If you're new to real estate, you may have heard the term 'inspection' but may not know what it means. While not mandatory, a home inspection is an important step in the home buying process and should not be avoided if possible. Below you'll find more information on home inspections and what they entail. What is the home inspection?
An inspection is defined as as assessment "of the property's condition, including its heating and cooling systems, plumbing, electrical work, water, and sewage, as well as some fire and safety issues" (Investopedia). An inspection is performed by a home inspector; depending on where you live, s/he may or may not be licensed or certified, but it's highly likely s/he is governed and/or regulated in some way by the state. You can find a list for 2023 state-by-state home inspector licensing requirements here. The inspection is generally done at the request of the buyer or a condition of the property sale. The party that pays for the inspection is decided upon by the buyer and seller. What does the inspection cover?
A traditional/standard home inspection consists of a visual inspection of all readily accessible parts/areas of the home. These generally include:
- Structural and exterior components
- Electrical panel
- Plumbing (of which is accessible)
- Heating and cooling systems
- Major appliances (oven, fridge, dishwasher, etc.)
- Fireplaces and/or wood stoves
- Windows and doors
An inspector will spend the majority of his/her time looking for issues that could impact the integrity of the property. A good inspection can take up to 6 hours to complete; the more thorough the inspector, the longer the inspection.Is an inspection necessary?
An inspection is not necessary for a property sale, but it is highly advised that anyone buying a property have at least one inspection done before the sale is final. Many believe that an inspection is required for a mortgage loan - this is a myth: an inspection is not a requirement for a mortgage loan. Some mix up an inspection with an appraisal - an appraisal gives a dollar value to a home; an inspection points out the issues and flaws within the home. An inspection is an excellent tool for any buyer to get a bigger picture into their potential new property.What does it not cover?
A standard inspection can be pretty thorough, but it doesn’t cover every aspect of a property. Things that are generally not included in a typical inspection are:
- Conditions within walls
- Hazardous materials
- Items attached to the roof (solar panels, antennas, etc.)
- Sewer or septic systems
- Detailed electrical items
- Swimming pools or hot tubs
- Geological issues
An inspector will spend time visually inspecting the property, but they will not tear apart walls, dig up the ground, or do anything beyond general inspection. Are there other kinds of inspections?
Again, a standard inspection can be pretty thorough, but it's not going to cover every issue a property may have. For this reason, there are other inspections a buyer can do on top of a basic inspection. These include:
- Radon testing
- Hazardous materials (lead, asbestos, etc.) testing
- Mold testing
- Foundation inspection
- Septic/Sewer inspection
- HVAC inspection
- Crawlspace inspection
- Advanced electrical inspection
- Pest inspection
- Many more
Buying a home is a big event - you don't want to get to the finish line, sign the papers, and then realize your new home isn't at its best. If you can, get an inspection. Some sellers sell with the stipulation of "sold as is" - if this is the case for your new property, you can still have an inspection done, it just may not impact the terms of the sale. The bottom line: make it a point to have an inspection performed to know what you're getting into with your new home.
If you've had an inspection done before, what are some of the items your inspector discovered?