Everything You Need to Know About Real Estate Home Inspections

By Home Bay

Posted on February 3rd, 2016

Home inspections are an important part of the closing process when buying a home and this post takes a look at everything that’s involved. We’ll cover things like who pays for it, what’s evaluated, what the potential outcomes are and how each outcome impacts sellers. We’ve got a lot to cover, so let’s dive right in!


Who Pays For The Home Inspection?

Like all things in any real estate deal, the home inspection cost and who pays for it is a negotiable part of the sale. Sometimes home inspection costs are a deduction from the sales price. Other times, the buyer and seller share the costs equally.

That said, in most cases the buyer will pay for the home inspection to start off on good terms with the seller. Doing so also gives the buyer more control by allowing them to select the inspector, eliminating the risk that the seller could choose the least expensive option.

How Much Does a Home Inspection Cost?

A standard home inspection generally costs around $250 but can vary by area. If you opt to bring in specailized inspectors (explained a bit later in the post), your cost will increase.

What’s Most Commonly Covered in a Basic Home Inspection?

  • Structure & Foundation
    As part of the examination of the structural components of a home, the inspector looks at the foundation, wall construction, floors and ceiling construction to evaluate the structural integrit of the property.Some inspectors may object to going into a crawl space under a home to inspect the foundation or may ask buyers to sign a waiver saying that area is not covered by the inspection. For buyers, it’s best to choose an inspection company, that fully inspects foundation, even if they charge more. Doing so allows the inspector to look for underground cracks in the foundation that are costly to repair.
  • Garage Evaluation
    Areas and items included in this portion of the inspection:
    • foundation slab
    • walls for structural soundness
    • roof condition
    • entry door functionality
    • ceiling intactness
    • firewall adequacy between the garage and the home
    • garage door alignment and smooth operation of the garage door opener if one exists
    • light(s) operation
    • operation of electrical receptacles
    • proper ventilation
    • window(s) operation(if any exist)
  • Exterior Evaluation
    Areas and items included in this portion of the inspection:
    • general roof appearance (this does not include certification of the roof condition)
    • roof flashing and gutters
    • housing trim
    • wall construction
    • doors and windows
    • lot drainage
    • driveway(s)
    • electrical outlet(s)
    • fence(s)
    • landscaping
    • outdoor lighting
    • sidewalk(s)
  • Interior Evaluation
    Areas and items included in this portion of the inspection:
  • Appliances:
    smoke detection equipment, built-in microwaves, range, oven, dishwasher, garbage disposal, and any other appliances included in the home sale
  • Electrical:
    ceiling fan(s), exhaust fan(s), light fixtures, wall receptacles, main electrical panel, circuit breakers, proper grounding of electrical connections, and electrical wiring
  • Plumbing:
    faucets, showers, sinks, traps, toilets, drains, pipes, and waste pipe ventilation
  • Systems and Components:
    air conditioning, chimney(s), ductwork, fireplace(s), sprinklers, hot water heater, and furnace
  • Attic:
    structure, adequate insulation, and proper ventilation

Are There Different Types of Home Inspectors?

Yes. If you need someone to check specific systems that fall outside of the realm of the “basic home inspection”, you’ll need to hire a specialized inspector to do so.

Here are a few examples:

  • Sewer Line / Septic System Inspector:
    Certain plumbing companies offer sewer line inspection services. They use a small video camera on a long cable to insert into the sewer drains and pipes to check for breaks, cracks, and blockages.
  • Roof Certification Inspector:
    Some roofing companies offer roof inspections and warranties.
  • Termite/Insect Inspection:
    Pest control companies perform termite/insect infestation and damage inspections.
  • Asbestos, Lead Paint, and Radon Inspector:
    It’s not uncommon to find these hazardous materials in older homes, so your buyer may elect to bring in an inspector to evaluate the property.
  • Mold Contamination Inspector:
    This inspection can be more invasive and may require opening walls or removing tile in certain areas of the home if mold is detected.

What Happens After the Inspection?

The inspector will provide whoever hired them with a full written report about all the items inspected that are problematic and need repairs or remediation.

What Happens if Repairs are Needed?

In extreme cases, the buyer may cancel the sale if serious problems are discovered. However, this is rarely the circumstance. In most cases, the inspector provides a list of necessary fixes, the seller reviews the issues, then the seller decides whether they want to make repairs themselves or credit the buyer.

Sometimes fixes are little things, like replacing a bathtub stopper, putting up a new outlet cover or replacing a door jam. If the repair is something you can do quickly and affordably, we recommend handling it yourself.

With larger fixes, like installing new flooring, offering a credit for repairs is often a better alternative for both parties. Buyers won’t be worried that the you’re going to do the bare minimum to meet the obligation and they’ll be able to choose their own contractor and pick out the flooring they want. Also, waiting on larger repairs can really slow down the sale process, so offering a credit can be a good way to keep your sale moving along.

Now that you know all there is to know about home inspections, you’re prepared to tackle your own!

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Posted in Home Inspection