Home Inspections: Everything You Need to Know

Written by Elijah BishopUpdated: 19th Jan 2022
Share this article

Disclaimer: This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation (at no cost to you) when you click on links to those products. Read our Disclaimer Policy for more information.

If you’re considering purchasing a home in the nearest future, it’s critical not to overlook the home inspection. A home inspection is your final chance to discover any defects in the house you are about to purchase.

During the inspection, a certified home inspector will examine the house in detail and note any concealed problems. In the worst-case situation, an inspection may prevent you from making a poor investment decision.

In the best-case scenario, you’ll gain confidence in the condition of the home you’re about to acquire. This article will examine the house inspection procedure in further detail and inform you of all you need to know.

What Is a Home Inspection?

A licensed home inspector conducts a visual assessment of the property during a home inspection. This person has been trained to identify concerns that may cause problems in the future.

For example, a home inspection may reveal foundation flaws, roof problems, or plumbing issues. When the inspection is finished, the inspector will write a report outlining their findings. You can look over the home inspector’s report to better understand any underlying issues with the property.

On the other hand, a house inspection is not the same as a home appraisal. An appraisal estimates the value of your home but does not check for specific problems.

>> More: See the Best Mortgage Lenders

What Happens During a Home Inspection? 

A home inspector should spend several hours conducting a thorough walk-through of the home you’re considering purchasing. During that time, the inspector will take notes and photographs and, if you accompany them, will make observations about what they see. Most importantly, the inspector will provide an unbiased assessment of the home’s condition, free of the emotional rollercoaster that has been your home buying experience.

An inspector may have a thought or two on child-safety concerns discovered in the home, but this, too, is contingent upon the inspector’s expertise and abilities. Additionally, a home inspector may not always establish if your home complies with applicable building codes.

Additionally, they will refrain from commenting on anything cosmetic unless it reveals a broader issue. For instance, they may point out a spot on the ceiling indicative of water damage.

While inspectors should be meticulous, they will not identify the unseen. This implies that concealed vermin, asbestos, mold, or other potentially harmful materials may go unnoticed. Areas that are not easily accessible, such as the septic tank, will also be excluded. These are the types of issues that may necessitate expert evaluations.

>> More: What Is a Home Inspection Contingency?

What Does a Home Inspection Cover? 

While a professional home inspection checklist may differ, home inspectors are concerned with a property’s physical components and systems — both inside and out. Knowing what a typical home inspection includes (and excludes) will help you decide what to do next.

Your inspector will examine the following areas:


  • Garages and carports
  • Exterior doors
  • Drainage, grading, plants, and retaining walls
  • Wallcoverings, flashing, and trim
  • Driveways, patios, and walkways
  • Balconies, decks, steps, porches, and railings
  • Eaves, fascias, and soffits (if visible)
  • Roof (including chimneys and other roof penetrations like skylights)
  • Downspouts and gutters


  • Doors and windows
  • Garage doors and operators
  • Installed kitchen appliances
  • Walls, floors, and ceilings
  • Ductwork
  • Cabinets and countertops
  • Foundation
  • Fuel-burning fireplace and stoves


  • Water heater
  • Fixtures and faucets
  • Sump pumps
  • Sewage ejectors
  • Drain, vent, and waste systems


  • Service equipment, drops, grounding, and main disconnects
  • Service cables, entrance conductors, and raceways
  • Light fixtures, receptacles, and power switches
  • Overcurrent protection devices
  • Circuit interrupters
  • HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning), including thermostats, vents, distribution systems, access panels, insulation, and vapor retarders

What Is Not Covered in a Home Inspection? 

A house inspection is thorough, but it does not cover everything. Testing that necessitates the use of specialized equipment, in particular, will be carried out individually. Home inspectors, for example, will not test for radon, a naturally occurring gas that can cause cancer. If the house hasn’t had a radon test in a while, you’ll need to get one.

Home inspectors do not check for pest or termite problems, but they may recommend a pest inspection if they suspect a problem. Furthermore, the home inspection will not reveal any mold or asbestos issues. Finally, if you reside in an area with many wells and septic systems, you’ll need to engage a well inspector to complete a water quality test and a septic inspection.

>> More: How to Apply for a Mortgage

How to Hire a Home Inspector 

In most real estate transactions, home inspectors play an important role. It’s simple to see why choosing the appropriate home inspector is essential. You want to know that the house you’re buying will be a good fit for you. Given the importance of the work of a home inspector, it is critical to select an experienced one.

Here are a few things to think about when looking for a house inspector:

  • Obtain a recommendation from your real estate agent.
  • Look for a bonded and insured provider.
  • Check to ensure that the inspection firm only performs inspections, not home repairs and improvements.
  • Learn what the inspection entails and how long it will take.
  • Obtain recommendations for any prospective house inspectors.
  • Please confirm that you will be able to accompany the inspector as they walk through the house.
  • Request a sample inspection report.
  • Compare the costs of employing various companies.
  • See if you can find a home inspector who has experience with the type of home you’re interested in.
  • Select an ASHI-certified or InterNACHI-certified inspector. These are well-known organizations that provide home inspectors with advanced training and certification.

You may also wish to use Google to assist you in finding a house inspection. Try googling for “house inspection near me” or ” home inspectors near me.” An online search should yield a plethora of possibilities for local house inspections.

When Does the Home Inspection Happen? 

The home inspection takes place after the seller accepts your offer before you purchase the house. You’ll want to schedule a home inspection as soon as you’re under contract to allow for extra inspections or negotiations with the seller. 

How Much Does a Home Inspection Cost? 

Home inspections can cost $300 to $500 or more, so you want to get value for your money. Unlike many other closing charges, the house inspector is usually paid upfront.

What Should You Look for In a Home Inspection Report? 

Because no home is flawless, the inspection report will certainly reveal flaws. Water damage and electrical concerns are two significant issues you should never compromise on.

Water damage can lead to mold growth, which has significant health implications. A mold inspection is required if the report indicates that the residence has been flooded or that the roof is leaking. Water damage can cause structural issues with a home.

And if the report mentions electrical issues, that’s another red sign. Electrical problems can start a fire and pose a severe safety risk.

Who Pays for a Home Inspection? 

The buyer normally foots the bill. Some insist the seller pays while making an offer. So that’s up for discussion. Before making an offer, sellers may get their house inspection. That can reassure buyers. And it can help the owner solve faults before marketing the property.

But not all home buyers will accept a seller-paid report. Experts advise home buyers to conduct their inspection unaffiliated with the seller or the seller’s Realtor.

Is a Home Inspection Really Worth It? 

Many people opt out of getting a home inspection. They may not want to pay the money or believe that it does not need to be examined because the house is newer. That’s understandable but not always wise. 

A home is one of the biggest expenditures you’ll ever make, and not having it inspected could lead to severe concerns that impair its livability and value. An inspection reduces the probability of missing something. 

While home inspections don’t ensure that a house won’t have issues, but they lessen the likelihood of being surprised. This can significantly impact how you feel about the house you buy and how much money you have to pay into it afterward. 

After the home inspection, you can determine if you still want to buy the house. If the answer is no, you can use the inspection clause in your real estate purchase and sale contract to cancel the sale and buy another residence.

Do I have to be there for a Home Inspection?

You do not have to be there for a house inspection, but you may find it helpful to observe. It may allow you to hear comments not included in the final report or ask questions on the spot.

Are Home Inspections a Requirement? 

Home inspections are a good idea when buying a house since they give you a better idea of its condition. But mortgage loans rarely require inspections. Lenders typically require home appraisals before funding a loan, but this is not the same.

What Happens After a Home Inspection? 

Your agent and online mortgage lenderwill give you a copy of the final home inspection report. You should get one too. If necessary, you can use this report to bargain with the seller. This gives the seller the option to make the repairs, pay for the repairs, or renegotiate the price. You can also pick whether to ask the seller to rectify the issues or fix them yourself.

What Fixes Are Mandatory After a Home Inspection? 

What counts as a mandatory fix following a home inspection depends on your state and contract. In many cases, sellers are not legally compelled to undertake any repairs, though buyers can ask for them. So, what fixes might be required? If your area requires sellers to repair specific issues before a sale can proceed, the fixes are typically structural. These are a few:

  • Mold and water damage
  • Foundation or other structural damage to the home
  • Home electrical system damage
  • Roof damage Severe plumbing issues
  • Numerous HVAC issues
  • Pests, rodents, or insects
  • Code violations

In all of these circumstances, the modification is required because the future tenant is in danger, not because it is an inconvenience or future expense.

What Should You Ask During a Home Inspection? 

Buying a home is one of the most significant purchases you’ll ever make, so you’ll want to do it right. The following are some of the questions you should ask your home inspector.

Before the Inspection Begins

  • What will you be checking, and what will you not be checking?
  • How long does a home inspection take?
  • Can I join you during the inspection?

During the Home Inspection

  • Can you please tell me more about that?
  • Is that a major or minor problem?
  • What should I be most concerned about with this property?

After the Home Inspection is Complete

  • When will I get my report?
  • Do I need to hire a specialist for a follow-up inspection?
  • What should I do the day I move in?

Home Inspection vs. Appraisal 

A house appraisal establishes the property’s value, whereas a home inspection establishes the property’s condition. Furthermore, because each has a distinct objective, there are a few distinctions between appraisals and inspections:

  • Lenders require appraisals of homes. That is not the case with home inspections.
  • You are responsible for scheduling an inspection, whereas the lender will arrange an appraisal.
  • A loan appraisal may affect your capacity to get the required loan amount. This is not the case with an inspection.
  • Appraisers often focus on apparent faults to the human eye, whereas inspectors utilize specialized equipment and training to identify more severe problems.
  • Homebuyers are permitted and encouraged to accompany the inspector during the inspection. In most cases, an appraiser will conduct the appraisal process independently.
  • Throughout the interactive process, an inspector will clarify and educate. An appraiser will not communicate their findings to you until their report is ready.
  • A home inspector will only look at the structure’s condition when assessing a home. A home appraisal considers the condition of the home, comparable home prices, the size of the lot, the characteristics of the home, the crime rate in the neighborhood, and the school zone.

Bottom Line: Home Inspections 

If you’ve discovered your dream house, a home inspection may seem unnecessary. But home inspections are essential since they provide you with a better grasp of the home you’re about to buy.

While home inspections are optional, it is wise to get one. That is because it could spare you from buying a dangerous property for your family. Also, include an inspection contingency in your offer letter.

Keep Reading:

Elijah Bishop
Elijah Bishop

Elijah A. Bishop is a Senior Personal Finance Writer who has been writing about real estate and mortgages for years. He has a Bachelors of Arts Degree in Creative writing from Georgia State University and has also attended the Climer School of Real Estate. He also holds a realtor license and has been in and out of the US mortgage industry as a loan officer. Bringing over 15 years of experience, Elijah produces content that analyzes ethnicities, race, and financial well-being. His areas of expertise are mortgages, real estate, and personal loans.