Spend Hundreds to Save Thousands: What You Need to Know about Home Inspections

A home inspection can save you from costly repairs due to neglect or age of an existing home. A home inspection can also be valuable for new construction as building codes and requirements differ for each county-so don't rely on code inspectors and they simply don't use the due diligence that a home inspector will provide. The cost for an inspection could prevent purchasing a home that will cost you far more in future repairs.

Locate a Qualified Home Inspector
Some states require licensing of home inspectors.

Check Professional Organizations
If your state doesn't have a license requirement, ask the home inspector if they're a member of the American Society of Home Inspectors. Verify with the association.

Ask For Referrals
Ask your Realtor or mortgage broker if they have a list of home inspectors they trust based on past performance. Most do. Also, you can check with any friends or family that recently purchased a home.

Questions to Ask Your Home Inspector
Call the compiled list of home inspectors, asking the following questions. Any professional will expect questions like these and won't be offended.

  • What does your inspection cover?
    The inspector should ensure their inspection and inspection report will meet all requirements in your state.
  • How long have you been practicing in the home inspection profession and how many inspections have you completed?
    The inspector should be able to provide his or her history in the profession and perhaps a few referrals names.
  • Are you specifically experienced in residential inspection?
    Related experience in construction or engineering is helpful, but is no substitute for training and experience in the unique area of home inspection.
  • How long will the inspection take?
    The average on-site inspection time for a home inspector is two to three hours for a single-family house; anything less may not be enough time to perform a thorough inspection.
  • How much will it cost?
    Costs vary, depending on the region, size and age of the house and scope of services. Cost does not necessarily reflect quality.
  • What type of inspection report do you provide and how long will it take to receive the report?
    Ask to see samples and most inspectors provide their full report within 24 hours of the inspection.
  • Will I be able to attend the inspection?
    This is a valuable educational opportunity, and an inspector's refusal to allow this should raise a red flag. Never pass up this opportunity to see your prospective home through the eyes of an expert.
  • Do you maintain membership in a professional home inspector association?
    There are many state and national associations for home inspectors.
  • Do you participate in continuing education?
    The inspector's commitment to continuing education is a measure for professionalism and service to the consumer.

The Bottom Line of Home Inspections

When you make a written offer, insist the offer is contingent on a home inspection. The cost for an inspection could prevent purchasing a home that will cost you far more in future repairs. Once you obtain satisfactory home inspections results, proceed with your offer. As we said earlier, paying for a home inspection is a small price to pay for peace of mind.