Buying a new house is an exciting milestone that most people dream of experiencing one day. Whether you’re buying a new house or are thinking about taking the leap, there is one step you won’t want to miss before making your purchase; we’re talking of course about home inspections.
Home inspections are a vital step in assessing the condition and value of your home that helps the homebuying process run smoothly for both the buyer and seller.
In this guide, we’re breaking down everything you need to know about home inspections, including how they work, the benefits, and costs for a successful home buying experience.
What is a home inspection?
A home inspection is the examination of a home that allows potential buyers to view the property and uncover any problems before purchasing. It’s an opportunity to negotiate any final deals and discuss any potential repairs that may need to be made. A home inspection is typically conducted by a certified and licensed home inspector who offers expertise and knowledge to help better inform your decision.
The goal of the inspection is to find any issues that might be a concern for the future homeowner. These can range from simple items like missing knobs on windows, all the way serious issues like foundation or water damage.
Why Are Home Inspections Necessary?
It’s vital to have a home inspection before buying a new property, as it could be your last opportunity to discover any issues or defects. Without it, you might be missing some serious issues that will cause headaches and empty wallets in the future.
A home inspection allows buyers to iron out deals and potentially get the seller to pay for any problems that were found, or to back out of the deal entirely if there are any severe issues with the home. There needs to be a home inspection contingency in place within the purchase agreement first, as this contract allows buyers to resolve issues before closing on the property. This protects both the buyer and seller while allowing you to evaluate the true value of the property.
Home inspections are also usually performed by licensed professionals. They know what to look for including common issues and also issues sellers commonly try to hide. They generally have more expertise than the homebuyer, and this allows them to find issues that might otherwise be missed by the untrained eye.
Note that most states have their own requirements for becoming a home inspector. Here’s an example for the state of illinois.
What Does a Home Inspection Typically Cover?
While home inspections are typically non-invasive, they do provide a thorough examination of the home and its condition. With a home inspection, you’ll get an exterior and interior inspection, as well as a detailed report at the end. Here is what you can expect with your home inspection.
The home inspector will examine the exterior of the home to ensure that there is no structural damage including cracks, leaks, and more. During an exterior inspection, the inspector will:
- Inspect the roof and eavestroughs.
- Check the exterior of the home for any signs of weather damage.
- Look for damage to the exterior decks, railings, and fences.
- Inspect the foundation for cracks and other issues.
- Check the grading surrounding the foundation.
The home inspector will also carefully inspect the interior of the home for any signs of damage that may not be obvious to the untrained eye. While it may seem easy to spot any defects yourself, a home inspector will be able to point out anything both you and the seller miss. During an interior inspection, the inspector will:
- Flush toilets and turn on faucets to inspect water pressure and function.
- Carefully check switches, electrical outlets, and the breaker panel.
- Check floors, walls, and ceilings for any issues.
- Open and close all windows.
- Check the cooling and heating systems.
- Inspect the basement for any water leakage or damage.
- Check the attic for insulation.
- Inspect all rooms, closets, and areas under the stairs.
- Check the condition of the chimney/fireplace.
Additionally, you’ll receive an inspection report at the end of the inspection. This report will outline the positive aspects of the home, as well as any minor and major defects or repairs that were found. With this report, you can budget for any repairs and upgrades as well as plan your next steps.
Also, the inspector may have additional items to check or advise upon depending on your location. Here in Illinois, for example, a radon test is highly recommended as many houses have levels too high. This, or other extras, may or may not be applicable depending on your home’s location, age, and other factors.
How Much Does an Inspection Cost?
The average house inspection can range anywhere from $200 to $500 and typically costs in the $300’s range. It’s important to keep in mind that the final cost will depend on factors including the size and location of the home.
The buyer usually pays for the home inspection, but in some cases, the seller may get their own home inspection complete before putting their homes on the market. Not all buyers are comfortable with and accept such inspections, and some will opt for a home inspection to be done by someone not associated with the seller and realtor.
DIY Home Inspections vs Professional Inspections
If you’re thinking about doing a home inspection on your own but are concerned about additional costs, you could save yourself the time and expenses that come from hiring a professional inspector. Here are the pros and cons of doing your own home inspection:
Pros of DIY Inspections
There are a few pros that come from doing a home inspection yourself that are worth considering. A DIY inspection will allow you to:
- Reveal any potential issues of the home yourself.
- Save on the costs of hiring a professional home inspector.
- Get a better idea of the home’s condition.
Cons of DIY Inspections
While there are a few pros of doing a home inspection yourself, there are cons that are important to be aware of. Here are the cons of a DIY inspection:
- No training or depth of knowledge on what to look for during the inspection.
- Cannot form an unbiased opinion like a home inspector.
- Can be emotionally attached to the home and overlook serious issues.
- Have less understanding of the true costs of potential repairs.
- No comprehensive inspection report to review.
Benefits of Hiring a Professional Home Inspector
To protect yourself in the home-buying process, it’s best to hire a professional home inspector you trust to get the job done right. These are the benefits you can expect when hiring a professional inspector:
- Brings years of knowledge, expertise, and training to the inspection.
- Understands what to look for in a home.
- Provides accurate information about the home as well as costs for potential repairs.
- Forms an objective and unbiased opinion.
- Licensed and certified to back up their findings.
- Provides a detailed, extensive inspection report.
Hiring a professional home inspector is essential to protecting yourself and ensuring you get the most out of your future home. A home inspection is a valuable tool for both first-time and seasoned buyers and can be what saves you from costly expenses and headaches down the line. Once you receive your comprehensive report, you’ll be able to make an informed decision about your home.