Buying or selling a home is a major transaction. That’s why most buyers opt to get a home inspection prior to closing on a house. An inspection helps buyers find underlying issues that might not be obvious. After all, it’s hard to know a house's actual condition until a professional inspects it thoroughly. Here are the different types of home inspections and what they cover.
When do you need a home inspection?
You need a home inspection whenever there is a potential property transfer. Generally, this means whenever you are buying or selling a house. It’s also a good idea to do regular inspections to prevent the build-up of problems before they become large, costly issues.
A home inspection is considered standard procedure in the real estate world. It gives both parties a better understanding of the property’s overall condition and gives the sellers an opportunity to fix issues prior to a sale.
For buyers, inspections can be huge in deciding whether or not they should purchase a home. They offer a transparent view of the property, revealing any concerns the seller may not have known about or disclosed.
Sellers may also want to get inspections done. Seller-side inspections can help sellers identify issues they’d like to address before listing the property.
Types of home inspections
There are a few different types of home inspections. Here are some examples.
Pre-purchase home inspection
What is a pre-purchase home inspection?
A pre-purchase home inspection is the most common type of home inspection. This gives potential home buyers a comprehensive look at the state of the property before buying a home. It also enables them to ask the seller to make repairs if the inspector finds something wrong.
What to expect during a pre-purchase inspection
Here’s a general idea of what happens during an inspection
- Visual assessment of accessible interior and exterior areas
- An inspection report with detailed observations and photographic documentation
- The identification of any defects
- A better understanding of upcoming maintenance needs
Pre-purchase home inspection cost
Home inspection costs are impacted by various factors. Costs fluctuate significantly across different regions:
- Chicago, Illinois: $321
- Houston, Texas: $347
- Hartford, Connecticut: $489
- Detroit, Michigan: $294
- Trenton, New Jersey: $430 [source]
The size of your home will also impact your inspection fee. National average by square footage:
- 1,000 – 1,500 sq ft: $280
- 1,501 – 2,000 sq ft: $290
- 2,001 – 2,500 sq ft: $307
- 2,501 – 3,000 sq ft: $323 [source]
Pre-listing home inspection
What are pre-listing home inspections?
A pre-listing home inspection is exactly what it sounds like - an inspection done before a seller puts their property on the market. It gives the sellers a chance to address issues ahead of time. Additionally, if sellers show evidence they completed repairs, serious buyers can opt to waive their inspection. This can speed up the closing process, which can be as long as 30-60 days.
If you’re worried about waiving inspections, keep in mind almost every state has disclosure laws, which require sellers to disclose issues with the property prior to selling.
Benefits for sellers
- Lessens fear of potential maintenance issues
- More accurate cost of home pricing
- Ability to make repairs themselves or file insurance claims
- Provides negotiation leverage
- Eases real estate agent transactions
- Can speed up the closing process
When to get a pre-listing inspection?
A pre-listing inspection is particularly beneficial if you are listing an older property or want to minimize requests for repairs.
Pre-listing inspection costs
A pre-listing home inspection cost should be similar to standard home inspection costs.
New construction inspection
What are new construction inspections?
A new construction inspection helps buyers know whether or not there were any oversights during construction so that the builders can remedy the issues.
The good news is that if your inspection does find issues, builders will typically make repairs at their own expense as long as you make requests within a specific timeline.
When to opt for a new construction inspection
Choosing to have a new construction home inspected is a smart decision for several reasons:
- Fixing unseen issues
- Compliance and safety
- Warranty considerations
Expectations for a new construction inspection
During a new construction inspection, a qualified inspector will thoroughly review your home for the items below.
- Structural issues like cracks in the drywall, nails popping, or truss rise
- Installation of flooring and doors
- Siding issues
- Proper setup of appliances and systems
- Concrete work on driveways and sidewalks
- Grading and drainage of the property
- Indoor humidity level and water-related concerns
New construction inspection cost
The cost of a new construction inspection varies, but it’s usually similar to the cost of a typical inspection. While the expense might seem unnecessary for a new building, the long-term peace of mind can be worth it.
Routine maintenance inspection
What are routine maintenance inspections?
Routine maintenance inspections are like a regular health check-up on a property. They help prevent damage before it spreads by helping homeowners find issues early on.
These inspections include a review of all the systems within the home, including but not limited to HVAC Systems, electrical/wiring, foundation, plumbing, and chimney inspection.
Goals of routine maintenance inspections
- Maintain house integrity
- Extend the lifespan of the home
- Ensure the safety and well-being of occupants
- Uphold value by preventing degradation
When to schedule routine maintenance inspections
- Before the expiration of a warranty period
- After severe weather events
- When planning for renovations or upgrades
- As a part of an annual home maintenance plan
Prevention through routine maintenance inspections
Even a small leak in your plumbing can lead to extensive water damage, and a minor crack in your foundation can lead to major repairs if it gets worse. That’s why it’s a good idea to catch issues early.
Routine maintenance cost
Typically, routine maintenance inspections cost the same or less than other inspections.
What are specialized inspections?
Specialized inspections delve into specific aspects of a home that are not typically covered in a general home inspection report. These can include the following additional inspections:
- Mold inspections
- Radon tests
- Pest inspections
- Lead-based paint inspections
- Asbestos inspections
When to get specialized inspections
You should consider getting a specialized inspection in the following circumstances.
- You have an old home: Older homes are more likely to have lead paint and asbestos issues, especially if you have a home built before 1978.
- You’re in a higher-risk area: Certain areas may be prone to radon or have a history of termite infestation or other wood-boring pests.
- There are visible signs of damage: If you can see mold growth or structural damage from pests, get an inspection.
- You have health or safety concerns: If you’re worried about indoor air quality or other health hazards, get an inspection.
Impact on home value
Specialized inspections can significantly influence the value of a home for the following reasons.
- Identifying potential deal-breakers
- Offering an opportunity to address specific issues before listing
- Giving buyers peace of mind
Specialized home inspection costs
The cost of specialized inspections depends entirely on the service. Some average costs for different types of specialized inspections are:
- Asbestos testing: $230 – $790
- Foundation inspection: $340 – $720
- Mold testing: $300 – $990
- Radon testing: $155 – $700
- Termite inspection: $50 – $280
- Sewer scope: $250 – $1,340
These costs might seem daunting initially, but problems like termite damage could cost you thousands over time. Mold remediation, when caught early, can help prevent the mold from becoming a serious health concern, while radon testing can help reduce your risk of lung cancer.
The inspection process
Step-by-step overview of a home inspection
A typical home inspection will only take a few hours. During it, the inspector will do a detailed visual walkthrough of the home, documenting their findings. Here's what you can expect:
First, you’ll have a chance to talk with the inspector and ask any questions you have.
The inspector will examine each of the home’s major components and systems. They won’t move furniture around or cause damage to walls or structures to access hidden areas.
Areas of focus
There are several areas they will focus on, which include the following.
- Structural components
- Exterior components
- Roof inspection
- HVAC inspection
- Major appliances
- Fireplaces/wood stoves
- Windows and doors
After they’re finished, the inspector will compile a detailed report with photos of their findings, highlighting potential concerns. This report will provide a guidepost for repair requests and a starting point for sale negotiations.
Preparing for the inspection
Here is how you can prepare for an inspection as a homeowner.
- Full disclosure. Let the inspector know about any known issues or outstanding repairs.
- Increase accessibility. Make sure all areas of the home are easily accessible.
- Provide your availability. Be prepared to leave the house for a couple of hours to let them work, bringing any pets with you.
- Check utilities. Check that all your utilities are working so that the inspector can test systems like your plumbing, electrical, and HVAC.
- Do maintenance. Clean your house and perform routine maintenance tasks like changing HVAC filters and fixing minor defects.
- Provide documentation. Be ready to provide any and all available records of repairs, maintenance, and warranties.
Home inspections are an important step in the home-buying process. Additionally, routine inspections can help homeowners spot problem areas before they become major issues. The true value of a home inspection is usually greater than the price paid because inspections provide peace of mind about your large investment.