Knowing what to look for in a home inspection is essential. In short, home inspections are when you hire a professional to inspect a property for any potential issues. If you’re a first-time buyer, you probably have questions about this process and we’re here to guide you.
Why Do a Home Inspection?
As a buyer, it’s typical to submit an offer contingent on a home inspection. Being cautious during the buying process is a plus. The last thing you want is to find major issues with your home after you’ve purchased it. A professional home inspector will be able to catch things that you may not have thought about or examined.
A Typical Home Inspection
A standard home inspection for a single-family home will usually take 2-4 hours. However, the length of time is heavily dependent on the size of the home. After the inspector finishes, they will send the client a report. Usually, the report will come with their findings, pictures, analysis, and recommendations.
Although the cost of home inspections can vary greatly by city and state, in Washington, the typical cost of a home inspection is around $400 – $600 for single-family homes. According to the American Society of Home Inspectors, a standard home inspection will cover:
- Heating and cooling systems
- Plumbing system
- Roof, attic, and visible insulation
- Walls, ceilings, floors, windows, and doors
- Foundation, basement, and other structural components
- Possible cracks in cement, indications of wood rot or water leakage
Hiring a professional, reliable home inspector is imperative. You can collect referrals from family and friends, and your local real estate agent should also have some names of inspectors they know and trust. Once you’ve found someone, you’ll be able to discuss the areas listed above after they’ve concluded their inspection.
Tips for Home Inspection Day
Here are some tips to ensure success when the home you hope to own is inspected.
- When possible, attend the home inspection so that you can see any damage yourself and ask questions.
- While you will get a detailed report, having an in-depth discussion with the home inspector before receiving the report will give you a better understanding of any current or potential issues.
- Every house has flaws but try to focus on what repairs must be done and if there are any dealbreakers for you.
- A good inspector will walk you through their findings with a thorough report. It may be long and seem overwhelming but understand that they are supposed to document every single issue, no matter how small.
- Your inspector and your agent will be able to help you distinguish which issues are hazardous, time-sensitive, costly, and/or red flags. Don’t be afraid to ask any questions you may have. Utilize their expertise.
Once you have all of the information in front of you, weigh the costs of potential and needed repairs and discuss worst-case scenarios. That way, if you proceed with purchasing the home, you are fully aware of what issues you may need to address right away and down the road. Of course, surprise costs can still come up when it comes to home repairs, but at least you’re able to gather as much information as possible through a detailed inspection.
For more information about the home buying process, check out our Guide to Buying a Home (PDF).