What Every Homebuyer Should Know Before Hiring a Home Inspector

·3 min read

From House Beautiful

While you might be highly eager to lock down your dream home, signing documents prematurely can quickly become the cause of unnecessary headaches—and costs. Before signing anything, knowing all of your options is a must. The home-buying stakes are too high to gamble with, especially when it comes to having an inspection. To make the process a cinch, here's all you need to know when considering hiring an inspector:

What Are the Rules?

Though inspections are optional, it is always a good idea to pay the money to have one done before buying a new home in order to prevent you from being blinded by extra costs and repairs after you've settled.

According to Freshome, one exception to this rule could be in the case that your home maintenance is covered by an association (i.e. condo life). Either way you should always check with your bank to see if they require one. If you're going to have an inspection done, pick a date and time that fits with your schedule and attend it—ask your inspector all the questions.

Photo credit: Rob Wilson
Photo credit: Rob Wilson

How Much Does It Cost?

According to HomeAdvisor, the average home inspection in the United States costs about $338. While some can be as low as $200 or as high as $500, they typically range anywhere from approximately $279 to $399.

What Is Covered?

Typically, inspectors will check the foundation and basement, interior plumbing and electrical systems, heating and cooling systems, windows, doors, floors, walls, ceilings, attic, and visible roofing/insulation, Freshome shares.

If you're looking for someone to check inside of the walls, roof, chimney, septic tank, wells, sheds, or structures outside the main house, though, the site notes you may have to call other professionals. It's important that you ask your inspector what they cover before they do the inspection.

Where Do I Find an Inspector?

Ed Frank, CEO of InspectAmerica Engineering, P.C. and a Professional Engineer (P.E.), says you should always choose an inspector who is a Licensed P.E. as they have top credentials and can stamp your home inspection report with their Licensed P.E. seal—which is "the key to your protection," he writes for HSH.com.

Specifically, Frank recommends finding an inspection company with professional affiliations (i.e. National Academy of Building Inspection Engineers [NABIE] and National Society of Professional Engineers [NSPE]) as they only accept Licensed P.E.s. Knowing this, you can use resources like the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) search tool to Find a Home Inspector near you.

What Happens After an Inspection?

Here's exactly what your inspector should tell you after the inspection is completed, according to Frank:

  • What repairs need to be made

  • How urgently they should be made

  • What the costs might be

  • Any risks of current damage or things that may be hidden

  • Alternatives to repairing or replacing items

He also says you should expect:

  • A detailed written report that is more than a checklist

  • A Licensed P.E. seal on the report

Photo credit: Rob Wilson
Photo credit: Rob Wilson

Following the inspection, Freshome notes that you will be able to negotiate who handles the repairs. "There are three typical outcomes to these negotiations," the site continues, "The seller can perform the repairs before settlement, the seller can credit you money for the repairs, or they can become your responsibility."

Should the necessary repairs be too much to handle, buyers are typically able to walk away from the home "within the inspection timeframe" unless they signed a binding document—avoid doing this until you feel confident. Finally, hold onto the invoices from all of the repairs, so you can successfully settle and obtain the deed to your property.

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