Home Inspection Costs—And How To Get The Most From Your Money

April 29, 2021

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8
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Your home is a big investment—a home inspection helps you protect it.

A lot of things can feel “up in the air” about buying a home, but thanks to a home inspection, you be sure of one thing: the condition of the home you intend to buy. Home inspectors are experienced and impartial professionals who will evaluate and document each aspect of the property. While home inspection costs may vary, they’re almost always worthwhile.

Quick Overview

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Home inspection costs range from about $250 to $400.

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Additional inspections for pests, mold, lead, or radon can cost more.

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Inspection is a great opportunity to learn about your home.

Average Home Inspection Costs for 2020

A home inspection can save you more money and surprises in the months and years to come—and a great home inspector has many years of experience. Plus, they’ll be physically doing a lot to earn their fee, from crawling through the basement, to climbing up on the roof and closely inspecting every inch of the property.

Because of the expertise and experience home inspectors bring, home inspections run from about $250 to $400, although they vary by area, among other factors. This is one of the few costs you will need to pay before your loan closes.

Typically, home inspections run from about $250 to $400, although they vary by area, among other factors.

Factors That Influence Home Inspection Costs

In addition to the region, several other factors affect the final cost of a home inspection. These include the size of the home, the type of home, and what is included as part of the inspection.

Size of the home

A bigger home equals a longer inspection, which equals (slightly) higher fees. Larger homes cost more to inspect because they typically have multiple HVAC and heating systems, and the inspector has to evaluate each one. The inspector will also check the plumbing connections in all of the bathrooms. The more of those there are, the longer it will take.

Many home inspectors have a flat rate for homes up to 2,000 square feet, then additional fees for every 500 square feet beyond that.

Condition and age of the home

Homes that are more than 75 years old may cost more to inspect because they are more likely to have defects. They’re also more likely to have unique systems that require specialized knowledge on the part of the inspector.

That’s not to say that new constructions don’t require an inspection. Even if the building was deemed up to code by the county and granted a certificate of occupancy, that doesn’t mean there aren’t problems that may dissuade potential buyers. A home inspection is still an important step to ensuring the value of your home, no matter how new it is.

Inspection add-ons

During the inspection, the inspector will complete a thorough but non-invasive investigation into the following aspects of the property:

  • Structural aspects of the home, including the foundation, windows, and doors
  • The roof, including its shingles, flashing, and fascia
  • The exterior of the home, checking for any signs of rot or decay
  • The interior of the home, including framing, insulation, HVAC, plumbing, heating, and electrical systems
  • All kitchens and bathrooms for electrical code compliance and plumbing
  • Any potential water or septic issues on the grounds of the property

Some inspectors may perform their own checks for termites and other wood-destroying insects, while others may refer you to a specialist for these items. Other specialist inspections that may either be required or recommended in your area include radon, mold, well water quality, lead paint, asbestos, and pests.

If you want to be especially thorough, you may also spring for a thermal imaging home inspection, which reveals moisture issues, termite nests, electrical problems, rodent infestations, heat and energy loss, ventilation problems, foundation cracks, structural concerns, and missing insulation beyond what the naked eye can detect, for an extra $250 on average.

Some inspectors may perform their own checks for termites and other wood-destroying insects, while others may refer you to a specialist for these items.

How to Get the Most from Your Money During an Inspection

To ensure you are getting the best value from your home inspection cost, you’ll want to follow these key pieces of advice.

Find a qualified inspector

Your real estate agent may recommend an inspector they work with frequently, but you should seek out other recommendations as well. If you have friends or family who purchased a home recently and had a good experience with their home inspection, ask them for names and phone numbers.

For a place to start, you can use sites like Angie’s List to match you to a home inspector, or search the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) website.

Before scheduling an appointment with a potential inspector, ask them what they cover as part of the inspection and what they will charge for the home in question.

Prepare for the inspection

If the property is currently unoccupied, you may need to coordinate with your agent and the seller’s agent to ensure the utilities are switched on for the inspection. The inspector won’t be able to verify that everything is working properly otherwise.

Ask your inspector if there is anything else you should prepare ahead of time. They may request that any crawl spaces or attics are cleared so they can gain access.

You should also do your best to schedule the inspection for a day with good weather. The inspector will need to climb on the roof of the property and any rain, snow, or excessive wind will make that difficult or impossible.

It’s best to get your inspection done sooner rather than later—before your appraisal. If there are significant issues found during inspection that need remedied before closing, those changes will be noted in the appraisal. If your home inspection isn’t done before the appraisal, another appraisal will be needed. (That’s an easily avoidable extra cost.)  

Be present during the inspection

You are not required to be present at the inspection, but being there will help you get the most value from the process.

This is the best opportunity you will have to speak with a knowledgeable, experienced, and unbiased professional about the condition of the home you intend to purchase. Especially as a first-time homebuyer, the inspector’s insight can be a valuable look at what it takes to care for and maintain a home.

If you choose not to be at the inspection, you will still receive documentation from the inspector, but you’ll miss a great deal of detail if you don’t walk through the house with them. The big value is in the little things they note (and questions you ask) about the property. And if there are any defects, your home inspector can put them in perspective on the spot (vs. hiring someone else to come out and look at them). Since the home inspector has no stake in the purchase, they will give you the honest truth about the severity of various issues and whether they may be deal breakers for you based on their experience.

If you are planning to do any renovations to the home after closing, discuss those plans with your home inspector so they can give you an idea of whether they are viable or not.

Make sure your real estate agent is also present at the inspection and forward them a copy of the inspection report. If there are any defects with the property that require negotiation, your agent should be fully apprised of the details so they can go to bat for you.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions

Home inspectors are professionals with years of experience and highly detailed knowledge of homes and how they work. You are paying for their expertise, so take advantage of it.

Remember that a home inspection isn’t a pass/fail test. The goal is to provide you with all of the information you need to make an informed decision about your home purchase.

While your inspector is showing you the various aspects of the property, ask any questions you have and ask them to clarify anything you don’t understand. You can also use the inspection as an opportunity to learn more about the home you intend to buy. The inspector will have valuable advice about home maintenance and improvements that you will be grateful to have as a new homeowner.

Remember that a home inspection isn’t a pass/fail test. The goal is to provide you with all of the information you need to make an informed decision about your home purchase.

A Home Inspection Is Almost Always Worth the Cost

Writing a check for a few hundred dollars to a home inspector may seem like an unnecessary expense, especially when there is nothing visibly wrong with the house. But considering how much money you are about to invest in your new home, it’s important to make sure that your investment is sound.

If the inspector finds only minor issues, you get peace of mind. If they find something major, it allows you to deal with it before the closing table.

No home is perfect, but hopefully the inspector will find only a few, minor defects to document on the inspection report. If there are defects that require fixing, you may be able to negotiate with the seller to address them before the closing or provide a credit toward the closing costs.

On the other hand, if the defects are significant or more than you are prepared to address, you may have to walk away from the deal. But in any of these possible scenarios, having taken the time to arrange a high quality home inspection will protect your investment down the road.

Want a second opinion on your home loan? We’re Lower. Just give us a shout.

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