The good news for the prospective homebuyer who has reached the home inspection stage of the buying process? You’re getting close to securing your dream home. The bad news? The inspection might reveal that the faucet leaks or that a new furnace is in order.  Still, a thorough home inspection — one that gives you a “warts and all” look at your potential new home — is a must in almost every real estate transaction. After all, it’s only fair that you, as the buyer, know exactly what you’re getting into with your purchase.

Who Is Responsible for the Home Inspection?
The homebuyer — not the seller — is responsible for arranging a home inspection.

What Should I Look For in a Home Inspector?
Ask friends who have recently purchased in your area who they used and if they were satisfied. Once you’ve found a potential inspector, ask to see a sample inspection report and read it to find out if it’s helpful and thorough. In California, which has no license requirements for conducting home inspections, you may want to choose an inspector certified by the California Real Estate Inspection Association or the American Society of Home Inspectors. Members abide by a code of ethics and must undergo training to maintain membership.

How Much Will a Home Inspector Cost?
It’s important to budget for a home inspector and the cost is usually based on the size and complexity of the property you’re buying. If you’re buying a small condo, the inspection may only cost a couple of hundred dollars. If you’re purchasing an older, larger home with a detached garage and basement, the cost generally starts around $500 and goes up depending on scope and difficulty of the job.

What Does a Home Inspection Cover?
A good home inspector looks at just about everything that’s a structural part of the house. On the outside, we’re talking any major components of a home such as the roof, the walls, the foundation, and a chimney or deck if there is one. On the inside, the inspector will be doing a top-to-bottom look at the house, examining ceilings, walls, windows, door frames, floors and the like, as well as inspecting the plumbing, electrical, and heating and cooling systems in the home. Inspectors conduct a visual inspection, meaning if they can’t see it, they can’t find the problem. However inspectors are trained to look for signs of damage, like bowing floors for foundation issues or water stains on the ceiling for plumbing problems. An inspector will also look for visible mold.

What Doesn’t a Home Inspection Cover?
Anything that’s behind a wall, under the floor, or hidden from view is usually not included in a home inspection. Make sure you clarify whether additional buildings on the property like garages or features like a pool are included in your inspection. You’ll also usually be paying extra (or bringing in a separate inspector) if you need a termite inspection, want a radon or lead paint inspection, a full mold inspection, or want evaluation for flood, fire or earthquake issues.

Should I Be Present at a Home Inspection?
Yes! You’ll gain invaluable information — direct from the mouth of the inspector —if you tag along during the inspection. If you attend the inspection, you’ll see problem spots as the inspector points them out and be able to more thoroughly understand the inspection report once it’s ready. Don’t be afraid to ask questions during the inspection.

What Happens After the Inspection?
The inspector will prepare a report, which you’ll then dissect and use in the negotiating process with the seller. If nothing major is revealed, then you’ll proceed with the sale without incident. If problems are uncovered, you’ll need to evaluate them (are they worth making a big deal about?), get quotes for fixing them, and then come back to the seller with a new offer based on what the report revealed.


posted by Eric Rothman

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