Home Inspection Basics

Hiring a home inspector is an integral part of the home buying process. Here are some basics that should considered when it comes to home inspection.


One of the most important parts of the home buying process is having the home inspected. You should never buy a home without having it thoroughly inspected. Imagine spending $250,000 on a new home only to find out later that the roof needed to be replaced. Would you have bought the home if you’d known this? Of course, not. A home inspector will comb through the home and return to you a thorough report listing aspects of the home that need repairing or maintaining.

Find a Home Inspector

The home buyer usually pays for the home inspection. You can locate professional home inspectors through the American Society of Home Inspectors or the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors. You might also ask friends and family members for a home inspector recommendation. Be careful about using a home inspector recommended by the home seller or the seller’s agent. It’s not uncommon for sellers or their agents to work with less-than-honest home inspectors who omit important details about home repairs.

If your state requires home inspectors to be licensed, make sure the inspector you hire has a current license. You might ask the inspector for a list of past clients you can contact as references. Find out what type of guarantees the inspector provides for the work completed and whether the inspector has professional errors and omission insurance. Finally, the cost and length of the home inspection are important factors that will influence your decision.

Having the Home Inspected

Typically, the home inspection comes after you’ve signed a sales contract.Make sure your contract includes a clause for the home inspection and letsyou back out of the sale if home inspector finds the home needs major repairs.

Here are the most common areas of the home that are inspected:

  • Heating system
  • Central air conditioning system
  • Interior plumbing system, including the type and condition of plumbing used. Most home inspections do not include sewer inspection.
  • Electrical system inspection of wiring, grounding, fans, main panel, ceiling fans, light fixtures, and circuit breakers.
  • Roof construction and gutters
  • Attic framing and ventilation
  • Walls
  • Ceilings
  • Floors
  • Windows
  • Doors
  • Foundation
  • Appliances
  • Garage
  • Basement and other structural components

Home inspectors will also check for things like asbestos, radon, formaldehyde, wood-destroying organisms, mold, mildew, fungi, rodents, and lead.

Home Inspection Results

A home inspection isn’t a pass-or-fail type of test. If the house inspection report shows problems it’s up to you, the buyer, to decide how you would like those problems solved. Some issues may be minor enough that you can fix them on your own. Or, you may ask the seller to reduce the price of the home in lieu of repairs that need to be made. In some cases, you might ask the seller to make the repairs before you purchase the home. Finally, some repairs might be so significant that you decide not to purchase the home at all. Talk with your home inspector about the results of the report and the impact and cost of making the repairs.

If you decide to have the home repaired, it’s in your interest to hire your own contractors. You want to have as much control as possible over the results of the repairs. Be aware that if the home seller is responsible for the cost, he may request that you have repairs done at the least expensive cost possible. Though your home inspector may not do the repairs himself, he may be able to recommend contractors that will.