7 Things to Know About a Home Inspection

Posted by Ryan Fitzgerald on Thursday, December 17th, 2020 at 5:31pm.

7 Things to Know About a Home Inspection

7 Things to Know About a Home Inspection

Many buyers and sellers will ask us as their Realtor® what do we need to know about the home inspection?

Let's jump in and take a look at everything you need to know about a home inspection:

1. What Is a Home Inspection?

A home inspection is a part of the home buying process in which an inspector will observe the home and include their findings in a written home inspection report. 

After you go under contract, it is common for the buyer to hire a home inspector in order to perform a visual observation of the house. The home inspector will identify safety, health, or major mechanical issues in line with the standards of the state ensuring everything is to code.

A home inspector will look for things that are not functioning properly, near the end of their service life, unsafe, or otherwise significantly deficient.

There are two different types of home inspections. There are seller's inspections and buyer's inspections.

A buyer's inspection happens before the closing of the sale after the buyer has made an offer. There's an opportunity after the home inspection for the buyer to request repairs or renegotiate their offer if issues arise.

A seller inspection, on the other hand, occurs before the seller lists the home on the market. A seller's inspection is also referred to as a pre-listing inspection. Some, but not all, sellers opt to perform a home inspection during the process of preparing their home for sale so that they can know about any issues ahead of time and six them. This can help them save time in the closing process.

2. How Much Does a Home Inspection Cost?

The location of the home for sale, as well as the age of the home and the size of the home, will be determinant and how much getting a home inspection cost.

In general, home inspection costs range between $300 and $450.

For an average 2000 square-foot home, buyers can reasonably expect to pay at least $400 to get a home inspection. If a home needs additional inspections or is larger than that, it can easily cost $500-$600 or more.

Other things that can make a home inspection more expensive is how far the inspector must travel to get there and how unique the home is. You also might find that more experienced home inspectors might charge a higher rate than less experienced home inspectors.

Who Pays For the Home Inspection?

For buyer's inspections that occur as a part of the closing process, the buyer pretty much always pays. This is because the process is designed to protect the buyer, so they, therefore, are responsible for the cost.

For a pre-listing inspection, the seller would cover the cost before even listing the home on the market.

3. How Long Does a Home Inspection Take?

In general, a home inspection will take between two and four hours. Depending on the size of the home, however, it could take more time than this.

How long a home inspection takes depends on the size of the home, the number of defects, the helpfulness of the owner in preparation for the inspection, and the thoroughness of the inspector.

It is fair to expect that an inspection will take between two and four hours unless you are aware of certain exceptional circumstances.

4. What to Look For in a Home Inspection?

Home inspectors are looking at a variety of different aspects of a home during an inspection. Let's take a look at what they're looking for.


The roof is one of the major items on a home inspector's list to make sure it is functioning as intended by protecting the home from rain and other things that could cause damage to the home. There are some obvious indications your roof needs repair so your home inspector will likely know right away if it's something worth taking a further look at by a roofing specialist.

HVAC System

They will take a look at the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system with a thorough visual inspection. They will be looking to make sure that the thermostat, ducts, air conditioner, furnace, and heat pump are all functioning as they should be. They will also be sure to check for any signs of carbon monoxide gas leaks.

After visual inspection, they will also perform a manual check on the system.


Home inspectors will also look at the electrical aspects of the home. They will start by taking a look at the wires outside that lead into the electrical panel. Bill be sure to make sure that there aren't any bushes, trees, or other shrubs that are interfering with the wiring.

In newer neighborhoods, the wiring will be underground. In an older home, a home inspector will inspect any visible wires and make sure that there is no metal showing and they are covered with insulation.

They also take a look at the electrical panel to make sure that it is not connected by fuses but rather by circuit breakers.

The size of the main breaker will also be inspected to make sure that it can withstand the electrical needs in the house. They will make sure that the wiring isn't loose and is made of copper rather than aluminum. No also want to make sure that there isn't any rust inside the electrical panel.

They will also test all of the wall outlets with the multimeter. They will check to see if all of the light switches in the home function and will take note if any of them don't work.


All of the bathtubs, toilets, sinks, showers, pipes, water lines, and any areas of the home where there is water that runs through, will be checked. They will test the filler mechanisms, the levels in all toilets, and the flappers to make sure that they work as they should.

Pipes and hydrants outside the house also are checked for leaks to make sure that there is proper antifreeze protection.

All of the water heaters will also have their pipes, temperature, and pressure relief valves checked as well.


If the home has an attic, a home inspector will look at the condition of the insulation as this is an important aspect of how energy-efficient the houses. They also check the ventilation in the attic, as poor ventilation can lead to moisture and the growth of mold.

A home inspector will also take a look for any signs of damaged insulation, water stains, or any other signifiers of leaks. This is to be sure that there isn't any water damage.

With homes where the furnace is located in the attic, they will take a look at whether or not there is any rust around the furnace. This is because this is also a sign of water damage.

Any signs of fire damage will also be something they are looking for.

Taking a look at the attic is also an opportunity for the home inspector to assess the overall framing of the home and the roof. They use this information to help them determine whether or not the roofing system on the house is strong enough to withstand high winds.

Floors, Ceilings, and Walls

The floors, ceilings, and walls, will be checked by a home inspector for any water damage, mold, or discoloration. They will look for cracks, sagging feelings, or any structural damage.

They will also look for bulging areas in the walls or uneven baseboards in the flooring.

A home inspector is only looking for areas that need repair due to safety hazards or structural damage. They are not taking note of cosmetic items.

Windows and Doors

All of the windows and doors in the home will be checked to make sure that they open and close as they should.

They will take note of the types of window doing like five seconds vehicle s that are present in each room and will make sure that all of the peasants in the home have at least one window that operates the could be used as an exit in an emergency situation.

No also make sure that the doorframes are off-balance or sagging since this could be indicative of foundation problems.


Home inspectors typically start on the outside of the home and work their way inside when looking at the foundation.

They will look for signs of a faulty foundation that include things like a sunken porch, cracked steps leading up to the house, or a chimney leaning away from the home.

Once inside the home, they're also signs that can be found of a problematic foundation. These can include considerable cracks in the ceiling or drywall, windows or doors that are hard to close, lopsided flooring, or several cracked tiles.

The home inspector will also take a look at other structural elements of the home including the home framing. An extremely important aspect of the home inspection process is making sure that the structure is in strong condition and free of mold.


If the home you are selling or are looking to buy has a basement, it will certainly be inspected by a home inspector. They will look for any signs of water damage has been in the basement. These might include damaged walls, uneven flooring, mold or mildew growth, a musty odor, or moisture in the basement.

An inspector will also look at the areas around basement doors and windows to make sure that no water can enter.

5. Home Inspection Checklist

Home Inspectors work through the home with checklists of every item that needs to be observed and reported on. The items mentioned above are all items on the home inspectors checklist as well as many others. Home inspectors inspect so many homes on a weekly basis that they know what to look for before even stepping foot on the premises. Using the checklist, the home inspector has an easy guide as they move throughout the home observing it's condition.

There are common home inspection problems that come up on almost every home inspection report that will likely be on yours as well. Depending on what year your home is built you're likely to have a certain type of plumbing OR your home is likely built to a certain 'code' that may have changed in your state. These are some of the common items that pop up on the home inspection checklist.

6. What are the Major Issues Home Inspectors Look For?

A home inspection checklist is incredibly thorough. It is the job of home inspectors to observe, evaluate, and report on absolutely everything and anything that has to do with the home.

It is common for things to come up during the home inspection. However, there are major issues that can have an impact on the sale.

One of the biggest issues that home inspectors are looking for is water damage. This is because water can cause all kinds of major issues in a home. If there is water in the basement it could mean that there are plumbing issues, roof leaks, or structural damage. If water damage is overlooked, mold conform.

Another major issue that home inspectors are looking for is the structural integrity of your home. There are a number of times that can indicate that the structures compromise or at home has settled. These include uneven or bouncy floors, gaps between floors and walls, cracks in basement walls around doorframes, cracks in stonework or bricks, cleaning or cracked chimney, cleaning stairs or front porch, nails popping out of the walls, and gaps around door and window frames.

Other major issues include damage to the roof, electrical system problems, plumbing related problems, pest and insect infestations, and issues with the HVAC system.

7. How do I Negotiate After the Home Inspection?

You have a number of different options when it comes to negotiating repairs after a home inspection. One of the benefits of a home inspection is that it can help to identify deficiencies in the home that you are thinking about buying.

If issues are revealed during the inspection, this is an opportunity for you to negotiate with the seller.

If there is a home inspection contingency in place, and the problems that have popped up make you no longer want to sell the home, you might be able to back out entirely. You should be able to receive the deposit that you put down back in full if you did have this contingency in place.

One option is that you can ask the seller to make repairs before you will purchase the house. You can also ask them for credits towards the closing costs that you will be paying.

Another option is that you could ask for a reduction in the sale price in order to make up for the repairs that you will have to pay for.

The last option is that you could choose to move forward with the deal if you so choose to move forward and the sellers are not willing to negotiate.

In general, sellers might be willing to negotiate when major issues are uncovered. However, with superficial or aesthetic items, they will likely be less inclined to negotiate. Sellers of homes in soft markets or that have been on the market for a long time, might be more flexible.

It's important to note that sellers often won't often negotiate the issues that were known or were clearly visible before you made your offer.

Ryan Fitzgerald Raleigh RealtyHi there! I'm Ryan Fitzgerald, a REALTOR in Raleigh-Durham, NC and the owner of Raleigh Realty. Chances are you and I share a similar passion, Real Estate! I also have a passion for building businesses, working out, inspiring others, technology, sports, and people. Connect with me on Facebook and Instagram!

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