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What does a home inspection consist of?

Cut away of a homeAccording to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), home inspectors charge anywhere from $300 to $500, but the cost depends on the size of the home and the scope of the inspection. In some areas of the country, home inspectors charge several thousand dollars and more if you want a specialized inspection. The home inspectors fees are usually paid at the time of inspection, at least in part because the inspector might not be paid at all if he waited until closing and no closing took place. Home inspection fees are not required as a condition of a mortgage. A home inspection is a detailed evaluation that covers every part of the house, from the foundation to the roof structure. The home inspector should inspect the condition of the heating system, air conditioning system (temperature permitting), plumbing, electrical systems, roof, attic, visible insulation, walls, ceilings, floors, windows, doors, foundation, basement, and visible structure. Most home inspectors will also provide additional services not included in a typical home inspection, including pest, mold, radon, and water testing. Basic home inspection costs vary based on the home's size-the bigger the home, the more it costs to inspect.

Frequently Asked Questions About Home Inspections

Are home inspectors responsible for missed items?

Prior to the home inspection, the home inspector will ask you to sign a contract. Chances are, there is a clause that limits the home inspector's liability. In fairness to the home inspector, he or she is not perfect and problems can be missed.

Do home inspectors check for asbestos in a home?

Some home inspectors may be certified for asbestos inspection. Most certified home inspectors will charge an additional fee for an asbestos inspection. If you are considering an old house, it is definitely worth the money. The cost to remove the asbestos is expensive and the health consequences are severe. You have probably seen the attorney ads on television.

Do lenders require a home inspection?

No. Lenders rely on the appraiser's opinion of the structural integrity of the home. Appraisers are not home inspectors, however, appraisers will note any condition of the home that may require further examination.

Does a conventional loan require a home inspection?

Conventional loans, loans that meet the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) do not require a home inspection. These quasi-government agencies rely on the opinion of the appraiser.

How long does a home inspection take?

In general, a good home inspection will take at least 3 hours. However, the amount of time required to thoroughly inspect the home will depend on the size of the home and the services provided (i.e. roof, electrical, pest, etc.

Is a home inspection required by the FHA or VA?

No, however, the Federal Housing Administration and Veterans Administration strongly recommend a home inspection. In fact, the FHA requires homebuyers to sign the "For Your Protection: Get a Home Inspection" form at mortgage application.

It is worth the money?

You bet. Ask any real estate agent about customers who waived the home inspection. If you’re low on cash, ask the municipality if the zoning or building officer will inspect the home. Local housing agencies have home inspectors on staff to help low to moderate income home buyers.

What do home inspectors check?

The home inspector should examine all mechanical and electrical components, including light switches and electrical outlets to be certain they function properly and are grounded correctly. The electrical panel and any subpanels should be thoroughly inspected for code compliance.

The plumbing inspection includes evaluating the water pipes and any appliances where water flows; including the washer, dishwasher, toilets, sinks, and any other fixture(s). The home inspector should operate the appliances to make sure that they work properly.

The heating system is probably the single most important inspection because a malfunctioning gas furnace can produce carbon monoxide gas, which, even in small amounts, can be deadly. More than 400 people die each year from carbon monoxide and some studies estimate that as many as 20,000 people visit the emergency room annually due to carbon monoxide poising.

A roof replacement can be a significant expense, and lenders require at least 5 years useful life as a condition of the mortgage. The home inspector should "walk" the roof or at least climb up to the roof where he can get a good look at it.

The chimney(s) should be visibly inspected and the condition(s) evaluated. The inspector should comment on any cracking around the chimney and look for loose bricks and mortar. A chimney that is pulling away from the house can be very expensive to remedy. Improperly installed or deteriorated flashing around the chimney can result in water leaks.

Outside your home, the home inspector will examine such things as external drainage from the water heater, clothes dryer external venting, all drainage piping leading away from your home, and sidewalks and driveway pavement, to be sure there are no dangerous cracks or uneven surfaces that could cause falls.

After the inspections have been completed, you should have a good idea of the overall condition of the home. Ideally, you want a report free and clear of any problems, but some issues may require even more specialized inspections to put your mind at ease.

Who pays for the home inspection?

The buyer usually pays for the home inspection, although the seller is permitted to pay for the inspection.