Frequently Asked Home Inspection Questions


Q: What is a home inspection?

A: A home inspection is an objective visual examination of the physical structure and systems of a home, from roof to foundation. A home inspection is the equivalent of a physical examination from your doctor. When problems or symptoms of problems are found, the inspector may recommend further evaluation or remedies.

Q: What does a home inspection include?

A: A standard home inspection summarizes findings from a visual inspection of the condition of the subject home’s heating system, central air conditioning system (temperature permitting), interior plumbing and electrical systems; roof, attic, and visible insulation; walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors; foundation, basement, and the visible structures of the home.

Q: Are there any limitations?

A: Yes. Inspectors do the best job they can, but sometimes physical obstructions, weather conditions etc., prevent them from doing the whole job., e.g., a snow covered roof or concealed areas. The inspector cannot make representations about what was un-inspected.

Q: Why do I need an inspection?

A: Buying a home is probably the largest single investment you will ever make. A home inspection will let you know the condition of the property before you buy, so you may avoid unpleasant costly repairs afterwards. After an inspection, you should have a clearer understanding about the property and feel confident about the purchase of a home. It will reveal major problems with the house and also point out the positive aspects of the home.

Q: Why do I need a home inspection?

A: A home inspection summarizes the condition of a property, points out the need for major repairs and identifies areas that may need attention in the near future. Buyers and sellers depend on an accurate home inspection to maximize their knowledge of the property in order to make intelligent decisions before executing an agreement for sale or purchase. A home inspection points out the positive aspects of a home, as well as the maintenance that will be necessary to keep it in good shape. After an inspection both parties have a much clearer understanding of the value and needs of the property. For homeowners, an inspection may be used to identify problems in the making and to learn about preventive measures, which might avoid costly future repairs. If you are planning to sell your home, an inspection prior to placing your home on the market provides a better understanding of conditions which may be discovered by the buyer’s inspector, and provides you an opportunity to make repairs that will make your home more desirable to potential buyers.

Q: What will it cost?

A: Inspection fees for a typical single family home vary by geography, size and features of the property, and age of the home. Additionally, services such as septic inspections and radon testing may be warranted depending upon the individual property. Do not let the cost deter you from having a home inspection or selecting an inspector you are comfortable with – knowledge gained from an inspection is well worth the time and expense. The lowest-priced inspector is not necessarily a bargain. The inspector’s qualifications, including experience, training, and professional affiliations, should be the most important consideration in your selection.

Q: Can I do it myself?

A: Even the most experienced homeowner lacks the knowledge and expertise of a professional home inspector. A professional home inspector has the experience, depth of knowledge and training to make an unbiased and informed report of the condition of a property. An inspector is familiar with the many elements of home construction, their proper installation and maintenance. An inspector understands how the home’s systems and components are intended to function together, as well as how and why they fail and knows what to look for and is uniquely suited to interpret what their findings reveal about the condition of the property. Most buyers find it difficult to remain objective and unemotional about the house they really want, and this may affect their judgment. For the most accurate information about the condition of a home, always obtain an impartial third-party opinion by an expert in the field of home inspection.

Q: Can a house fail a home inspection?

A: No. A professional home inspection is an examination of the current condition of your home. It is not an appraisal, which determines market value, or a municipal inspection, which verifies compliance to local codes and standards. A home inspector will not pass or fail a house. A home inspection describes the physical condition of a property and indicates what may need repair or replacement.

Q: What happens if a house has problems?

A: Our report will tell you the condition of the house, and point out any areas where repairs may be needed. As the home ages, systems will have a tendency to perform at less than optimal levels. Always remember, no house is going to be perfect. It is up to you to decide how any problems the inspection uncovers might affect your decision to purchase. If major problems are discovered, you may want to try negotiating with the seller to have them repaired before closing the deal. Or perhaps the seller will lower the price, or offer more favorable contract terms. In the end, the decision rests with you, but knowing about potential problems, before you buy, gives you the power to negotiate and make the best decisions.

Q: What if the report reveals problems?

A: Just because the house may have some problems doesn’t mean it isn’t a good investment. The report will help you understand what will be involved in future maintenance, whether you may be able to negotiate with the seller on the price of the home or get repairs done before closing. Remember, the choice is always yours.

Q: Which houses should be inspected?

A: Any house should be inspected regardless of age. New construction as well as existing houses have defects. The inspector uses his experience of inspecting older houses to anticipate future problems in new construction.

Q: Is an inspection an insurance policy or warranty against future repair?

A: The home inspector will never be able to predict every repair or maintenance item encountered while owning a house. Purchasing a home brings risk. An inspection cannot eliminate this risk. An inspection does not constitute an insurance policy. It gives you an impression of the condition of the house and discloses immediate major repairs.

Q: Do I need to be present at the home inspection?

A: It isn’t necessary for you to be present at the inspection, however, being at the inspection will help you learn about your new home. The inspector can give you tips on maintenance and upkeep. It’s a good time for you to ask questions.

Q: When do I call in the home inspector?

A: After you have made an offer to purchase the property or before closing is a good time to call in an inspector. Have your realtor or lawyer include an “inspection clause” in the contract, making your purchase contingent upon the findings of a professional home inspection.