What To Expect From A Home Inspection

Home Inspection Guide

Whether you’re selling your current home, or you’re shopping for a new house, chances are that you’ll need a home inspection at some point in the process. So, what can you expect and what’s covered and included in a home inspection?

Understanding Home Inspections

The Major Sections Of Your House 

Home inspectors are hired to perform a visual, detailed walk-through of the home that you’re looking to buy, and give a comprehensive review of the following sections of the home:

  • Roof – Some inspectors start with the roof, which includes the roof coverings (type and condition of shingles), gutters, downspouts, vents, flashings, skylights, chimney and other roof penetrations.
  • Exterior – One of the first things that an inspector does is inspect the exterior structure of the home, including the siding, eaves, soffits, fascia, windows, doors, trim, walkways, driveways, porches, decks, drainage and other basic structural elements of the house, to ensure that they are free of major issues.
  • Basement, Foundation, Crawlspace & Structure – An important part of the home inspection covers the foundation, basement and crawlspace. The important part here is differentiating major structural signs versus typical settling and hairline cracks.
  • Plumbing – Understanding the functionality and location of the main water and fuel shut-offs is very important. You’ll also learn about your water heater, operation of toilets, sinks, tubs, showers, drain, waste & vent systems, and sump pumps.
  • Electrical – Another critical area that includes service drops, conductors, mast, electrical meter and panels, grounding and bonding, testing a representative number of switches, lighting fixtures and receptacles (AFCI & GFCI), and the presence of smoke and carbon-monoxide detectors.
    Electrical systems will be checked, too. Fuse boxes and circuit breakers are tested, as are light switches, power outlets, and other electrical systems. 
  • Heating/Cooling Elements – The inspector will inspect the heating and cooling systems, using normal operating controls and describe the location of the thermostat, energy source and heating/cooling method.
  • Fireplace – If applicable, the inspector will check readily accessible portions of fireplaces & chimneys, lintels, damper doors, and clean out doors and frames.
  • Attic, Insulation & Ventilation – Making sure the home has sufficient insulation and ventilation can save problems down the road.
  • Doors, Windows & Interior – Checking a representative number of doors and windows, floors, walls and ceilings, stairways, railings, and the garage door and openers is all important since it’s the areas where you’ll spend the most time!

Throughout this process, the inspector will be taking notes, pictures, and other information about the home being examined.

What Home Inspectors Don’t Do

It’s a common misconception that home inspectors are expected to examine the home for issues like mold, pests, parasites, interior structural issues, asbestos, lead, and other potentially hidden issues.

This is usually not the case. To use a medical analogy, think of a home inspection as a “general check-up” – not a comprehensive, x-ray exam. The home you’re buying or selling will be assessed thoroughly – but specialized issues like mold or termites will sometimes require specialist inspectors.

Note: Some inspectors will be licensed to do termite inspections, radon testing, mold testing and more.

Inspectors also won’t necessarily be looking to see if a home complies with local building codes, and they won’t tell you things like whether or not you’re getting a good deal on your home, or give you an opinion on the value of a home.

Home inspectors also aren’t experts on HVAC systems, plumbing, electrical or any other major system of your home. They are generalists and not expected to check and catch issues from the inner workings of these systems.

What To Expect From Your Inspection

During the inspection, you are typically welcome to tag along with the inspector during the entire process, and ask them questions when they find something that’s wrong with the home, or you are wondering what they’re doing. This is expected, so most inspectors will invite you along and comment on what they’re seeing as they inspect each element of a home.

The time it takes for an inspection varies based on how many square feet the home is, but the vast majority of inspections will take about 2-3 hours, due to the complexity of examining each element of the home. 

Tip: Home inspectors have hundreds of points to check in any given home. Try not to ask them questions throughout the whole inspection. This will not only slow down the inspection, but this distracts them from focusing on doing the best job they can for you.

The Verbal Summary And A Written Report

At the end of an inspection, the inspector will give you a general overview of their findings as a verbal summary or show you on their phone/tablet.

They will outline any potential obvious issues, and potentially discuss what you should do to solve them, or whether they should be a cause for concern. They will also answer any questions that you still may have about the inspection.

After the verbal summary is made, a written home inspection report will be written by the inspector, and sent to you. This report will have a much more detailed outline about the state of the home, and is usually accompanied by high-quality photos, notes, and other general information about the home like styles and materials.

Know What To Expect From Your Next Home Inspection

A home inspection is the first step towards understanding the condition of the home that you’re buying, or selling – and it is absolutely essential! With a solid understanding of what to expect, you can focus on the next step of the transaction – negotiating with the seller on what fixes they’ll perform or if you’ll get a lower purchase price.

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Co-founder at Spectora
Kevin is co-founder of Spectora. He spends his days chatting with home inspectors, helping with their SEO & online marketing, and generally obsessing over how to create value for them.
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