What to expect with a home inspection

What to expect with the home inspectionWhen you are thinking about purchasing a new home, there is certainly an enormous amount of information to consider. From choosing the right realtor to determining what you can afford, there are many items on the list that deserve your careful attention. There is one piece in the entire buying process that has the potential to derail the entire purchase. This is the all-important home inspection. A vast majority of these are performed without major issues. But a fair number of them can cause pause. So let's discuss what the home inspection is, why we need one,  and what potential items can cause buyers to go back to the negotiating table with the seller.

So What is a Home Inspection

A home inspection involves a licensed real estate inspector who will visually analyze the entire home. Some of the items they will be checking include:

  • Heating and air conditioning 
  • Electrical systems
  • The roof and chimney if applicable
  • Ceilings, walls, 
  • Flooring
  • The foundation
  • Appliances
  • Structural systems

While they won't be making any repairs, they have an entire checklist of items that need to be analyzed. The individual who purchases the inspection will receive a detailed report after the completion. Don't expect the report to include a pass/fail scenario. It will simply explain all the defects that were discovered.

Home Inspection Cost

A buyer shouldn’t worry about the cost, as it will be insignificant when compared to the price of the home. In some instances, a homeowner will actually pre-pay for the report. These types of owners usually have lived in the home for a significant amount of time and they know there will be several defects.

The actual cost will vary. What usually determines the amount will be the age of the dwelling, the location, and of course the square footage. A typical inspection should be in the neighborhood of between $200-$600.

Choosing the Right Person

Although this will not be required, a knowledgeable and trained inspector should perform this inspection service. Different states will have varying types of training. So an inspector in Dallas will have knowledge that varies from a home inspector in Santa Rosa Beach Florida. Don’t think that you can do this on your own. Even the most intelligent homeowner certainly doesn’t have the resources to accomplish this on their own. A third party will be needed in the event there are more negotiations that need to take place.

Why We Get Inspections

The reason we get inspections is to determine what kind of shape the house is in. This certainly can save a buyer from making a costly purchasing decision. If you are a seller who knows there are several defects, you might choose to purchase the inspection before you put your home on the market. This can give you time to make any repairs needed.

If you’re a buyer, there are only one or two reasons why you would choose not to pay for an inspection.

The seller has already purchased the service and you are satisfied with the inspector's credentials.

There are one or two offers on the home already. If you really desire the home, you could have your agent relay to the seller’s agent that you will proceed without an inspection. This might be music to the seller’s ears. But beware. You could be potentially shooting yourself in the foot.

Quick Tips

If you are the buyer and are paying for the inspection, here are some quick guidelines you can use. Remember, you will need to locate the home inspector or use a referral from your agent. We also recommend that you attend the inspection as it is performed.

Be sure to attend and ask your real estate agent also to be present.
Don’t bother the actual inspector as he or she performs his or her duties. They may converse with you during this time, but stay out of their way. If they do speak with you during the process, you might learn valuable information that wasn’t in the report.
Before they begin, ask them if they will answer a few questions when they have concluded the entire inspection.
They should email or mail you a complete report. Prepare yourself. If you haven’t ever viewed one of these before, be prepared that they can be overwhelming. You should know that all homes will have minor defects. The list will be quite long. They all don’t require a repair, though. Your real estate agent should also view the report and help explain the inspector's findings.

What’s in the Report

The report should be extremely thorough. Remember, there will be plenty of items listed. Make sure you have a quiet place to inspect the document. You also should be able to contact your inspector with any follow-up questions as well.

The report might include the following defects:

Cracks in the foundation
Rodent activity in the attic
Stain on rafters
Any appliances that are not working include dishwasher, oven and stovetop, microwave, etc.
Crack in sheetrock
Loose doorknobs
Missing screens
Out-of-balance ceiling fans
No carbon monoxide detectors
Electrical problems
Faulty water heaters
Problems with the HVAC
Leaks from any of the faucets were showers
Missing GFI
Wood rot
Issues with windows' thermal barrier, opening and closing, and screens
Doors not closing properly
Roof problems
A good and thorough report probably will scare you away. That’s why it’s good to follow up with your inspector as well as your real estate agent.


Remember, the purpose of the inspection shouldn’t be to go back to the seller and petition for a lower price. But certain repairs are certainly warranted. You don’t want to move into a home with rodents. Nor do you want to purchase a home that has potential foundation issues.

Have your agent relay the inspection report to the seller’s agent. They will hand it to the seller.

As a buyer, you will have a couple of different options at this point.

Have the seller agree to make certain repairs before you close on the home.
Ask the seller for cash to make certain repairs on the dwelling
Ask the seller to lower the cost of the home in order to cover the repairs needed.
Now we have come to the final stages in the entire inspection process. Usually one of the following instances will occur.

You are satisfied with the inspection report and you continue to move forward and intend to purchase the home.
The seller agrees to either make the repairs, offer you cash, or discount the house so the sale goes through
The seller won’t budge, you will have to decide how you want to proceed.

Final Conclusions

A home inspection should almost always be performed. Avoiding one can cost the buyer dearly.
Make sure you hire a qualified and licensed home inspector.
You can negotiate repairs. But don’t use this as an opportunity to haggle over the price of the home. All you’re trying to do is decide how much the seller is willing to cover for the appropriate repairs.

Additional Real Estate Resources

Michelle Gibson talks to her readers about whether or not home inspectors are always correct. It is important to understand the limits of the home inspector. If they are well trained they should catch most of the big mistakes or problems in the house but they are human.

Once your home inspection is completed you will need to do a few things. Sharon Paxton discusses what you negotiate after the home inspection.

Find out why Xavier De Buck thinks that you should get a home inspection before you buy a home.

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