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Checklist of What's Covered at a Home Inspection

By Bill Gassett | October 19, 2022

Buying or selling a home isn't easy, with potential problems before you close. The home inspection is part of the process that can lead to problems, but what does a home inspector do?

The home inspection is the buyer's opportunity to get a professional opinion on the home's condition. If you are unsure about what does a home inspection cover, we take a look so that you are better informed.

Is a Home Inspection Needed?

Sometimes the lender requires a home inspection to be completed, which shouldn't be confused with a home appraisal which is almost always required. Even if the lender doesn't require the home inspection, it is recommended.

With an inspection contingency included in the purchase contract, the buyer could walk away from the deal with the earnest money if serious problems are uncovered. But if the buyer chooses to waive this contingency and go without a home inspection, any problems will be their responsibility to deal with.

What is the Cost of a Home Inspection?

One of the most common questions from first time home buyers is how much does a home inspection cost. A typical home inspection costs between $300 and $800, and additional costs could be if extra checks are needed. The cost can also change depending on the size of the home and potentially the age.

Homes with more square footage are going to cost more to inspect because it will take the inspector longer to complete their inspections. Maximum Real Estate Exposure has an excellent guide on everything to know about the costs of a home inspection.

Inspecting a tiny home or small condo is going to be much less than a 4000 square foot luxury home.

What do home inspectors check?
What Do Home Inspections Cover?

What Are Other Things That Should Be inspected Outside of the Standard Home Inspection?

While a standard home inspection is typically very thorough, the inspector is generally just going to be looking at the structure. There are other potential inspections a buyer should consider. For example, if the home has a private well, the quality and quantity of the water should be checked.

Testing for radon is another common test that should be done. If the home was built before 1978 and you have children under the agent of six, it is wise to test for lead paint. Some inspectors will check for insect infestation or mold. Others do not.

When your inspector doesn't these things should be checked.

How Does a Home Inspection Help a Buyer?

A professional home inspector will check the property for any problems the buyer needs to know about. They will visually inspect the home throughout to create their written report detailing any issues they uncover.

When the buyer has this report, they can look through it and, with the help of their real estate agent, decide how to proceed. This might involve renegotiating the price, asking for repairs, or deciding to walk away from the deal altogether.

There are certain types of properties where a home inspection should never be skipped such as an abandoned home, hoarder house, or condemned property.

What Does a Home Inspection Cover?

The exact home inspection requirements differ slightly between the states, but there are some minimum standards of practice which will include these items. You can use this as your home inspection checklist.

Structure - foundations will be visually checked, and any evidence of sagging or bowing floors, walls, and ceilings will be noted. The stairs will also be looked at, as will windows and doors and the drainage system checked.

Grounds - what is the condition of driveways, sidewalks, and fences? Is there any indication of a leaking septic tank, and is the grading sufficient to avoid water entering the property?

Roof - is the roofing in good condition, and have there been any repairs that could indicate problems? Is the chimney damaged, and are the vents and gutters clear?

Attic - they will look for signs of water leaks and check for sufficient ventilation.

Exterior - they will check for a sufficient gap between the sidings and the ground. What is the condition of the exterior paintwork and sidings, and do lights and outlets work?

Safety - are there hand and guardrails where necessary, and do the fire and carbon monoxide alarms function? Are there fire sprinklers, and are they in good condition?

Electrical system - do the light fixtures, outlets, and fans function? Are the circuit breakers working correctly? They will check the wiring and ensure everything is up to code.

Plumbing - they will be on the lookout for leaking pipes and check the water temperature. Checks will be made to ensure the toilets, showers, sinks, and bathtubs function correctly.

HVAC - the furnace, air conditioning units, and water heaters will be checked.

Fireplace & Chimney - Is the chimney and fireplace in good condition?

Appliances - appliances will be checked to ensure they function correctly.

Garage - is the structure of the garage in good condition, does the door function, and are there any problems with the electrical system?

Basement - are there any signs of dampness in the basement, and are the foundations and walls solid?

Ventilation - is there enough ventilation in kitchens, bathrooms, and foundation areas? Do venting systems and fans function?

What Doesn't a Home Inspection Cover?

While home inspectors look at most things in the home, they don't cover everything. Additional specialist inspections may be required for some potential problems.

Additional inspections may be required if there is any indication of pests, radon gas, asbestos, and toxic mold. If the home has a swimming pool, this typically isn't covered by a standard inspection.

Finding a Home Inspector

When you need a home inspection, your real estate agent, friends, and family might have some recommendations. But before you hire anyone, make sure they are accredited by associations like the American Society of Home Inspectors. Members of ASHI have gone through additional rigorous training.

If you are new to the area and don't have anyone to ask for a home inspector recommendation, you can check Google. Do a search for home inspectors near me and you should come up with some helpful results. Make sure you ask the inspector what you will be getting for your money.

Final Thoughts

The home inspection is one of the most essential phases of the home buying process. It is usually not wise to waive a home inspection. Expensive problems can be uncovered that are not obvious to a layperson. The cost of a home inspection is a wise investment when you are making such as significant purchase.

If you love getting expert real estate advice in your inbox check out some more info at News Break?  Bill Gassett's real estate articles on News Break are filled with helpful tips. You'll find expert advice on general real estate, financing, mortgages, home improvement, moving, and more.

Bill Gassett is an authority in the real estate industry with 38 years of experience. Bill is well respected for his informative articles for buyers, sellers, and fellow real estate agents to make sound decisions. His work has been featured on RIS Media, the National Association of Realtors, Inman News, Newsbreak, Credit Sesame, Realty Biz News, and his own authoritative resource, Maximum Real Estate Exposure. He has been on of the top RE/MAX agents in New England over the last two decades.
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