Understanding Home Inspection Costs: What To Expect When You're Inspecting
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A home inspection can cost between $100 to $500 depending on the type of inspection, the size of the home and its age, among other factors. A report can unveil several details about a property including its structural integrity and the condition of its plumbing and electrical systems.
Homebuyers should order a home inspection so they can make an informed decision before closing on a new home purchase. Read on to learn what a home inspection report covers and tips for finding a reputable home inspector.
What Is a Home Inspection?
An average home inspection thoroughly assesses a house's structure and systems, from the roof to the foundation. Within 24 to 48 hours of the inspection process, the inspector provides a detailed house inspection report with pictures, analysis and recommendations, covering aspects like heating, air conditioning, plumbing, electrical systems, the roof and other components of the home.
In some cases, homebuyers can use the report’s findings to negotiate the price of a home or even make the purchase of the home contingent on issues pointed out in the findings being fixed.
What Do Home Inspectors Look For?
What your inspector looks for is going to vary depending on the type of inspection but will generally include the following:
- Structural integrity: Inspectors check the foundation, floors, walls and ceilings for signs of damage or instability. This includes cracks, sagging and other structural issues that could indicate problems.
- Roofing: The condition of the roof, including shingles, flashing and gutters, is assessed to identify leaks, damages or potential for future issues. Inspectors look for signs of deterioration such as broken or missing shingles and moisture problems.
- Electrical system: Inspectors evaluate the electrical panel, wiring, outlets and switches for safety and code compliance, including outdated systems, exposed wires and other hazards.
- Plumbing: This includes checking pipes, faucets, showers and toilets for leaks, blockages, corrosion and even structural damage. The inspector may also assess the water heater, sump pumps and sewer lines.
- Heating and cooling systems: Inspectors check for the efficacy of your HVAC system, potential leaks and the age of the system.
- Windows and doors: They should open and close properly. Inspectors check for signs of water damage, poor installation and if the door is appropriate (fire doors for certain homes).
- Other interior elements: Floors, walls, ceilings, stairs and railings are examined for safety and condition.
- Basement or crawlspace: These areas are inspected for water damage, mold growth and structural integrity.
- Exterior: This includes siding, paint, outdoor decks, driveways and walkways. Inspectors will take note of any structures that do not appear to be up to code.
- Insulation and ventilation: Proper insulation and ventilation in the attic and other areas are crucial for energy efficiency and moisture control. Inspectors use thermal imaging to detect temperature variations and blower door tests to find air leaks, indicating insulation gaps or damage.
- Pest infestation: Inspectors look for signs of pests like termites, rodents or other critters.
- Safety features: This includes checking smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and fire safety equipment such as fire extinguishers.
- Potential environmental hazards: Inspectors may look for asbestos, lead paint, radon or other hazardous materials. Inspectors may also test the air quality of a room to check for mold.
- Appliances: Built-in appliances are tested to ensure they are functioning properly.
It's important to note that while home inspectors provide a comprehensive review of a property, they don't necessarily have the ability to see behind walls or under floors, so some issues may remain undetected. Additionally, a professional home inspection is not a pass/fail test but rather a detailed report on the property's condition at the time of the inspection.
How Long Does a Home Inspection Take?
Several factors can determine the length of a home inspection, with size being a prominent determiner. According to Aaron Miranda, a certified master inspector and the president of California-based Vecino Home Inspection, larger homes can contain multiple HVAC units and kitchenettes that can add to the inspection time.
"If I had to bring it down to an average length of time it would be somewhere between two and three hours,” Miranda said.
Adding additional services, such as a termite, mold or radon inspection, can result in the inspection taking even longer.
If you have the opportunity, you can be present during the inspection process so you can ask questions and see issues immediately.
When Are Home Inspections Required?
Home inspections may be required by your lender before they facilitate your loan. However, this isn't always the case. Regardless of the requirement, it is often suggested to get a home inspection for any prospective home. Otherwise, you risk moving into a house with potential hazards, such as unstable structures and mold or mildew from water damage.
How Much Does a Home Inspection Cost?
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, an average home inspection costs between $300 and $500, depending on the location of the house, its square footage, age and other factors.
Keep in mind that the type of inspection will play a factor in what you pay as well. For example, a 4-point inspection, which is less comprehensive than a full inspection but still asseses your home's roof, electrical system, plumbing and HVAC system, will generally land between $100 to $175 according to Miranda.
How Do I Find a Home Inspector?
Your real estate agent might suggest certified home inspectors they've previously worked with, which is a useful starting point. You can also find home inspector services online. Regardless of who you choose, it's wise to read online reviews about home inspection companies and their employees.
It's also important to hire a certified inspector, like those certified by the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) who must pass the National Home Inspector Examination and have completed a minimum of 250 paid inspections. You may want to request a sample inspection report from a similar home to gauge the inspector's thoroughness and communication skills in reporting issues.
What Determines the Cost of a Home Inspection?
First and foremost, the size of the home plays a crucial role; larger homes require more time and effort to inspect, leading to higher costs. The location of the property also matters as prices can vary significantly by region, reflecting local market rates and the cost of living. Additionally, the age of the home can impact the price, as older homes may have more complex issues requiring a more thorough inspection.
The inspector's experience and credentials can also affect the housing inspection cost, with highly qualified professionals often charging more for their expertise. Finally, the scope of the inspection — whether it's a standard inspection or if it includes additional services like radon, mold or pest inspections — can also increase the overall price.