How Much Does a Home Inspection Cost?
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A home inspection for a single-family home costs about $300 to $500, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). However, the cost of home inspection varies depending on a house's age, location and square footage, among other factors.
The cost of a home inspection will also depend upon the extent of the inspection. A four-point inspection examines only the major features of a house—the roofing and the electrical, plumbing, and heating, ventilation and air-condition (HVAC) systems—so a four-point inspection costs less than a full inspection.
A home inspector makes only a visual, non-invasive inspection, providing a written report on a home's systems and components.
What Is a Home Inspection, and What Does It Include?
A home inspection is a visual, non-invasive examination of a residence, whether a home or a mobile home. A home inspector cannot "fail" your house, as it is not a municipal inspection. A home inspection is not an appraisal: While an appraiser calculates the total value of a house and its land, a home inspector determines the integrity and general safety of a house. A full home inspection covers the following areas:
A home inspector will confirm that sprinkler systems as well as fire and carbon monoxide alarms are up to code and in working order. The condition and structural integrity of stairs, handrails and guardrails will be scrutinized, too.
Foundation and Structure
A foundation can be compromised by winter's ice and snow and summer's rain. While hairline fractures are common, a crack that's one-eighth of an inch or wider is a red flag. Evidence of settling or sinking can be seen in hard-to-open windows and doors as well as visible cracks near window and door frames and in the foundation's concrete. A foundation can also crack and become uneven due to "heaving," a form of settling that displaces soil from under the slab.
A home inspector will also look at the structure of the house itself, keeping an eye peeled for any bowing, sagging or sloping in the ceilings, floors, stairs and walls as well as any gaps between a wall and a window or door frame. Finally, the residence's drainage systems will be checked to determine whether they are adequate and working properly.
Your home's structure is covered by the dwelling component of your home insurance. A standard home insurance policy does not cover earthquakes or floods, but you can purchase additional coverage to cover these and other natural disasters.
"Flashing" directs water away from a roof's chimneys, roof depressions and walls. A "fascia," or the roofline, is the board that supports a gutter. An inspector will examine a roof's flashings and fascias as well as its vents, downspouts and gutters, making sure they are in working order and sufficiently long enough to carry water away from the house's foundation. An inspector will also examine the roof itself, looking for degraded or damaged roofing materials, broken or missing shingles, stagnant or pooling water, and damage from freezing and falling objects. Thick, solid white residue on a chimney's bricks are a sign of efflorescence, which could indicate that toxic fumes are entering the home through a cracked flue liner.
Visible signs of an jeopardized attic include moisture, mildew, mold, rust, leaks and water damage. An inspector will also look for blocked vents, air leaks, gaps and ice dams. The attic's insulation will be checked for proper installation; it should be evenly distributed, showing no signs of drifting. Finally, an excessively hot attic can cause asphalt shingles to deteriorate.
A typical inspection will check a kitchen's major built-in and free-standing appliances, including the refrigerator, range, dishwasher and garbage disposal. All electrical components should be in compliance with codes, which means properly installed and functioning ground fault circuit interrupters, floor- and wall-mount stabilizer brackets, and adequately gauged wires that are not precariously close to plumbing, especially beneath the kitchen sink.
An inspector will note an oven and burners that don't heat up, an ice maker that leaks, and refrigerator coils that are covered in dust and dirt. Slow or clogged drains, outdated galvanized pipes, and leaky fixtures, sinks and pipes will be noted, too. Finally, all vents should be functional and unobstructed; for example, the fan in a range's vent will be checked to make sure it's in working order.
A typical inspection will check a house's plumbing, looking for damaged or leaky pipes and poorly or non-functioning sinks, toilets, showers and bathtubs. One red flag is a washing machine with a bulging hose. An inspector will also look at the heating and cooling systems, checking the furnace, water heater, fireplace, chimney and air-conditioning.
As in the kitchen, a home inspector will examine the house's electrical apparatus, including the wiring, outlets, circuit breakers, fans and light fixtures, confirming that they are all up to code. Finally, the insulation, venting and ventilation fans will be checked not only in the attic but also in the kitchen, bathroom, laundry room and basement.
Humidity, moisture and dampness can lead to corrosion, mold, rot and a tell-tale funky smell. Even small basement leaks can cause a home's structure to be severely compromised over time. Cracks in a wall suggest there may be foundation issues. Any crawl spaces will be checked for leaks and puddles.
An inspector will look for any rot and decay on a house's exterior as well as any gaps, cracks, small holes or warping in the siding. An inspector may note fire damage. Small black specks may indicate the presence of mold under the siding, while algae on wooden siding is another red flag. Further, there should be a certain level of clearance between the siding and the ground. Bulging, cracked or blistered paint can indicate water damage.
A house inspection will also check that outside lights and electrical outlets are properly installed and functional. An inspector may note that trees, shrubs and other foliage are too close to the home.
The garage's framing, roof, ceiling, walls, windows and doors will be inspected. Electrical fixtures will be judged according to code compliance. Home insurance covers your garage, whether it is an attached or unattached structure. However, home insurance does not cover your vehicle.
The driveway, sidewalk, paths and fences will be examined by eye. This component of an inspection also examines the septic tank and the land's drainage capability.
Do I Need a Home Inspection?
No state or federal law requires a home inspection. However, if you are financing a house, your mortgage lender may require it to confirm that the house is a sound investment. The inspection may even be required as part of the closing process. Whether a home inspection is required by a lending institution or a home insurance company, the cost of the inspection is paid for by the customer.
Can I Buy Homeowners Insurance Without a Home Inspection?
Sometimes, home insurance can be purchased without a home inspection, but some home insurers and some homes may require it to determine a property's coverage needs. For example, your homeowners insurance carrier may require a four-point or full inspection as a condition of receiving coverage when your prospective house hasn't been recently inspected or is more than 25 years old.
What To Expect During a Home Inspection
You do not have to present while the inspector conducts their visual examination of your home, but the American Society of Home Inspectors recommends that you stick around. Since a home inspection is done using noninvasive methods, you shouldn't expect to see any damage to your house as the result of the inspection.
You should receive a final inspection report, including a written analysis, recommendations and pictures. You should receive the report 24 to 48 hours after the inspection.
How Much Does a Home Inspection Cost Per Square Foot?
Prices vary according to the home inspector and the house's type, age and location, among other factors. Let's look at a home inspection's average per-square-foot cost, according to ProMatcher, in Alabama, California, Florida, Minnesota and Pennsylvania:
|State||Square Footage||Average Home Inspection Cost|
|Alabama||2,000 or less||$382.67|
|4,000 or more||$622.34|
|California||2,000 or less||$344.72|
|4,000 or more||$622.35|
|Florida||2,000 or less||$288.16|
|4,000 or more||$552.61|
|Minnesota||2,000 or less||$377.25|
|4,000 or more||$726.75|
|Pennsylvania||2,000 or less||$320.67|
|4,000 or more||$564.82|
Many home inspectors are independent contractors, so you may be able to negotiate. On the other hand, some home-inspection businesses offer flat-rate fees. In New York, for example, the Home Inspection Gurus charge $399 for a home and $290 for a condo inspection.
How Long Does a Home Inspection Take?
Expect your home inspection to take two to three hours. If a home has more than one HVAC system, more than three bathrooms, several water heaters or, say, a lot of square footage, a full inspection may take longer. Of course, smaller residences, such as a condo, co-op or mobile home, will take less time.
Other Inspection Services
The following areas are typically not examined by home inspectors.
The EPA dictates the accreditation standards for asbestos inspectors. Prices vary. For example, Hesperia, Calif.-based Dynamic Inspections & Construction Services charges $30.00 to lab-test a sample and between $250 and $300 for a home inspection.
Engineering of Structure
If you want to have your house's structure inspected by a residential structural engineer, that service will cost about $600, or $100 to $150 an hour, according to Home Inspection Insider.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) and the surgeon general recommend testing all homes below the third floor for radon. According to Angi's Home Advisor, a radon inspection averages about $424, but prices can swing between $144 and $715. Home test kits can cost up to $30.
An inspector will scrutinize the pool's vinyl or plaster interior lining as well as any fencing, latches, electric fixtures, wiring, and the tile and decking around the pool. According to Houston-based All Coast Inspections, swimming pool inspections cost $125 to $250 or more.
Termites and Pests
A typical home inspection does not include termites, pests and other infestations, though an inspector may note visible evidence of such. If you want this specialized service, the NAIC places the cost at between $75 and $500, depending on the size and age of the property.
Choosing the Right Home Inspector
Most states require home inspectors to be licensed (California, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Utah and Wyoming do not). Most states require a home inspector to be certified and have a certain number of in-class and in-the-field hours. They must also have a clean criminal record. Some states require a home inspector to carry insurance coverage; for example, New York requires a home inspector to have minimum liability coverage of $150,000 per occurrence and $500,000 in aggregate. Find out what your state requirements are. If you're looking to hire a home inspector, the following resources offer listings:
The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) website
The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) website
The ProMatcher website
The Angi website
Home Inspections and Homeowners Insurance
Your mortgage lender may require a home inspection, especially if the house has not been recently inspected or it's 25 years old or older. Typically, a licensed and/or certified inspector will examine a house's general safety conditions and the following areas: foundation, structure, roof, attic, kitchen, basement, exterior, garage and the land. An inspection also includes the plumbing, heating, cooling and electrical systems as well as any insulation and venting. Inspections cost between $300 and $500, on average. Home inspections usually don't cover home structure's engineering, asbestos, radon, swimming pools or termites and pests.
You should inspect your home insurance the same way a home inspector inspects a house. First, see what your homeowners policy covers and doesn't cover. Next, look for a better, cheapest home insurance policy by comparing coverages and prices with SmartFinancial. Just enter your zip code or call 855-214-2291 for a free one-on-one consultation.