Buying a home is one of the most exciting yet stressful times in someone’s life. Many would-be homebuyers would prefer to be thinking about paint colors, flooring options, and drawing up plans for an extensive kitchen remodel.
But before all that can happen, before you own the home, you have to do something that is essential to buying a home, and that is called the Home Inspection. In fact, there are two things you’ll probably do when you buy a home; a Home Inspection and a Home Appraisal.
What Is A Home Inspection?
A home inspection is when you hire a licensed real estate inspector to evaluate the safety and functionality of the home you are buying to see if there are any noticeable issues.1 The inspector is usually someone who is certified to inspect residential homes and is experienced with home repairs and local home building codes.
Depending on the size of the home, the home inspection usually takes two hours, sometimes three, and they will walk around the entire home, inspect the outside walls, a roof inspection (more on that below), the foundation of the home, and all the rooms inside.
They’ll test out the plumbing and electrical work along with all the appliances. They’ll also check out the furnace, water heater, and if one is installed at the property, the Air Conditioning unit.
Some additional items they’ll look for are wood damage, insulation (attic and walls), water damage, and code violations. If there is an outside deck, they’ll also do a visual inspection of that. Does the home have a fireplace? The inspector should also look at the fireplace along with the Chimney.
They are basically a “finder of damage” and a “tester” to ensure everything works.
Why Do I Need A Home Inspection?
The report will give you an inside-out look into the home you are buying. Unless you are a professional contractor, hiring a Home Inspector is highly suggested to obtain a non-bias report on the home’s condition.
Here Is What A Home Inspector Won’t Do
A home inspector will not do repairs or make a definitive determination of what repairs are needed.
Let’s say that the inspector tested one of the electrical outlets, and there appears to be a problem with that outlet. The inspector will not specifically say what is causing the problem, nor will the home inspector offer to fix the electrical outlet. But they will make a note in the report that it’s not working.
The report will not say if the home has an electrical wiring problem, just that one outlet was not working and that you should look further into it by hiring a licensed electrician.
Another example is if the inspector found a water stain on the ceiling below a hallway bathroom. The Appraiser will not state what caused the water damage, and they won’t offer to try and find and fix the leak, but they will make a note in the report of the water damage.
The report will also suggest you hire a licensed plumber to determine where the leak is coming from and to repair the problem.
A Home Inspector will not repair a home to meet local building codes, but they may point out in the report areas of the home that are not up to “code.”
Where To Find A Local Home Inspector
You have a couple of different options to find a local Home Inspector.
First, ask your Realtor for two or three referrals. I would also visit Yelp, Angie’s List, and the Better Business Bureau online so you can find the right home inspector for your transaction. Here is a suggestion – when calling around, make sure you ask the following questions;
- Do you go on to the roof to complete a roof inspection?
- Is there anywhere in the home you will not go/will not inspect?
Some Home Inspectors won’t go on to the roof, either by choice or because their insurance won’t allow them to (Home Inspectors are supposed to carry an insurance policy).
In addition to roofs, some inspectors will not crawl underneath a house or into small spaces, so that is something you’ll want to know upfront before ordering a Home Inspection.
How Much Does A Home Inspection Cost?
The good news is that the cost of a Home Inspection is generally less than the cost of an appraisal.
While the actual cost varies from city to city, most buyers will pay between $300 and $400 for the Home Inspection report. Not bad when you consider the fact that they might find a repair that’s needed or something that needs to be replaced. Some home repairs can cost thousands of dollars, especially if it’s an electrical or plumbing issue.
When Do I Order The Home Inspection?
The Home Inspector is hired just after you and the seller agree on a price, and the home enters into a contract. Usually, within the first five days, an inspection is done, and they deliver the report two to three days after the inspection. Most people complete the Home Inspection before they order the Appraisal.
Does A Lender Require A Home Inspection In California?
Usually not. It’s been my experience that a lender will only require the Home Inspection report if the Appraiser makes a note in the appraisal report that there is an issue with the home—a cracked foundation, rotting wood, visible water damage inside, etc.
Is A Pest Inspection The Same As A Home Inspection?
No. A Pest Inspection is a bit different than a Home Inspection and is usually done by two different people/companies. If, in your Home Inspection report, there is a note that the inspector saw evidence of pest damage or just that pest might be an issue, then you would want to order a Pest Inspection.
A Pest Inspector will come out to the home and inspect all the problem areas noted in the report and look in places the Home Inspector probably didn’t look.
The job of the Pest Inspector is not only to find bugs and animals but also to determine if they caused any damage. And if they are present and/or caused some damage, then the inspector will offer a way to solve and repair the problem.
Foundation Inspection Report
If your Home Inspector claimed that there might be an issue with the home’s foundation, then you’ll want to obtain a Foundation Inspection report from a structural engineer.2 It sounds expensive, but it’s way less money than buying a home that needs massive foundation work.
The Foundation Inspection costs vary from city to city but generally should not run more than $1,000. Repairing a foundation could end up costing s significant amount of money, so if there is a potential issue, you’ll want to spend the money on a Foundation Inspection report so that you know exactly what’s going on.
Will A Home Inspection Affect My Mortgage Rate?
No, there is no impact on your mortgage rate. It might have an impact on your loan approval tough. If the lender reviews your inspection report and sees notable property damage, they may turn down your loan application altogether.
Only send in a copy of the Home Inspection report if your mortgage lender makes it a requirement to close the loan.
Tip On Completing The Home Inspection
Be sure to shop around and ask questions.
Call at least three to four inspectors, and make sure you ask them plenty of questions about what they do and what to expect. And if one or two of them seem “too busy” to answer your questions, then move on to the next. Hiring the right Home Inspector is an important part of the home-buying process.