What Do Home Inspectors Look For?

What Do Home Inspectors Look For?

What Do Home Inspectors Look For?

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.

Among the problems that inspectors look for in a typical home inspection:  


  • 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

  • Clogged gutters 

Safety elements

  • Missing fire and carbon monoxide alarms

  • Rickety railings


  • Improperly installed insulation

  • Water stains

  • 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 

  • Rusty pipes 

  • 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

  • Damaged ductwork

  • 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. 

Home inspections typically do not include:

  • Appliances, such as washers and dryers

  • Indoor air quality

  • Hazards such as asbestos, lead paint, mold or radon

  • Outbuildings

  • Pools

  • 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

What to know before a home inspection 

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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