The home inspection: it’s the buyer’s best opportunity to uncover a home’s problems and negotiate to have them repaired or paid for (as long as the contract has an inspection contingency in place). If you’ve never experienced this process, though, you’re probably wondering what to expect from a home inspection.
How much will it cost? How does it protect your real estate investment? Do you need an inspection before buying a home?
We’ve got answers.
In this blog, we’ll discuss what to expect from a home inspection as either the seller or buyer.
Let’s dive in.
What to Expect From a Home Inspection? 3 Key Features
As a home buyer, a home inspection is the last chance to identify existing defects in the house (and negotiate to resolve them) before finalizing the purchase of the home.
As a seller, a home inspection ensures the good condition of the home you’re selling or planning to sell. With that in mind, it’s reasonable to wonder what the inspector will be looking for.
Here are the three key features of a routine home inspection:
A home inspector will inspect the inside and outside of the home. This includes the HVAC system, plumbing, electrical wiring and panels, structural components, roof, and foundation. The inspector will create a written report that details the inspection results.
The inspection takes about 2-4 hours. Inspections can be longer or shorter depending on the size of the house, the number of defects, the thoroughness of the inspector, and the accessibility of certain home elements (like the attic, for example). Still, most take between 2-4 hours. The best inspectors will deliver your finished inspection report the same day.
Buyers can choose to attend the inspection. While not all buyers choose to participate in the inspection, some want to learn more about the home and ask questions during the inspection process.
When the inspector issues their full report, you can expect it to include pictures and videos of the home’s defects listed under a separate tab for easy reading. Usually, most defects listed are minor and may not even need to be fixed before the sale.
Instead of worrying about minor defects, we recommend focusing on the home’s more severe issues, which you may need to repair before the sale.
What do Home Inspectors Look for?
Home inspectors have a long list of elements they inspect, as set forth by the International Association of Certified Home Inspection (InterNACHI):
Here are the twelve inspection categories certified home inspectors will review:
The home’s roof.
The home’s exterior.
The home’s basement, foundation, crawlspace, and structure.
The home’s heating system.
The home’s cooling system.
The home’s plumbing system.
The home’s electrical system.
The home’s fireplace (if applicable).
The home’s attic, insulation, and ventilation.
The home’s doors, windows, and interior.
How Much do Home Inspections Cost?
The cost of a home inspection will vary depending on the size of the house and the presence of systems like air conditioning and fireplaces.
In Montana, the average cost of a home inspection is between $450 for a small house and a basic inspection to about $1000 for a large home that requires ancillary inspections for things like radon and mold.
Who Pays for the Home Inspection?
In most cases, buyers are responsible for paying for the home inspection. That’s not always the case, however. Some sales contracts include language that requires the seller to pay, and the arrangement is always open to negotiation.
Sometimes, a house seller pays for an inspection before putting the property on the market. This allows the seller to identify and fix issues before listing the home.
How can Sellers Prepare for the Home Inspection?
Your home is under contract, there’s an inspection contingency in place, and the home inspector is scheduled to arrive at any time. How can you make the process easier for them? Here are a few tips we recommend:
Leave the keys (or be there to let the inspector in). If you opt not to be there during the home inspection, leave your keys under the doormat or the electrical panel, where the inspector can easily find them.
Turn on all pilot lights. If you have gas fireplaces or furnaces, make sure the pilot lights are lit so the inspector can verify the function of heating and other appliances.
Ensure access. Ensure there’s an unobstructed path to critical areas like the basement, attic, furnace, crawl space, drainage access points, septic tank, HVAC unit, water heater, and other major appliances. This makes the home inspection easier and faster for the inspector.
Have the utilities reconnected. If the house has been vacant and the utilities are off, have them turned back on for the inspection.
These are simple tips, but they’ll ensure a fast, comprehensive, accurate home inspection for you and your buyer.
What Happens After the Home Inspection?
If the home inspection report reveals only minor issues, the sale can usually go forward as planned. If the report indicates serious issues, though, the buyer and seller will need to work together to take action.
In some cases, an issue may warrant additional inspections. In others, a seller will negotiate with the buyer to have significant issues paid for before the sale closes. Rarely, the defect may be so severe that it causes the home sale to fall through.
If you find yourself facing severe issues on the home inspection, work with your real estate agent and home inspector to determine the next steps.
Why Choose us to Conduct Your Home Inspection?
The owner of our company is also the author of “The Top 10 Things Found During a Home Inspection” course currently offered to Realtors through the Montana Association of Realtors.
Here are a few more of our qualifications:
CPI – Certified Professional Inspector
AIC2 – International Association of Certified Indoor Air Consultants
CCPIA – Certified Commercial Property Inspectors Association
Don’t settle for anything less than the best on your upcoming home inspection. Contact us today to book your inspection.