What to Expect When They're Inspecting: Your Home-Inspection Checklist

by Team HomeServe

If you’ve ever bought a house, you know that the home inspection can be nerve-wracking. But it doesn’t have to be. Think of it as a physical for your house. Having your home inspected or having a house you are likely to purchase inspected is the best way to get detailed information about the current condition of the house. And it is the best way to prevent expensive surprises. Home inspections are not required by law, but highly recommended in many cases.

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Preparing for a home inspection? Here’s everything you need to know.

Who Should Get a Home Inspection?

Generally, homebuyers. Sellers are required in most areas to produce a disclosure list of damage and repair issues for buyers. But the problem with the seller’s disclosure is that they often lack things the seller forgets.

Homebuyers and agents need to know about any and all potential damage and repair issues prior to closing. Once the closing happens the contract is done and the buyer assumes financial responsibility for repairs. So the inspection brings to light things that need to be asked or discussed with the seller, and possibly negotiated before closing.

Other Reasons For Getting a Home Inspection

Sellers have home inspections done prior to listing their home so they are aware of damage and repair issues ahead of time. Giving them the opportunity to make repairs and possibly listing for a higher price.

Homeowners have inspections done as well. Most home builders offer a 12-month manufacturer warranty on their new homes as part of the purchase. An owner who builds a new home will commonly have an inspection done by a professional home inspector in the 11th month of their warranty period, so they can have the builder make repairs under the warranty.

What’s Covered in a Home Inspection?

At a minimum, a proper home inspection will cover the systems of the home including:

  • Structure
  • Plumbing Systems
  • Electrical Systems
  • HVAC Systems
  • Appliances that convey with the home
  • Optional Systems

For example, the structure of the house includes the roof, foundation, windows, doors, etc. Plumbing systems can include sinks, tubs, toilets and drains.

You can see there is a great amount of detail that goes into an inspection report. This is the kind of information customers need to make an informed decision and have peace of mind. Remember you are not in this alone. If you are buying or selling, your real estate professional will help you prioritize the items in the inspection report according to what is important to you.

How Much Does a Home Inspection Cost?

Home inspections are usually not a flat rate and vary by area along with expertise, inspection options and the size of the home being inspected. The most basic home inspection by an experienced professional (some states require licensing) will run a minimum of $300 for modest-sized homes.

Expect to pay more for quality, because — as with almost everything — you get what you pay for. You may find an inspector who offers bargain rates. But do you want to skimp on an inspection when you are making one of the biggest investments of your life?

How Long Does a Home Inspection Take?

Home inspections take several hours. The bigger the home, the more water heaters, toilets, doors, windows and other elements there are to inspect. Home inspectors are expected to go through attics, crawl spaces, closets, rooftops (in some cases) and all rooms of the house.

Inspectors want a close look into every system the house so the report they create is as complete as possible. For example, a 3-bedroom, 2-bath, 1-garage house of 1,800 square feet, may take from 2 to 3 hours to inspect, depending on how old the house is.

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What Do Home Inspectors Look For?

Home inspections focus on safety hazards, improper installations, leaks, water damage, deterioration, wood-destroying organisms and system components not functioning like they should. The causes for these issues may be age, water damage, bugs, lack of maintenance, or safety codes that have changed since the home was built.

Safety is always a primary concern when buying a home. For example, GFCI electrical outlets are now required when providing electricity near sinks, bathtubs, showers and other areas where water is likely to come in contact with the outlet. GFCI outlets help prevent electric shock when they get wet.

Likewise, you will see and hear a professional home inspector testing things like the appliances, sinks, toilets, light switches and more. Anything that is not working properly gets noted on the report.

Who Pays For a Home Inspection?

The client who wants the report pays for the inspection, whether it is the buyer, seller, investor or homeowner. The report is the legal possession of the client. Anyone who wants to see a report needs to get permission from the client first.

To make sure that your report won’t be shared, ask your inspector who will see the report. Reputable home inspectors have an agreement signed by the client that includes the promise not to share the report with anyone other than the client without their express permission. One of the reasons some inspectors have bargain-basement prices is because they offer your report to anyone that wants it.

What’s The Best Way to Prepare For An Inspection?

To get prepared for your home inspection, you should move the clutter out of the way and make a path in your home. This will make it possible for them to look at what they need to.

A home inspection checklist for most houses includes space and access to:

  • Roofs
  • Attic Hatches
  • Crawl Space Hatches
  • Breaker Boxes
  • Water Heaters
  • HVAC Units

Many major system components are installed in attics and garages these days and are often surrounded by personal storage items. Home inspectors need about 3 feet of space in front of a breaker box to properly inspect it.

What Happens After The Inspection?

Once the inspector generates the report, they will go over it with you. The inspector will walk you through the house and show you areas that need to be looked at. At this point, you’ll be able to talk to your real estate agent about the concerns you need to address with the seller.

While the seller may not make any of the changes from your inspection report, you’ll be aware of what needs to be fixed once you move in.

Since we’re all home now more than ever, being prepared for unexpected home repairs with a plan from HomeServe is important. Having a plan in place gives you peace of mind knowing that you can simply call our 24/7 repair hotline for covered breakdowns. See what plans are available in your neighborhood.