Home Inspections for Buyers: Tips & Checklist

Home Inspections for Buyers: Tips & Checklist

In this post, we’ll dive into what a home inspection entails, offer tips for navigating the process, and provide questions ask your home inspector.

Buying a home is one of the most significant investments most people will make in their lifetime. One of the critical stages in the home-buying process is the home inspection, a step that can save you from future headaches and financial losses.

What is a Home Inspection

A home inspection is a detailed examination of a house’s structure and systems. It includes checking everything from the roof to the foundation. The purpose is to evaluate the overall condition of the house. A home inspector looks at the property carefully to tell buyers its condition and any repairs or maintenance needed.

What a Home Inspector Looks For

Home inspectors cover a broad range of components in a home.

What do inspectors typically inspect?

  • Heating system
  • Central air conditioning system
  • Plumbing
  • Electrical
  • Roof
  • Attic
  • Walls
  • Ceilings
  • Floors,
  • Windows
  • Doors
  • Foundation
  • Basement
  • Structural components.

What a Home Inspector Does Not Look For

Items typically not covered in a standard home inspection include:

  • Aesthetics or cosmetic feature
  • Specialty inspections for pests or vermin (termites, mice)
  • Testing for hazardous materials unless the inspector is specifically certified for these tests
  • Inside of walls
  • Personal property
  • Advanced sewer or septic system conditions
  • Hidden electrical issues (inspection is visual, and hidden issues inside walls or conduits are not covered)
  • In-depth inspection of underground systems (like buried oil tanks or lawn irrigation systems)
  • Predictions about the lifespan of systems or components
  • Environmental hazards or conditions outside the property boundaries (e.g., soil condition, air quality outside the home)

Buyers need to review the scope of the home inspection beforehand and consider hiring specialized inspectors if they have concerns about any areas not covered by a standard home inspection.

How Much Does a Home Inspection Cost?

The cost of a home inspection varies depending on the location, size, and age of the house but typically ranges from $400 to $700.

It’s an extra cost for the buyer, but it’s worth it to avoid unexpected repair expenses in the future.

Who Pays For The Home Inspection?

Typically, the buyer pays for the home inspection because it’s part of their due diligence in purchasing a home.

Do you get an inspection before making an offer?

In most cases, you’ll make an offer on a home and include an inspection contingency. This means your offer is conditional on the home passing inspection. However, in competitive markets, some buyers may conduct a pre-offer inspection to make their bid more attractive.

Do Banks Require Home Inspections

Banks do not typically require home inspections to approve a loan. They are more concerned with appraisals, which help them understand the property’s value. However, it’s in the buyer’s best interest to get a home inspection.

Should I be present at a Home Inspection?

Yes, we highly recommend being present at the home inspection. It allows you to see the condition firsthand and ask the inspector questions. It’s an invaluable learning opportunity about your potential new home.

Often instead of the buyer being present at the home inspection, their real estate agent will attend it on their behalf.

How to Interview Home Inspectors:

Interviewing a home inspector is a crucial step in ensuring that you receive a thorough and informative inspection of your potential new home. Here are some guidelines on how to interview home inspectors and key questions to ask:

  1. Read Reviews: Start by researching potential inspectors’ reviews online.
  2. Check for Licensing: Verify that the inspector is properly licensed in your state if licensing is required.
  3. Schedule a Call or Meeting: Arrange a conversation to discuss their experience, services, and your specific needs. This conversation is your opportunity to assess their communication skills and willingness to engage with your concerns.

Checklist to Ask a Home Inspector:

  1. What does your inspection cover? Make sure the inspection covers all the essential systems and components of the house, including the roof, foundation, HVAC, plumbing, and electrical systems.
  2. How long have you been practicing as a home inspector? Experience matters, as seasoned inspectors, are likely to be more thorough and knowledgeable about potential issues.
  3. Are you specifically certified or have special training in certain areas? If you have concerns about specific elements like radon, mold, or structural issues, it’s beneficial to work with an inspector who has relevant expertise.
  4. Can I attend the inspection? Being present during the inspection can be invaluable for understanding the condition of the home and asking questions in real time.
  5. How long does an inspection typically take? Knowing the duration can help you gauge the thoroughness of the inspection. A typical home inspection might take 2-4 hours, depending on the size and condition of the home.
  6. What kind of report do you provide, and how long will it take to receive it? A detailed report is crucial for making informed decisions. Ask for a sample report to ensure it’s comprehensive and understandable.
  7. Do you carry professional liability insurance? This can protect you in case the inspector misses significant issues during the inspection.
  8. How much will the inspection cost? Understanding the cost upfront helps manage your budget expectations. Remember, the cheapest option may not always be the best.
  9. Can you provide a sample of your inspection checklist or report? Reviewing a sample report can give you an idea of how thoroughly they inspect a home and how they communicate their findings.

Home Inspection vs. Appraisal

While both are essential steps in the home-buying process, they serve different purposes. A home inspection evaluates the condition of the home, looking for any problems that need fixing. An appraisal, on the other hand, determines the home’s value based on factors like location, condition, and recent sales of similar properties. Lenders require appraisals to ensure the property’s value justifies the loan amount.


A home inspection is a crucial step in the home-buying process, offering peace of mind and protecting your investment. By understanding what to expect, preparing questions for your inspector, and knowing the difference between an inspection and an appraisal, you’ll be better equipped to navigate this process. Remember, a home inspection is not just a formality; it’s a buyer’s opportunity to thoroughly understand their potential new home’s condition.

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