Home Inspections: What You Need To Know

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By Andrea

A home inspector does a whole lot more than check for working outlets and make sure the dishwasher works.

If you are wondering if you really need a home inspector, chances are you do.


Here’s what you need to know about home inspections and how to find a good home inspector…

What Home Inspectors Do

A good home inspector checks the home in the following ways:

  • Makes sure it is structurally sound
  • Checks exterior structures such as balconies, decks, fascias, driveways, and drainage
  • Makes sure the roofing is in good condition
  • Makes sure the plumbing has no leaks the hot water heater is safe and working
  • Makes sure heating and air conditioning is in good condition and up to code
  • Makes sure walls and floors show no hidden signs of damage
  • Makes sure the home is properly ventilated and is without mold
  • Makes sure the appliances are operating properly (not all inspectors cover this)
  • Inspects fireplaces for blockages, damage, and other signs of problems

See this home inspection checklist to make sure your inspector covers all the bases.

That said, there are also some things that a home inspector will not check for.  You will be responsible for these on your own:

  • Termite inspection
  • Swimming pools
  • Septic systems
  • Underground heating oil tanks
  • Plants and shrubs
  • Asbestos
  • Radon and other gasses
  • Lead
  • Hidden mold and mildew

Remember, different states have different requirements for home inspections. So, be sure to find out what is required in your state.

Check with the American Society of Home Inspectors for existing home inspector regulatory legislation by state.


Who Hires The Home Inspector: Buyer or Seller?

Home inspectors typically cost $400 to $1,000 — depending on the size of the home, and also your locality.

Typically, home buyers pay for home inspections.  The reasoning is that the home inspector works for whoever pays him.  If you are the buyer, you want the home inspector to be most honest and obligated to you, rather than the seller.  This does not mean that he will be dishonest, but hiring the home inspector yourself will help to ensure against any improprieties.

Speaking of improprieties, you don’t want to hire a home inspector recommended to you by your realtor or mortgage broker.  You want someone who is not connected with anyone else who will benefit from the sale.

However, this doesn’t mean the home seller should not have their own home inspection done.  Paying for a home inspection before you put the home up for sale will save you from any embarrassing discoveries.  It also allows you to make repairs in advance.

The danger with waiting for the buyer’s home inspector to point out potential problems is that one single problem can make the buyer wary and they will likely suspect other potential problems.  They will be more inclined to blow small issues out of proportion and use these against you in negotiating the price of the home.  It is therefore best to hire a home inspector on your own as a precaution before the buyer’s inspector makes his report.

This video highlights the most common problems found by home inspectors:



How To Find A Good Home Inspector

When looking for a reputable home inspector, start with the National Association of Certified Home Inspectors (NACHI).

They will point you toward the best certified inspectors in your area.

By the way, their website also provides all the information you need if you are thinking about a career in home inspections.