How much does a home inspection cost?

A home inspection—during which an inspector evaluates the condition of a property for sale—is a common part of the homebuying process. It may help homebuyers avoid unexpected repairs and renegotiate the home’s price.

The cost of a home inspection depends on factors like the home’s size and location, the inspector’s level of experience and more. Learn more about the details of a home inspection in this guide.

Key takeaways

  • Home inspection costs can vary by factors like the location, size and age of the home.
  • Depending on what the inspector finds, prospective homebuyers may be able to ask for repairs or renegotiate the cost of their home.
  • Home inspections can save homeowners money in the long run by turning up repairs that would be costly down the line.

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Why get a home inspection?

A professional home inspection is a key part of the homebuying process. If an inspection reveals structural issues or hidden damages, it might save the homebuyer from expensive repairs in the long run.

Buyers will often include in their contract a home inspection contingency that gives them time to have the home inspected before closing. In a competitive seller’s market, buyers may be tempted to waive inspections. Once the inspection’s done, prospective homebuyers can opt out of the sale or renegotiate the price based on the inspection results.

Average home inspection cost

According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the average home inspection cost is between $300 and $500. But the cost varies based on factors like the home’s location, square footage and age. For instance, the cost of a home inspection for an older 3,500-square-foot house is likely to be more than that of a newer, smaller condo.

Home inspectors will sometimes charge extra if they have to travel a long way to inspect the home. Experienced inspectors may also charge more than those with less experience.

Who pays for a home inspection?

Typically, the homebuyer pays for the inspection. If the house needs repairs, the buyer and seller can discuss when the repairs will be made and who will foot the bill. Any negotiation after the inspection takes place is considered a counteroffer, which is covered by the inspection contingency in the contract.

How long do home inspections take?

The length of a home inspection can depend on the size and type of the home. A large home with multiple bedrooms usually takes more time to inspect than a small mobile home. The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) estimates that inspections take two to four hours on average.

How to find a home inspector

Sometimes, realtors will recommend a home inspector in the area, but homebuyers can also find their own. When looking for an inspector, buyers may want to consider those who hold certifications or belong to an industry group like ASHI, the National Association of Certified Home Inspectors or the National Association of Home Inspectors.

What do home inspectors look for?

Home inspectors look for a variety of potential issues in the home. In addition to inspecting for structural problems, inspectors will typically check the major systems like heating, electrical and plumbing. The inspection’s findings are then written up in a home inspection report. Inspectors are ethically obligated to report all findings, however minor. For a complete picture of a home inspection, check out ASHI’s standard of practice.

Here are some categories a home inspection covers:

Structural issues

The inspector will check the structural components of the house, including the framing, foundation, floors, walls, ceilings and roof. The inspector may look at crawl spaces as well, but they’re not required to enter areas with an entrance smaller than 16 by 24 inches.

Exterior

The inspector should assess the exterior of the home, including wall coverings, flashing, trim and exterior doors. They will also check decks, balconies, porches and similar structures. They won’t check recreational facilities or test the soil. They also won’t check any outdoor buildings other than garages and carports.

Roof system

A home inspection should include an inspection of the roof system, including materials, drainage system, flashing, skylights and chimneys. The inspector isn’t required to inspect any chimneys that aren’t readily accessible, and the inspection won’t cover antennas or other accessories.

Interior

The interior inspection includes walls, ceilings, floors, stairs, railings and more. Inspections may cover doors, windows and installed cabinets, as well as an assortment of installed appliances. The interior inspection may not include paint, wallpaper, floor coverings or other finish treatments.

Fireplace and fuel-burning appliances

A home inspection should include fireplaces, stoves and inserts, as well as fuel-burning accessories that are installed in fireplaces. The inspection should also cover chimneys and vent systems. The inspector isn’t required to inspect fire screens and doors or the fireplace’s surroundings.

HVAC systems

HVAC refers to heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. The home inspector will assess permanently installed air conditioning; insulation and ventilation from the attic, kitchen, bathroom and laundry systems; and heating equipment, vent systems, flues and chimneys. Inspectors aren’t required to move or disturb insulation for the inspection.

Electrical systems

The inspector should inspect electrical components like service panels, service grounding and conductors. The inspector isn’t required to check fire alarms, remote control devices or any renewable energy systems.

Plumbing systems

Home inspectors will inspect water supply and distribution systems and interior drain and waste systems. They’ll also locate the main water shut-off valve. They’re not required to inspect clothes washing machines or septic and sewage systems.

Additional inspections

There are categories outside of the standard home inspection that buyers can choose to add on. Like standard inspections, the price of these additional inspections varies depending on location and provider. But depending on the situation, these inspections could be worthwhile:

  • Termites
  • Asbestos
  • Septic
  • Mold testing
  • Radon
  • Lead

Home inspections vs. home appraisals

Home inspections aren’t the same as home appraisals. Home inspections are meant to uncover structural issues and determine the long-term safety of the home. On the other hand, home appraisals are often conducted by a mortgage lender to assess the fair market value of a home.

Home inspection costs in a nutshell

Home inspections can help uncover potentially expensive issues before a potential homebuyer agrees on a price. The cost and time spent on a home inspection can depend on things like the location, size and age of the house.

The homebuying process might start with deciding how much house you can afford. Once you’ve found a few properties you’re interested in, you can learn more about what questions to ask when buying a house.

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