How Much Does a Home Inspection Cost?

Jessica Nguyen
December 14, 2020

Let’s say your insurance provider informs you that they want to inspect your home, and now you’re wondering, what does that mean? It means that your provider wants a certified professional to assess your home for any safety concerns before approving or re-approving your insurance policy.

Or maybe you’re looking to buy a home and you’re wondering, how do I make sure that the home is in good condition before I buy it. Do I take the seller’s word for it? In short, no, it’s best if you get it professionally inspected first. Here’s all you need to know about home inspection and its costs.

What’s the Average Cost of a Home Inspection?

If your insurance provider has requested a home inspection, they will usually send an employee from a local inspection company or an employee to your home on their behalf. If this is the case, it may be free. They will simply examine your property and pass their report along to the underwriters. The underwriters then use that information to determine or re-determine your home’s insurability and insurance premiums.

But if you’re buying a home and you want to have it inspected before you close the deal, it’s going to be an out-of-pocket expense.

An inspector can set the price on factors such as:

The home’s square footage. For a standard inspection on a 2,000 square-foot home, the cost is $400-$600, and for every additional 500 square feet, it is about an extra $25. For smaller homes, there will usually be a flat rate of around $300-$400.

The presence of certain items on your property. For example, a pool, a spa or outbuildings.

The age of the home. Older homes have more wear and tear compared to newer ones, especially if the home underwent major renovations.

Optional (but highly recommended) inspection services you might want to add are:

Septic, $300-$600: A failed septic system can cause offensive odors, create a breeding ground for mosquitoes, and expose humans to microbial pathogens and parasites.

Termites, $75-$150: Termites feed on wood, such as support timbers, which can weaken those supports and cause problems with the home’s infrastructure.

Radon, $200-$220: Exposure to radon accounts for about 21,000 deaths from lung cancer each year according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

Asbestos, $400-$800: Asbestos is prone to flaking, which releases microscopic asbestos fibers into the air which can lead to serious illness if inhaled.

Mold, $300-$500: Not all molds are harmful, but some molds such as black mold or chaetomium can cause serious medical complications.

Sewer Scope, $85-$300: These are typically recommended for homes older than 20 years and will show any potential problems with the pipeline.

Thermal imaging, $250-$300: It can reveal moisture issues, electrical problems, rodent infestations, ventilation problems, structural concerns, missing insulation, and etc.

Why Does My Insurance Company Want to Inspect My Home?

Home inspections are part of an insurance underwriting process where your provider will require an inspection before insuring your home. Insurance companies do this as a way to protect themselves from surprises and potential risks in terms of losses and liabilities. An inspection will be ordered before your policy becomes active, and when it does, you should expect to receive a phone call or an email from your insurance provider.

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Should I Get a Home Inspected Before I Buy It?

Yes, as a buyer you can really benefit from home inspections, especially on older homes (homes that are more than 25 years old). Home inspectors are your ally because they can help uncover any red-flags that can give you leverage to either negotiate a lower price or allow you to walk away. Buying a home is an important investment and you don’t want to realize a year or two down the road that you purchased a money drain. Note: If sellers choose to do a pre-listing inspection at their own expense, they are required by law to share the results with potential buyers. This will help you make the wisest decision possible based on the most information available.

What’s Covered in a Home Inspection?

According to the American Society of Home Inspectors, a home inspection report should cover:

  • Heating system and air conditioning system.
  • Roof for shingle, flashing, and fascia problems.
  • Interior: insulation, framing, HVAC, plumbing, and electrical issues.
  • Exterior: rot, decay, and excavation problems.
  • Ceilings and floors for possible water or septic problems.
  • Structure: foundation, window or door problems.
  • Basement and structural components.

After the inspection is concluded, within a day or two, you should receive a report that includes summaries, checklists, notes and photos on the condition of the items on the list above. If you don’t receive a written report, you didn’t have a valid home inspection.

Can I Get Homeowner’s Insurance Without an Inspection?

If your home is new or the previous owner had a recent insurance inspection done, your insurance company may trust that the home is still in good shape and forego an inspection, but if not, then rarely will they let it slide. There’s no law anywhere stating that you must, but these inspections are vital in determining loss and liability, so insurance companies would be hesitant to gamble on such risks. It’s also important to note that appraisals are not the same as inspections and cannot usually be substituted for the other since an appraiser's goal is to determine your home’s value, not to inspect its safety.

Can I Get Home Insurance if I Fail an Inspection?

If the inspection doesn’t reveal anything unexpected or bad, your policy will either remain active or be approved. Sometimes, if your home is safer than you thought, you may end up with a discount!

On the flip side, if anything that could jeopardize your policy coverage is found during the inspection, your insurance company will notify you on what the problem is, explain how to fix it, and provide a timeframe for when it has to be fixed. Once repairs have been made, your provider will usually ask you to send in receipts and photo proof to document the changes. But if you fail to address the issues, your policy could be voided or can be canceled if your home is deemed to be too high risk. Most mortgage lenders require a home insurance policy so it’s important to take care of these matters so you don’t have a lapse in insurance.

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