On this page:
- What Should I Expect From a Home Inspection?
- Why Should I Have a Home Inspection?
- What Affects the Costs of Inspection Services?
- How Will the Features of My Home Affect the Price of an Inspection?
- Preparing for a Home Inspection
- Cost Comparisons
- Level of Difficulty
Hiring a pro to perform a general home inspection is a great way to get an objective assessment of your home’s condition, or of one you may buy or rent. Professional home inspectors evaluate the condition of the home’s visible structure and systems so you can be aware of needed repairs and understand the maintenance requirements of the property.
What Should I Expect From a Home Inspection?
How Do Home Inspectors Price Their Services?
Many inspectors charge a base fee for every inspection, but there may be other charges added to your bill according to the characteristics and location of your home and the services included in the inspection. For example, a home inspector in your area may charge a minimum fee of $300 which allows for a standard inspection of a 2,000 square foot single story home. If your home is larger, multi-level, or of a complex design, the pro may charge more to allow for the extra time it will take to get the job done. So, while most pros have standardized pricing, the unique nature of your home and the inspection requirements could lead to higher fee.
What is Included in My Inspection?
A general or standard home inspection typically includes a visual inspection of the home’s exterior, roof, door, windows, and foundation, as well as the interior finishes, appliances, attic, basement or crawlspace, HVAC systems, plumbing, and wiring. If present, outbuildings, garages, driveways and walks, decks, patios, and pools are also evaluated, along with an overview of landscape grading. Services may vary from one pro to the next, so be sure to find out exactly what your inspector will take a look at and how extensive the examination will be. After the inspection is complete, you will receive a written report that summarizes your inspector’s findings, including recommendations for repair and areas of concern.
What Do I Need to Know About a General Home Inspections?
General home inspections are just that: general. This type of inspection will give you an overall picture of a home’s condition, but is not a pass/fail measure and may not provide an in-depth analysis of specific features, systems, or problems. A general inspection is a tool to help you identify potential issues, and your inspector may recommend additional, specialized inspections based on their findings. These recommendations can help you plan and budget for repairs or make an educated decision about whether or not to buy or rent a property, so be sure you understand the scope of your home inspector’s services and schedule additional inspections, if needed, to address areas of concern.
Why Should I Have a Home Inspection?
A home inspection can be a valuable tool for property owners to help plan for home repairs and maintenance or to check the quality of construction on a new build. Whether you handle repair tasks on your own or hire pros to take care of improvements and other projects, an independent inspector can take an unbiased look at your house and let you know what may need some attention.
A professional home inspector will make a thorough assessment of your home, keeping you off a ladder and out of the crawlspace, and will likely check areas you might miss when making your own rounds. Hiring a pro can also save time; having an inspection periodically can give you the chance to plan and budget for projects around the house in order of priority, rather than dealing with them as problems arise.
If you are preparing to sell your home, an inspection can reveal issues that may become trouble spots during a sale, or even point out some areas you can address to improve the appeal of the home when it hits the market. Having your own inspection gives you the chance to make repairs and improvements before listing the property, disclose issues you prefer not to repair yourself, or at least adjust your pricing and plan ahead for negotiations.
An independent home inspection is an excellent opportunity for homebuyers to get an objective assessment of a home before purchasing. The results of an inspection can show buyers whether there are any upgrades, repairs, or maintenance recommended so they decide whether to proceed with a sale, how to negotiate the sale price, and how to budget for the needed work after purchasing a home.
It is common practice for property owners to maintain the structure and systems of rental properties, but depending on the type of home and details of a lease agreement, renters are often responsible for some maintenance and repairs. Having an inspection done prior to renting a home can bring problems to the attention of the landlord so they can be repaired, or reveal potential issues that could cause inconvenience or require repair at the renter’s expense. An inspection report can also provide an objective baseline and documentation of the home’s condition before renters take residence, which can help prevent and resolve disputes at the time the tenant moves out and the landlord assess the property.
What Affects the Costs of Inspection Services?
The size of a home is one of the most significant factors in the cost of a general inspection. Simply put, the larger a home is, the more time it takes to examine it, so the inspection of a large home is generally more expensive than for a smaller one. Some inspectors may base their fees on the number of rooms, levels, square footage, or all three, so they layout of the home may have as much bearing as its footprint.
Home Style and Age
Older and more complex buildings often carry a higher potential for damage and problems, so it often takes more time to perform a thorough inspection. Thus, it typically costs more to have an older or more intricate home inspected than a new, less complicated one. If the property is a historic building, very old, or of a unique design or type (such as a log cabin), it can be beneficial to hire a pro that is experienced with the type of building involved, though this expertise may come at a premium.
Scope of the Inspection
Many certified home inspectors are also qualified to perform specialized inspections, such as for HVAC, electrical or plumbing systems, the presence of lead, asbestos, or mold. If you hire a pro to go beyond the minimum requirements of a general inspection, the added tasks will increase the cost of the job. Often, home inspectors recommend additional inspections to be carried out by other specialists, and though that should not affect the cost of your general inspection, each additional inspector will charge according to their own fee schedule and the nature of the job.
How Will the Features of My Home Affect the Price of an Inspection?
If your home is in relatively good condition and is easily accessible for an inspector to reach the roof, windows and doors, basement or crawlspace, attic, and mechanical systems, the job should go smoothly and take just a few hours. If the property is unsafe, difficult to access or navigate, or is in disrepair and has several problem areas to address, the inspection could take longer and carry a higher price tag.
Special Features and Services
The services included in your inspection directly reflect on the cost of the job, so if there are special considerations your inspector must make, you will be charged accordingly. Multiple outbuildings, a swimming pool, and a three living levels in the house may be considered complicating factors by your inspector since they add to the time needed to assess the property, and though they are included in the scope of a standard inspection, could raise the cost of the service. If you require additional services, such as a septic system inspection, land survey, or water and soil tests, it will be necessary to hire a pro who is qualified to perform all the work involved or to hire multiple specialists, which will add to the bottom line.
The location of your home could factor into the cost of an inspection, or contribute to the need for specialized inspections. If you live in an area prone to heavy snow and ice, high winds, flooding, or unstable soil, it may be customary or recommended to take a closer look at a home’s structure or foundation to be sure it can withstand typical environmental conditions.
Preparing for a Home Inspection
The first step in getting a thorough and accurate assessment of your home or another property is to hire a qualified pro. Most U.S. states require home inspectors to carry a license, but even in those that don’t certification or an affiliation with an organization such as The National Association of Home Inspectors (NAHI) or The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) can help assure you are hiring a properly trained and verified pro.
In any case, hiring an inspector with a background in construction can give you an even greater advantage, since their career experience can be valuable in spotting potential problems and conveying to you the implications of the issues. Be careful to hire an objective inspector, though. Many inspectors are former or current contractors who provide inspection services, but if a pro uses an inspection as an opportunity to generate repair business, the conflict of interests could keep you from getting a fair assessment of the home.
Know What You are Getting
Be sure to address with your inspector up front what he or she will examine and how thoroughly. If you have specific concerns, address them up front to make sure they are covered in the course of the inspection or to find out how to line up a specialist if necessary. Most inspectors can provide a sample inspection report so you know what to expect, but check to see how long it will take for the report to be available, and keep in mind that the report provides an assessment of the home, but is not intended to provide repair estimates or an appraisal of the property’s value. The inspection report can be used to gather estimates and verify the findings of an appraisal, but should not be used as a substitute for either.
If possible, attend the home inspection yourself so you can see firsthand what your inspector sees and ask questions as they arise. Being involved in the inspection can help you become familiar with the structure and condition of the home and find out about areas of that may have special maintenance requirements or need attention in the near future. Most home inspections take a few hours, so be sure to set aside enough time to be present for the entire process.
|$250 - $375||$325 - $800||$500 - $1,200|
One of the most common scenarios for ordering a home inspection is when considering the purchase of a home. Our example of a buyer’s inspection of a detached single family home shows how a few details can change the nature and cost of the job.
Just the Basics: $250 - $375
- • Size and Style: In this example, a standard assessment of a small, 1,200 square foot, single story home with a simple layout can be completed in just a couple of hours since there isn’t much ground to cover.
- • Age: A home less than 50 years old built with common practices typically has modern plumbing, wiring, and finishes so there are usually few surprises or age-related quirks to investigate.
- • Scope of Inspection: Keeping the inspection to the basics of structure and finishes provides a good overview of the state of the home and eliminates extra charges.
A Little Closer Look: $325 - $800
- • Size and Style: It takes a bit longer to look over a 2,500 square foot, two-story home with a custom design in this example, so an inspector’s base fee accounts for the extra time involved.
- • Age: In this scenario, a home approximately 100 years old may require a little more attention to check the type and condition of wiring, the integrity of the roof structure, and the stability of the foundation.
- • Scope of Inspection: It can be valuable to have a few extras checked out on an older home, such as an energy audit, assessment of HVAC systems and chimneys, and lead paint testing. Extras like these can add $200 or more to the total cost of inspections.
Digging Deeper: $500 - $1,200
- • Size and Style: In this example, inspecting a 2,000 square foot home that has been vacant for an extended time calls for a bit more time and care than is needed for an occupied home. More attention may be given to look for pest infestations, damage and deterioration from neglect, and for proper function of HVAC, wiring, and plumbing systems.
- • Age: For a home over 100 years old, age is another cause to allow extra time for specialized and more detailed inspections of the structure and systems.
- • Scope of Inspection: In an inspection of this nature, additional tests for functionality and toxicity should be performed, which can add several hundred dollars to the bottom line. Testing for lead paint, asbestos, and mold, along with the condition and function of a well or septic system are critical when the maintenance history of the house is unknown or inconsistent.
Level of Difficulty
It takes extensive knowledge of building materials, systems, and practices, along with a few tools, to make a thorough inspection of a home. The job requires intermediate to advanced skills, and since inspections involve accessing roofs and crawlspaces, it carries some level of risk. Most homeowners can carry out a basic inspection for obvious issues, but it can be tough to keep track of all the details to address and without the proper training and experience, it can be easy to miss potential trouble spots.