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What to Know About Home Inspections:
No matter how many HGTV shows you’ve watched, you still might be a bit fuzzy on the details of some of the terminology. Like what exactly is a home inspection? Why do you need to get your home inspected? Who’s responsible for having it done? Here are seven things everyone should know about home inspections.
1. What a Home Inspection Is
A home inspection is just what it sounds like - a visual examination of the physical structure and overall condition of a home, typically noninvasive (though there are exceptions). Performed by a home inspector, a home inspection typically occurs with the sale of a house.
2. What Home Inspections Cover
Not all home inspectors are created equal, so they don’t all cover the same areas in their inspection. Find out ahead of time what will be covered and what won’t be. You’ll want to make sure these things are included:
- Electrical system
- HVAC system
- Fireplaces (if applicable)
- General interior & exterior
Some inspectors may cover more than these areas, but this provides you with a good, basic list. Some inspectors may even offer additional services for an added cost, such as:
- Radon testing
A special certification is needed for these areas. If these services can be performed by another professional. It may be an additional cost but it’s cost-effective to catch these problems now.
3. What Home Inspections Don’t Cover
Home inspections don’t cover everything in your new place. Just because they aren’t inspected doesn’t mean that they can’t be, you may just need to get in touch with another professional or make a special arrangement with your inspector. These areas usually aren’t covered in a typical home inspection:
- Wall interiors
- Wells, sheds, detached garages or any additional structures separate from the main house
4. It’s the Buyer’s Responsibility
This means that it’s up to the buyer, to bring it up at negotiations, as well as find and pay for an inspector to come by.
While this may seem unfair, it’s really for the best. It leaves you in charge of who will be inspecting the property, so you can find a good home inspector who you know is going to do a good job. Their job is to point out potential problem areas in the home so it’s better if they’re working for you rather than the seller and have your interests at heart.
Build enough time into your contract with the seller to research, contact, and hire a well-reviewed and certified home inspector.
You'll want plenty of time to do this so that you don’t have to rush through the process. Give yourself a minimum of two weeks so that you can be somewhat flexible on setting up a date for the inspection.
Ideally, research home inspectors before you even make an offer so that you already have one in mind when it comes time to actually schedule the inspection.
5. Repairs After the Inspection Are Negotiable
Unlike the inspection itself, the potential repairs the inspector finds aren’t necessarily the financial burden of the buyer. They can be brought up and negotiated with the seller. There are a couple of options here:
- The seller can make the repairs
- The buyer can make the repairs
- The seller can credit the buyer the money for the repairs
An exception to this rule is homes that being sold “as is,” meaning that the seller is unwilling to make repairs or negotiate them. Typically these homes take this into account via a lower sale price. If you do make an offer on an “as is” home, expect potentially extensive repairs.
6. You Can Walk Away After the Inspection
If the home inspection reveals some truly disastrous problems, don’t stress - you can still walk away at this stage! As the buyer, you have the upper hand.
Say the home inspection revealed severe structural damage. As long as you contact the buyer within the inspection timeframe you set up (see #4) and have a justifiable reason, you should be able to just walk away, though sellers will often keep your initial deposit as collateral.
After you’ve signed off on the inspection negotiations it’s a different story and you’ll often face much bigger losses and even legal action (yikes!). Better to do it beforehand and avoid the drama.
7. How Much a Home Inspection Costs
This will vary depending on the size and age of the house, geographic location, and any add-on tests if you choose to do them like septic, asbestos, or radon testing.
The national average is currently $324, typically ranging between $277 and $388. These numbers aren’t concrete indicators of how much it will cost for your potential home though and you may find that yours costs less or more than that.
However, the cost of a home inspection shouldn’t deter you from choosing to have your home inspected. The peace of mind and potential money you’ll save down the road will more than makeup for it.
Stay tuned for more in this multiple-post series and learn all about what to expect when you’re inspecting!