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Buying a home will probably be the most expensive purchase anyone makes in their lifetime. There sure are a lot of moving parts to consider. Buyers want to make sure that they get a good price on the dwelling. Plus there is the matter of applying for the loan. That is a separate transaction in itself. Not to be lost in the shuffle is the home inspection. This is probably the last item on a buyers mind.

But the home inspection is truly an important piece in the overall home buying process. A home inspection is conducted to protect the buyer. Its main purpose is to check the overall quality of the home and then to relay that information back to the buyer. A home inspection can bring to light issues that may actually cancel the sale, or at least be remedied before the closing. So let’s take a look at what is involved in a home inspection, what it costs, commons issues that are uncovered, and what you should know about the report that is issued.

Why We Get Home Inspections

Home inspections are conducted by a qualified home inspector. However, they aren’t mandatory; but are highly recommended by any professional you talk with. It is also a contingency in many contracts. There aren’t many reasons to skip the inspection. Many real estate professionals will tell you that many buyers end up regretting it. The only reason that one might want to skip the process is if there is more than one offer on the home. The seller might choose the buyer who opts out of the check on the home.

Before you choose to opt out of an inspection, you should know that the costs are really inexpensive when you consider the overall home buying experience. An inspection should cost in the neighborhood of $200-$600. It all depends on the inspector you use, the size of the home, the age, and even the location of the home itself. Older homes cost more because they normally have more wear and tear. If electrical systems have been replaced or the home has been remodeled, this may require more inspection time. He or she should be able to offer an estimate before they begin their work.

Home Inspection Cost Estimations

The cost you will pay will vary as discussed above. We will break it down even further. Remember that the smaller the residence, the less you should have to pay. There isn’t going to be a set standard.  Be sure and ask your inspector the cost before you agree.

Condos

These types of residences have lower costs. Inspections on condos that have square footage under 1000 total square feet, should cost a buyer somewhere in the neighborhood of $200.  

Single Family

Single family homes tend to be more expensive than condos due to the fact they are usually larger. If the home is over 2000 sq. ft.,  expect to pay over $400. If your home has a basement then expect to pay an additional fee, somewhere around $50

Townhomes

Townhomes will come in 2 different variations. Attached and de-tached townhomes. The latter should be grouped with single family home costs as they are independent structures. The attached variety will share a wall with the neighbor and potentially a roof.

Remember townhome square footage will vary. They can easily exceed 2500 square feet.

Now some inspectors will charge based upon the hour. Here the fees come can back somewhere between $50-$75.

Check out this resource for a company that publishes their inspection fees online. Here are some samples.

2500 sq ft or less: $395

2501-3000 sq. ft. : $445

Over 4500 sq. ft. 14 cents per sq. ft.

Here is a great resource for certain home repairs and what they might cost.

Common Issues that are Uncovered

common issues during inspectionPhoto by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on flickr [CC BY 2.0]

The list can be long or short. But usually glaring weakness can be revealed among older and newer homes. Don’t think just because a home is brand new that is without its faults. The process of constructing a home is a long one, and many errors can be made along the way.

Rodent Infestation

Buyers sure would want to know about a rodent or pest issue. In certain parts of the country, termites are also a big problem. In many cases, issues are so severe, that buyers must vacate the home temporarily so the fixes can be put in place. Other pests to be aware of are carpenter ants.

If you are using the services of a real estate agent, ask them about pest inspections. You probably hired an agent to assist you through the process. So any questions you have should be directed towards them. If you aren’t using the services of a realtor, then you will need to be proactive.

Potential Problems Down the Road

Home maintenance can be quite costly. Don’t you want to know what potential costs you may have to bear in the foreseeable future? Some of the largest replacement costs can be attributable to a new roof.

Before you purchase that new home, don’t you think it’s worth it to determine how many more years of roof life you may have left?  This won’t be a concern for a newer home, but should be with an older home. This may assist you to start to budget for certain items in the home.

Other items that can be costly include a new hot water heater. Unfortunately sometimes we don’t’ know when an item is going to break down. But we can estimate the life of certain appliances and items.  Here is a list of items that home inspectors should cover:

  • Electrical systems
  • Roof
  • Heating and air-conditioning
  • Windows
  • Plumbing
  • Structural and foundation issues
  • Water damage
  • Mold

There are also items that a buyer should not ask to be repaired. These may include items like:

  • Caulking of Bathrooms or Windows
  • Loose doorknobs
  • Burnt-out lights
  • Painting interiors or exteriors

The inspection should take several hours to complete according to this guide.

Time to Negotiate a New Buy Price

Remember the seller isn’t going to point out all the items that need to be repaired or replaced. The only person that will be able to discern what needs to be fixed and replaced will be the buyer. And this can only be accomplished by employing the services of a home inspector.

After the inspection report has been delivered, the buyer has a few different options. Proceed, ask for certain repairs, or back out of the purchase entirely. Remember that if you choose to forgo the inspection process, you won’t have this option. This is probably one of the most important reasons to go ahead with that home inspection.

At this time the buyer can request that certain repairs be made. The homeowner may choose not to. But they can offer to lower their selling price as a means of negotiation. If a buyer has gone this far in the process, chances are they won’t be scared off, but they probably won’t roll over and accept the house as-is. Further negotiations may be needed.

Wrapping it Up

As a potential individual in the market can see, a home inspection really is vital. Without one, it maybe be compared to potentially shooting yourself in the foot.

It’s possible too that a home inspector may actually miss something important. That’s why when you consider hiring an inspector, you interview 2 or 3, and have a list of thorough questions that you want to be answered. Here are some questions that you might want to consider.

What certifications do you hold?

What if you miss something during the inspection process?

Can you provide 2 references we can contact?

Can you offer an inspection report of a previous home so I can review?

How long does the inspection take and more importantly, what are your fees?

Read more: 4 Reasons Why A Home Inspection Is Necessary

What is the Purpose of a Home Inspection? Here’s a Complete Analysis was last modified: October 6th, 2019 by Andrew Reichek
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