What Is Done During a Home Inspection?

Written by Bill MacDonaldSeptember 14th, 20223 minute read

A home inspection is a detailed evaluation that checks every part of the house, from the foundation to the roof structure. The home inspector should inspect the condition of the heating system, air conditioning system (temperature permitting), plumbing, electrical systems, roof, attic, visible insulation, walls, ceilings, floors, windows, doors, foundation, basement, and visible structure.

Most home inspectors will also provide additional services not included in a typical home inspection, including pest, mold, radon, and water testing. Basic home inspection costs vary based on the home's size, the bigger the home, the more it costs to inspect.

What inspections should I get when buying a home?

In addition to the typical structural and mechanical inspections, the home buyer should also request a pest inspection. Wood-boring insects can cause serious problems. If the house employs a well and/or septic system, the sanitary system should be inspected. Replacing a septic system or drilling a new well can be very costly. Asbestos is extremely dangerous. An asbestos assessment should be included in the home inspection. Other tests to consider are radon and mold. Lead is hazardous and the home inspector should be aware of your concern regarding lead contamination. If the house is serviced by natural gas, a pressure test should be included in the inspection.

Frequently Asked Questions About Home Inspections

Q. Are home inspectors responsible for missed items?
A. Prior to the home inspection, the home inspector will ask you to sign a contract. Chances are, there is a clause that limits the home inspector's liability. In fairness to the home inspector, he or she is not perfect and problems can be missed.

Q. Are home inspections required?
A. Home inspections are not typically required, although some housing agencies will require a home inspection for special financing.

Q. Do lenders require a home inspection?
A. No. Lenders rely on the appraiser's opinion of the structural integrity of the home. Appraisers are not home inspectors, however, appraisers will note any condition of the home that may require further examination.

Q. How does a home inspection help buyers?
A. Purchasing a home can be an emotional decision, which can lead home buyers away from obvious problems. The home inspector will evaluate the home without regard to any emotional attachment.

Q. How long do home inspections take?
A. The time period can range from two hours up to 5 hours.

Q. How much is a home inspection when buying a house?
A. Expect $400, but the cost will increase with ancillary inspections.

Q. Is a home inspection necessary?
A. I believe it is. Let me ask you a question, "do you have enough money to cover any repair after settlement"? If not, get a home inspection.

Q. Is a home inspection required by the FHA or VA?
A. No, however, the Federal Housing Administration and Veterans Administration strongly recommend a home inspection. In fact, the FHA requires homebuyers to sign the "For Your Protection: Get a Home Inspection" form at mortgage application.

Q. What are home inspections looking for?
A. In a word, problems.

Q. What fixes are mandatory after a home inspection?
A. There are no mandatory fixes after a home inspection unless stated in the sales contract, but the customary repairs include life safety issues.

Q. What is a home inspection report?
A. The home inspection report is a written statement of the home inspector's evaluation of the house

Q. When is a home inspection done?
A. The home inspection should occur as soon as the lender gives preliminary loan approval (see automated underwriting) and before the appraisal is requested. From time to time, a home inspection will reveal insurmountable problems which the seller will not or is unable to correct.

Q. Who pays for the home inspection?
A. The home inspection is typically paid for by the buyer, while the seller is allowed to pay for the inspection.