Answer Generally, home inspectors look for damage and potential issues in readily visible, accessible parts of a home, both inside and out. This includes structural features such as the foundation, floors, stairs, walls and ceilings, as well as mechanical systems like the plumbing and HVAC. Inspectors look for things like water or fire damage, visible signs of mold, cracked or missing roof shingles and issues that point to a faulty foundation, such as cracked exterior steps or a leaning chimney.
Inspectors write up their observations and make recommendations for repairs, but these reports do not include estimated pricing for repairs or recommendations on whether you should (or should not) buy the home. The cost of an inspection can vary but roughly ranges from $300 to $500.
Bulging or missing siding
Sagging eaves and soffits
Improperly installed flashing
Windows and doors that don’t close properly
Cracks in walkways and/or foundation
Stairs and porches that aren’t level or are missing boards
Missing shingles or other flaws in the roof surface
Gaps around skylights or skylights that don’t close properly
Damaged chimney brick or missing mortar
Missing fire and carbon monoxide alarms
Improperly installed insulation
Holes and other problems with the structure
Moisture, water damage and large cracks in the foundation, walls and floor
Rot or insect damage along foundation sills
Damaged or badly working toilets, showers, bathtubs and sinks
Clogged or slow-running drains
Problems with the water temperature or water pressure and flow
Exposed splices in visible wiring
Rusty circuit breaker panel
Inoperable switches and light fixtures
Heating and cooling systems that don’t operate properly
Cracks or gaps in the visible parts of the fireplace
Improperly vented exhaust fans in the attic and around the foundation, kitchen, bathroom and laundry room.
Appliances, such as washers and dryers
Indoor air quality
Hazards such as asbestos, lead paint, mold or radon
Pests, including termites as well as rodents
Inaccessible or hard-to-reach areas, like electrical wires inside walls or parts of the foundation or roof
Typically, buyers have 10 to 30 days after an offer is accepted to get a home inspected. No home is perfect, but an inspection can give you an out if your dream home has major issues. Or it can help you negotiate a lower price to cover the cost of repairs.
You can be present for the inspection, and you can ask questions. Ask the inspector to explain your state’s home inspection requirements – what’s covered and what’s not. The American Society of Home Inspectors and International Association of Certified Home Inspectors publish standards of practice for home inspections.
Some real estate professionals recommend getting separate inspections for the foundation, chimney or sewer line by certified professionals. If you’re buying an older home that may contain knob-and-tube wiring, consider a separate electrical home inspection with a licensed electrician.
Most states have certifications for home inspectors, but some do not. Consider asking for proof of up-to-date certifications and insurance for both errors and omissions and for general liability insurance.
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