A home inspection is a visual exam of the structure and systems of a house. It details problems with the property and if they’re serious enough to prevent a sale. The three main points of an inspection are physical condition, safety issues and items in need of repair or replacement, and the remaining useful life of major systems.
A report won’t cover defects that are not visible, inoperable systems (e.g., A/C during the winter), or code violations. This inspection is for a good picture in time of the condition of the home you hope to purchase.
It’s a good idea to be present during the inspection: you can ask the inspector questions, and the inspector can point out areas of potential trouble and may offer maintenance tips.
Expect an inspection to take 2-5 hours (old homes may take longer), and expect charges of $200-$500 depending on size. Add a septic inspection, Well water tests and radon air...and you inspections can run well over $1000.
These dollars spent are well worth the initial investment to understand how to negotiate in the transaction and how to maintain your new home in the future. The inspection could be the reason you walk away from the home before taking on a 30 year mortgage.
To hire an inspector, get recommendations from your Realtor or from others who have used them, or check the phone book under “Home Inspection.” Be sure to ask about references, memberships in professional associations, professional training, and experience.