What is a home inspection?
A home inspection is a professional consulting service that determines the present condition of the home’s major systems, based on a visual inspection of accessible features. It focuses on the performance of the home, rather than cosmetic, code, or design issues. Inspections are often performed during a real estate transaction but may be done anytime.
A home inspection is:
- An in-field evaluation and professional opinion of the performance of the readily accessible installed systems in a home at one point in time
- Primarily a visual examination
- Intended to identify components that are significantly deficient, unsafe or near the end of their life
- Documented in a written report
A home inspection is not:
- An insurance policy, guarantee, or warranty on the home
- An invasive or destructive exercise
- Intended to identify concealed defects
- A code or design review
- Intended to predict future performance or life expectancy
- An environmental review or energy audit
- Electrical system
- Heating and Air Conditioning system
- Plumbing system
- Insulation and Air/Vapour Barriers
- Mechanical and Natural Ventilation systems
- Code, bylaw, and building regulation issues
- Swimming pools and spas
- Specialty systems including telephone, cable TV, alarm systems
Why should I get a home inspection?
Buying a home is typically the biggest investment you will ever make, so it’s important to get a home inspection because the inspector should be able to discover and document defects that may or may not be obvious to you as a prospective buyer. Such defects can range from simple replacements or repairs to severe damage or safety and health concerns. Additionally, most mortgage companies require a home inspection on a property before approving the home loan. Read InterNACHI’s Top 10 Reasons to Get a Home Inspection.
How much does a home inspection cost?
There is no set cost for a home inspection. The cost will vary based on the inspector, the local market, the geographic region, the scope of the inspection to be performed, and more. Before the inspection, you should find out what will be included in the inspection and what won’t, and these details should also be outlined in the inspection agreement that you will need to sign prior to the inspection.
Most home inspection prices are based on square footage. Other factors include the size and features of the house, its age, and additional considerations such as optional testing. It’s always a good idea to compare prices from several different home inspection services in your area, paying close attention to exactly what is included in the price.
Based on more than 80,000 home inspections conducted during the last year, data shows that the average home inspection costs $358.
Variables that will affect the cost include:
- Location/region/travel time
- Size of the home
- Age of the home
- How hot or cold the local real estate market is
- How many inspectors are in the area and how busy they are
- Additional services such as mold inspections or radon testing
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) gives a typical price range of $300-$500, and cautions that “cost does not necessarily reflect quality.”
How long does a home inspection take?
Depending on the home’s age, size, and location, as well as the home inspector’s own work protocols and ethics, your home inspection may take up to three hours. Adding square footage, outbuildings, and/or ancillary services (such as mold or radon testing) will increase that time. It may be necessary for your inspector to bring in a helper for a very large property. If your general home inspection takes significantly less than two to three hours, it may indicate that the inspector was not thorough enough. For an average size home, 2 to 3 hours is typical for how long an inspection should take.
At what point in the real estate transaction should I schedule a home inspection?
A home inspection is usually scheduled after an offer has been made and accepted, but before the closing date. That way, the inspector can rule out any major defects that could be dangerous or costly. In rare cases—due to timing or contractual issues—the inspection can be scheduled after the closing date. If this is the case, the home buyer should schedule the inspection for the earliest possible date after closing.
Should I be present for the inspection?
You should attend the inspection, and you should reconsider hiring an inspector who doesn’t allow this. You can learn a lot by following an inspector through the home. You will certainly gain a better understanding of the home’s condition, which will give you insight into its potential sale points and defects. Additionally, you will likely learn information about the home’s maintenance, systems, and components that may provide useful for the transaction.
What happens if the inspection reveals problems?
If your home inspection reveals any problems, it is important to understand the severity of the defect. For example, a missing shingle or dirty air filter can be easily fixed at a low cost. However, if the defect is more extreme, such as a major foundation crack, wood-destroying organism infestation, or evidence of mold, you should find out how these problems can be addressed, and whether you can negotiate their cost with the seller.
What should I do before a home inspection?
Do your research and make sure you hire a certified, reputable inspector. Make sure that you schedule the inspection for a time when you can walk through the home with the inspector so that they can tell you about their findings throughout the process, and you can ask them any questions you may have.