September 12, 2023

12 Things to Know About the Home Inspection Process

12 Things to Know About the Home Inspection Process

Table Of Contents


Inspector leaving a property

Getting a home inspection is a critical part of any real estate transaction. An inspection conducted by a qualified professional will evaluate the overall condition of the home and identify any issues or defects. Here are 12 key things buyers and sellers should understand about home inspections.

Before the Inspection

Using a Licensed Inspector

When hiring a home inspector, verify they hold a current license in your state, which ensures they have the proper qualifications and training. There are many inspectors to choose from, so take the time to check credentials before selecting one.

Checking Inspector Qualifications

Look at credentials beyond basic licensing when choosing a home inspector, like additional certifications, years of experience in the field, expertise with your specific home type, and a track record of thorough, detailed inspections. Taking this extra step leads to more comprehensive inspection results.

Setting Expectations on Scope

Have an explicit conversation with your home inspector ahead of time to understand what will and won’t be covered in a standard inspection. While they will examine the home’s major systems, structure, and components, minor cosmetic issues or hidden underlying problems may not be included in their report. Setting expectations upfront prevents surprises.

What Gets Inspected

During a standard home inspection, the following areas are evaluated:

Structure and Foundation – Inspector looks for cracks or flaws in the foundation, exterior walls, roof, decks/porches, doors, and windows that could indicate stability or water infiltration issues. Checks for signs of pests, termites, or wood rot.

Roof and Attic – Inspects roof age, condition, and remaining life span. Checks for damaged shingles, improper drainage, sagging, and leaks. Examines insulation, ventilation, wiring, and appliances in attic.

Electrical, Plumbing, and HVAC – Checks functionality and safety of electrical outlets, wiring, breakers, and panels. Tests water pressure, pipes, drainage, water heater, and fixtures for leaks. Assesses furnace, ductwork, AC, and ventilation system.

Major Systems and Appliances – Turns on major appliances, garage door openers, irrigation systems, security systems, and tests operation. Checks for unusual vibrations, noises, or odors that could indicate issues.

Overall Condition and Safety – Checks ceilings, walls, and floors for signs of defects. Tests doors, windows, railings, stairs, and deck for proper function and condition. Looks for tripping hazards, unsafe conditions, or code violations.

What is Not Covered

Some common exclusions in a home inspection include:

Cosmetic Issues – Minor flaws like scratches, dents, carpet stains, faded paint or wallpaper, or landscaping problems are considered cosmetic and generally excluded.

Items Concealed or Inaccessible – Inspector cannot evaluate what is inside walls, under flooring, or behind appliances. Buried drainage pipes may also go unchecked.

Being Present for the Inspection

Follow Along and Ask Questions – It’s helpful for buyers to accompany the inspector to better understand the home’s systems. Ask questions as you go for greater insight.

Understand Your Home Better – Following the inspector provides an opportunity to learn about how the home’s electrical, plumbing, and appliances function. The insight helps you down the road.

The Inspection Report

After completing the onsite inspection, the inspector will provide a detailed report of their findings:

Review Findings Carefully – Read through the inspector’s report thoroughly looking for any red flags. Make note of major flaws that need repair.

Prioritize Issues and Costs – Determine the severity of each issue and get estimates on repair costs. This helps in determining which problems to address.

Use the Report in Negotiations – The inspection report gives objective data to negotiate what repairs the sellers should reasonably cover based on norms in your area.

Negotiating Repairs

There are a few approaches buyers can take in asking sellers to remedy inspection issues:

Common Approaches

There are three common approaches buyers take in requesting sellers rectify issues uncovered in a home inspection: asking the seller to complete repairs on their own before closing, requesting a credit at closing equal to the repairs costs that you can then make after taking ownership, or a reduction in the home purchase price equivalent to the repair costs.

Fair Expectations for Sellers

It’s reasonable to ask sellers to remedy minor wear-and-tear issues and neglected maintenance based on inspection findings. However, significant hidden underlying defects they were likely unaware of often result in pushback. Understand your rights under state disclosure laws, but have fair expectations of sellers during negotiations.

Re-inspection After Repairs

Once any negotiated repairs are completed, it’s wise to book a re-inspection before closing:

Verify Issues Were Addressed – You want to confirm repairs were properly completed and defects fully fixed, with no lingering problems.

Check New Problems Didn’t Arise – A re-inspection verifies no new issues like leaks or appliance failures popped up since the first inspection. This protects against surprises down the road.

Your Rights as a Buyer

If serious undisclosed defects are found, buyers have certain legal rights:

Disclosure Laws – Research your rights under your state’s property disclosure and consumer protection laws so you know what sellers are required to disclose about known defects and your options if undisclosed major issues are found later on after purchase. This prevents nasty surprises.

Legal Recourse Options – In cases where serious undisclosed defects are discovered that constitute misrepresentation by the seller, legal recourse like pursuing damages may be possible. If an inspection uncovers signs of fraud, consult a real estate attorney to determine remedies under local laws. Don’t let sellers off the hook.

Key Takeaways

Educate Yourself on the Process

Learn about what’s included (and excluded) in home inspections and how they fit into the home buying or selling process.

Hire a Highly Qualified Inspector

Don’t just go with the lowest bidder. Seek experienced, licensed inspectors with excellent reviews and expertise in your type of home.

Follow Up Diligently on Any Issues

Thoroughly review the inspection report, get contractor estimates, and negotiate repairs fairly. Verify all repairs before closing.


Can I back out of a deal based on the home inspection results?2023-11-10T17:11:01+00:00

Yes, buyers can usually back out of a deal if the inspection reveals major issues, especially if contingencies are in place.

Can I use the inspection report to negotiate a lower price?2023-11-10T17:10:41+00:00

Yes, buyers can use the inspection report as a negotiation tool, either to lower the purchase price or to request repairs.

How much does a home inspection cost?2023-11-10T17:11:20+00:00

Home inspection costs vary based on factors like location and property size. On average, expect to pay a few hundred to a thousand dollars.

Are sellers required to fix issues found during a home inspection?2023-11-10T17:09:06+00:00

Sellers are not obligated to make repairs, but negotiations can take place based on the inspection report. It depends on the terms agreed upon in the contract.

Can I attend the home inspection as a buyer?2023-11-10T17:08:45+00:00

Yes, buyers are encouraged to attend the inspection. It’s an opportunity to ask questions, gain insights, and understand the property’s condition firsthand.

How long does a home inspection usually take?2023-11-10T17:08:31+00:00

The duration of a home inspection varies but typically takes 2 to 4 hours, depending on the property’s size and complexity.

Why is a home inspection important when buying a property?2023-11-10T17:07:45+00:00

A home inspection provides a comprehensive evaluation of the property’s condition, helping buyers make informed decisions and uncover potential issues.

What causes a home not to pass inspection?2023-09-12T14:43:43+00:00

Major structural/foundation defects, extensive roof damage, faulty electrical or plumbing, HVAC/appliance issues, fire & safety hazards, outdated systems, or signs of extensive water damage/pests would likely cause a home to fail inspection.

How long does a home inspection take?2023-09-12T14:43:32+00:00

Usually 1-3 hours depending on the home’s size. The inspector will need access to the entire property during that time.

How much will a home inspection cost?2023-09-12T14:43:13+00:00

Cost ranges from $300-$500 depending on home size, location, scope of inspection, and additional tests. Larger homes with multiple systems cost more. Get quotes from a few inspectors.

Can I ask a seller to pay for unexpected repairs needed after closing?2023-09-12T14:42:56+00:00

Typically no, unless you can prove the seller hid a known defect. This is why a careful inspection before closing is critical.

What’s the difference between an inspection and an appraisal?2023-09-12T14:42:43+00:00

An inspection evaluates physical condition while an appraisal focuses on valuation. Inspections happen before closing while appraisals are for the lender to assess if home value supports the loan.

Should I be present for a home inspection?2023-09-12T14:42:31+00:00

Yes, it’s highly recommended that buyers attend the inspection. It’s an opportunity to learn about the home’s systems, ask questions, and gain insight that will be useful later on.

Meet Sarah Perrotti


Based in Litchfield County, Connecticut, Sarah is a distinguished full-time realtor specializing in luxury properties and concierge services tailored to discerning buyers and sellers.

With a Masters degree in Social Work, Sarah brings a unique perspective to real estate, ensuring confidentiality and seamless transactions.


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Meet Sarah Perrotti


Based in Litchfield County, Connecticut, Sarah is a distinguished full-time realtor specializing in luxury properties and concierge services tailored to discerning buyers and sellers.

With a Masters degree in Social Work, Sarah brings a unique perspective to real estate, ensuring confidentiality and seamless transactions.

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