t be afraid to ask questions. It is perfectly normal (and recommended) to get information so you know what you will be paying for. I’ve compiled a list of my most asked questions as an inspector and answered them below. While you read these home inspection FAQ’s, keep in mind they may vary a little based on your location and the inspector you ultimately choose.
Am I required to have a home inspection?
In most cases, you are not required to have a home inspection because most lenders do not require an inspection. The choice to have a home inspection is normally left to the potential purchaser. Although it is normally a very good idea to have a home inspection, it’s ultimately your choice to have a home inspection or not.
Should I be present at the home inspection?
Yes. It is a very good idea to be at the home inspection. That way you can see what the inspector is finding and he or she can explain things to you. While most inspectors do not like to have their clients looking over their shoulders, most inspectors do welcome their clients at the inspection.
Also, all inspectors are different. Some inspectors explain things to their clients throughout the entire inspection, while others prefer to go over their findings at the end of the inspection. It may be best to ask your inspector if they prefer for you to be there for the entire inspection or to show up near the end of the inspection for the verbal report.
Will the home inspector find everything that’s wrong with the house?
No. A home inspector will not normally find everything that’s wrong with a home. This is a misconception that some home buyers or sellers have when getting a home inspection. A home inspection is not an exhaustive inspection of the home. It is a visual inspection only.
There are often hidden problems, such as inside walls, under insulation in the attic, under floor coverings, or behind furnishings in the home that an inspector cannot see. Also, an inspector is normally a generalist, and not an expert in all of the systems in a home. A home inspector does not dismantle any equipment and look inside it like a heating and air conditioning specialist would do, for example. Therefore, there can be problems that require a more advanced inspection or higher level of expertise in order to identify.
Can’t I just hire specialists to do my inspection for me?
Sure you can, if you have the money to spend. Hiring a licensed roofer, foundation expert, electrician, plumber, HVAC technician, fireplace/chimney technician, appliance specialist, etc. will be quite expensive. If you do this, you will get a very thorough inspection of those systems. It will certainly be more thorough than the inspection that a home inspector will provide you, but this would likely cost you thousands of dollars.
It is very likely that these licensed people would find issues that the home inspector would not discover. This is because the home inspector spends two to four hours inspecting all the systems within the home while a specialist would spend an hour or two just inspecting one system that he or she is licensed to service and inspect.
Home inspectors have been trained to a certain level in all the areas covered in a home inspection. Using this training, they are a very good value for your money and should be able to give you a good idea of the condition of all of the systems in the home that you are considering purchasing.
What if problems are found during the inspection?
Almost every home has “problems.” The majority of these problems are minor, but sometimes significant problems are discovered during a home inspection. Don’t be surprised if your inspection report shows several problems with the home. This is the purpose of a home inspection – to identify these issues so that you will know what deficiencies there are and so you can then negotiate with the seller for some of those items to be repaired.
Are the sellers required to fix everything found during the inspection?
No. The sellers are not required to fix everything found during the home inspection. In fact, they’re normally not “required“ to fix anything found during the home inspection. The home inspection report is not a to-do list or a repair list for the seller. It is a report to help the prospective buyer to know the current condition of the home that he or she is considering purchasing. The home inspection and report should be used by the prospective buyer to determine if they still want to go forward with the purchase, and to negotiate with the seller for certain repairs to be made prior to the purchase.
Should I ask for everything that the inspector found to be repaired by the seller?
It is normally not reasonable to expect the seller to repair every problem identified on the home inspection report. Unless it is a brand-new home, you cannot expect the house to be “perfect”. An older/used house usually does not cost as much as the same size brand-new house. One of the reasons for this is that being older, it will have some wear and tear and will not be perfect. It is not normally reasonable to expect the current homeowner to make the house “perfect“ for you or to bring it up to today’s standards. Obviously, if serious issues are found during the inspection, or if there are appliances that don’t work, or safety issues, etc., it is perfectly reasonable to ask for these items to be fixed.
How long does a home inspection take?
The typical home inspection will last between two and four hours. There are many factors that can affect the length of the inspection. These factors include the inspector, the size of the house, the age of the house, additional inspections such as wood destroying insect, mold, radon, pool, sprinkler system, etc. If your inspector does not initially give you an idea of how long the inspection will take, it shouldn’t be a problem to ask.
What if the house fails the inspection?
A house will not “fail“ an inspection. Home inspections are not pass/fail inspections. They are simply inspections that point out the condition of the home and the problems with the home. It is certainly possible for some serious items to be discovered during a home inspection that would make it a good idea to not go forward with the purchase, and in this sense, you could consider that the home failed the inspection. However, the home inspector does not pass or fail a home during an inspection.
I have a relative/friend who knows a lot about houses. Can he inspect the home for me?
Maybe, but probably not. This person can likely inspect parts of the home quite well, but it is unlikely that he will be familiar with all of the systems that a home inspector normally inspects. It is also unlikely that he is familiar with all the codes/standards covering these systems – some of which are life/safety issues.
What all is inspected during a home inspection?
A normal home inspection will cover almost every system in the home. Here is a list of what is normally covered in a home inspection.
Attic and roof structure
Interior and exterior walls
Electric service and branch circuits
Water supply lines and fixtures
Drain waste and vent systems
Ovens and cooktops
Bathroom exhaust fans
Garage door operators
Other things such as lawn irrigation systems, swimming pools, hot tubs, septic systems, and water wells are sometimes inspected as a separate inspection for a separate fee.
How much will the inspection cost?
Home inspection costs vary depending on the location among other factors. An inspection on a midsize (1700 square-foot) home could range from about $250 to $500. While it is advisable to shop around for a home inspector, it is not normally a good idea to choose your home inspector based on price alone. For such an important purchase, there are many other factors that you should also consider such as the inspector’s experience, the type/quality of report produced, the inspector’s thoroughness, training, etc.
FAQ’s about Home InspectionsI hope this list of home inspection FAQ’s was helpful to you. I know the process of buying or selling a home is stressful enough, and home inspectors don’t want to add to that. In fact, we as inspectors strive to take away some of that stress by giving you a general idea of the health of the home. Please leave a comment below or reach out to me if you have any questions about what to expect in a home inspection.
© 2020 Mike Morgan
This article was co-written by Mike Morgan, owner of Morgan Inspection Services, and Kayla Perdue, Digital Marketing Manager. Morgan Inspection Services has been providing home, septic and well inspection services throughout the central Texas area since 2002. He can be reached at 325-998-4663 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. No article, or portion thereof, may be reproduced or copied without prior written consent of Mike Morgan.