Top Home Inspection Tips: What to Watch Out For

Top Home Inspection Tips: What to Watch Out For

While it’s common for a home inspector to find minor issues, there are eight issues to look out for to proceed with caution or scrap the home altogether. Before you buy, inspect it thoroughly for the following warning signs to know if you should cancel the deal.


Many homes built before July 1989 may contain this hazardous material. If asbestos is present, it must be removed and properly disposed of by a professional. If so, you’ll need to consider this expensive job before bidding on the house.

Electrical or plumbing problems

Many electrical and plumbing problems are small and inexpensive to fix. Some people try to save money by doing projects on their own or by hiring a hobbyist. If previous owners skimped on wiring or plumbing, consider repair costs when deciding whether to buy the house.

Top Home Inspection Tips: What to Watch Out For

Foundation problems

Not all tiny cracks warrant backing out of the operation. Regarding foundation problems, the main goal is to determine the causes of the cracks. Are they due solely to the minimal settlement of the structure? Or is it a more severe problem, like large tree roots or poor soil conditions? Once you’ve found the cause of the cracks, you’ll be better able to assess whether you’re willing to move forward.

Lead paint

In addition to asbestos, older homes may also have lead paint. This could be a deal breaker, especially for families with small children. Lead paint is hazardous when consumed, and disposal can be expensive.


Not all mold problems are the same. If mold is found in the bathroom, it can be fixed simply by installing an exhaust fan and shouldn’t be a big concern. However, if the mold results from a leak in the roof or damage caused by the irrigation system or plumbing, we recommend that you find out the repair cost before proceeding.

Old ceiling

A home inspector will be able to help you determine if the roof problems are minor or if there is damage under the roof. Remember that replacing the roof is one of the most expensive residential repairs and can cost thousands of dollars.


From wood-eating insects like termites to roaches, mice, and burrowing rats, pests can damage a home’s structure in many ways. However, not all pest problems are equally severe. If in doubt, call a pest control company for a quote before you finalize your home purchase.

Water damage

Make sure they can explain the reasons for any water damage you discover. This should be a warning sign and help determine if you should terminate the trade.

The information obtained from the home inspection can be used to negotiate with the seller. If the home has significant problems, you can ask the seller to make the necessary repairs or reduce the property’s price. This will give you extra money to do the repairs yourself.

Home Inspection: What is included and what is not?

It is essential to have a home inspection before you sign the papers on a new home.

Things to know before a home inspection

Buying and selling a home can be an up-and-down, stressful, and rewarding process—including an inspection. Home inspections offer the opportunity to obtain an impartial, outside professional opinion that provides an in-depth understanding of a home’s condition. Here are answers to common questions about the home inspection process, so you know what to expect.

Do you need a home inspection?

While home inspections are generally recommended when buying or selling a home, they are not required unless there is an inspection contingency in the purchase contract. The terms of some mortgages may also require you to obtain an inspection. A home inspection differs from a home appraisal, which is almost always required.

If you waive an inspection as a buyer, any problems arising after the sale are generally your responsibility.

Why should I schedule a home inspection?

A home inspector is a trained professional who visually inspects the structure and components of a home and looks for any immediate or potential problems. She provides you with a written report describing problem areas and may include recommendations for future evaluation. You can review the home inspection report with your real estate broker to decide how the results might affect your potential home purchase. Unless otherwise arranged, the buyer is responsible for finding and scheduling an appointment with an inspector. Costs vary but are generally between $300 and $500.

What does a home inspection include?

Home inspection requirements vary significantly from state to state, and these standards of practice describe the minimum and uniform standards that should be expected from an inspection. Some of the areas inspected are:

  • Structural Elements: Construction of visible foundations, evidence of subsidence or tilt of the structure, floors and floor frames, walls, ceilings, stairs, drainage systems, and window alignment.
  • Security: Operation of fire and carbon monoxide alarms, fire sprinklers, condition of stairs, handrails and railings, and garage door openers.
  • Grounds: Septic tank leaks, proper drainage, and condition of the home driveway, fences, and sidewalks.
  • Roof: Condition of shingles, any repairs/patches to flat roofs, vents cleaned, damage to chimneys and gutters working correctly.
  • Exterior Surfaces: Adequate clearance between the flooring and wall siding material, exterior paint or siding condition, and lights and electrical outlets working correctly.
  • Attic: Sufficient insulation, proper ventilation, and any signs of leaks or water damage.
  • Indoor plumbing: No leaking or damaged pipes, proper hot water temperature, working toilets, sinks, bathtubs, and showers.
  • Electrical system: Condition and type of visible wiring by standards and proper operation of the fuse box, sockets, lamps, and fans.
  • Appliances: Properly operate built-in and free-standing appliances (range, dishwasher, refrigerator, microwave, washer and dryer, and all other appliances).
  • Heating and cooling systems: Condition of the boiler, air conditioning (if the temperature allows), water heater, and fireplace.
  • Basement: Solid foundation, walls, and floors with no signs of leaks or water damage.
  • Garage: Solid foundation, windows, ceiling, frame, and roof; working garage door opener; electrical system according to standards; and proper functioning of outlets.
  • Insulation and ventilation: Insulation in areas of attics and unfinished foundations, kitchen, bathroom, laundry ventilation systems, and presence of fans.

What they don’t inspect

Again, while there is variation in what inspectors review, there are areas that are not typically covered by a home inspection. If you suspect any problems or issues in the following areas, you may want to schedule an evaluation by a certified specialist. Here are some of the things they don’t usually inspect:

  • pest control
  • Swimming pools
  • asbestos
  • radon gas
  • Ventilation system with the property’s appliances
  • Indoor air quality
  • lead paint
  • toxic mold

How to find a home inspector

Make sure you are comfortable with the home inspector you choose. They are essential and can help you detect and avoid severe difficulties in the home-buying process.

  • Talk to your real estate professional. They could refer you to a home inspector that they trust and have worked with in the past.
  • Ask friends and family. If you know of someone who recently went through the home-buying process, they might have a good recommendation.
  • Look for reputable affiliations. Clients should seek an inspector affiliated with groups such as the National Institute of Building Inspectors, the American Society of Home Inspectors, and the International Society of Certified Home Inspectors. These are some of the most reputable inspector associations, and their websites have a “find an inspector” service to locate a member in your area.

Buyer Home Inspection Checklist

There are many steps in the home-buying process, but few are as impactful as the home inspection.

When you make an offer on the house, you may know everything there is to know about the property. However, a professional home inspection can offer much-needed peace of mind to homebuyers by allowing them to spot any potential problems before closing on the home purchase. Read on to learn more about home inspections and how to prepare for them with our home inspection checklist!

What is a home inspection?

A home inspection is a non-intrusive visual examination of a home’s physical structure and systems. If an inspection uncovers problems, you can negotiate with the seller to reduce the price of the home or arrange for repairs before closing. You can even decide to cancel the sale if there is a big problem with the house and you cannot negotiate a lower purchase price or reach an agreement with the seller.

A home inspection is different from a home appraisal. An appraisal is an estimate of how much your property is worth. Mortgage lenders use appraisals to ensure the home is worth the loan amount. An appraiser does not review detailed home information but instead checks local property values ​​and the home’s overall condition.

The home inspection is done right after the seller accepts an offer from the buyer. After both parties sign a purchase agreement, the house goes into escrow for home insurance and taxes. This process occurs before or at the same time as the appraisal.

How much does a home inspection cost?

It is important to note that the homebuyer is often responsible for paying for the inspection because it protects you from buying a home with significant problems. The average cost of a home inspection can range from $300 to $450 but varies based on several factors, such as location, age, and size of the home.

The Home Inspection Process: What Buyers Need to Know

There is more to the home inspection process than what happens on the inspection day. As a buyer, there are specific steps you can take before and after the inspection to make sure you have the information you need about the home you’re buying. 

The home inspection contingency

A home inspection contingency is a clause added to a real estate contract that states that the purchase is contingent on the home inspection results. This allows homebuyers to cancel the sale or negotiate repairs based on the inspection results. 

If you decide to add a home inspection contingency, you will have a specific time frame to schedule and do the inspection, and any potential follow-up evaluations. For example, suppose there is a plumbing problem, and the inspector recommends seeing a plumber for further review. In that case, the buyer is responsible for finding a plumber and getting the information he needs to go ahead or back out of the sale before the period. Buyers typically have 1-2 weeks to complete this process.

If the report includes any deciding factors, the home inspection contingency allows buyers to back out of the sale and get their deposit back, making it one of the best ways to protect yourself against unexpected costs after your move-in.

The Home Inspector

Choosing an inspector can seem daunting, but most real estate agents have relationships with certified home inspectors and can recommend one they trust. You’ll want to ensure the person has a bond and that the company only does inspections rather than repairs and renovations. This will help make sure they don’t try to force you to do expensive repairs for their benefit.

When you call to make an appointment, you should ask what the inspection includes and how long it takes; ensure you understand everything they will inspect. This is also the right time to discuss what other inspections you may need and ask if they can do all of them. They must also agree on a price.

Home Inspection Day

Your home inspector is the expert, but there are still things you can do as a buyer to ensure the process goes smoothly. We recommend that homebuyers attend their home inspection so they can see the damage firsthand and ask questions. You are having these conversations with the inspector in real-time results in more detailed information about your home than what you will find in the inspection report.

As you walk through the house, try not to dwell on the number of defects, as these repairs are often minimal. Instead, dig into the severity of the issues to determine if any deal-breakers are preventing you from moving forward with the sale.

The home inspection report

After the home inspection, you will receive a written report covering the property’s main features and pointing out any issues that may need attention.

A good inspector will take the time to review the report and its results with you. This can include any damage or wear and tear found in the house, no matter how minor. It’s their job to take note of every failure, so chances are your report will mention many problems. This does not mean everything is something to worry about: they can help you discern what could be dangerous or a warning sign.

Ask for repairs or a discount.

If your home inspection report contains significant damage, you can ask the seller to cover the cost of repairs or negotiate a discount on the purchase price.

Although you can’t expect the seller to fix every defect in the home, you can use the information from the inspection report to show what other expenses you would incur for necessary repairs. A good rule of thumb is negotiating only the cost of significant repairs. The buyer will likely be responsible for that repair if it can be described as normal wear and tear.

If you are comfortable paying for the repairs, you can also negotiate a reduction in the sales price based on the cost of the repairs.

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Home Inspection Checklist: What to Look For

After researching and examining your options, you should have a professional home inspector you can trust who knows what to look for in every part of your home. However, understanding what the inspector is looking for can help you ask questions to understand the extent of the damage better. This checklist comprehensively summarizes what to look for in a home inspection. 

Terrain and exterior structure

  • The foundations are in good condition with no significant cracks.
  • There is no evidence of a leak in the septic tank.
  • Drain away from the house without standing water.
  • Spaces with easy access to reach the plumbing.
  • The exterior walls look straight without sagging.
  • Windows and door frames look square.
  • The siding appears to be in good condition with no cracks or damage.
  • The bricks appear intact, with no cracks at the joints.
  • The paint is not peeling or stained.
  • There are no missing or damaged roof tiles.
  • The gutters show no deterioration and drain properly.
  • Chimneys look straight and undamaged.
  • The detached garage, shed, fence, and deck appears in good condition, with no wood rot or evidence of termites.


  • No evidence of moisture.
  • There is no evidence of water damage upstairs.
  • The sump pump is working correctly.


  • There is no evidence of stains on the ceiling.
  • The structure shows no damage or deterioration.
  • Adequate ventilation through soffit vents and end louvers.
  • The insulation is sufficient and correctly installed.
  • Electrical splices are contained.


  • Visible plumbing under the sink is in good condition with no signs of water damage.
  • Adequate water pressure for hot and cold water on all fixtures.
  • The tub, shower, and sinks all drain without a problem.
  • The toilet flushes and fills appropriately.
  • The toilet is stable, does not rock, and has no stains on the base.
  • There is no evidence of a leak around the base of the tub or the struggle.


  • Visible plumbing under the sink is in good condition with no signs of water damage.
  • The exhaust fan air vents work to the outside.
  • A garbage disposal works fine.
  • The water flow to the sink is adequate and drains properly.
  • The integrated appliances work correctly.

interior rooms

  • Floors, walls, and ceilings appear straight and level with no visible stains, cracks, or damage.
  • The doors open quickly and lock properly when closed.
  • The lights and switches work properly.
  • An adequate number of electrical outlets in each room.
  • Air conditioning and heating outlets in all rooms.
  • The chimney has no cracks and shows no stains.
  • The chimney flue has been cleaned and has a coating.
  • Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working and properly located.
  • The stair treads and risers are solid.

Electric systems

  • The wiring is in good condition.
  • The service panel is at average capacity with the cables connected correctly.
  • The cables are secured and protected.
  • No exposed electrical splices.

cooling and heating system

  • No gas smell.
  • Air conditioning and heating work well.
  • The air filters are clean.
  • The flues do not have open joints and decrease the passage until the chimney is connected.
  • The refrigeration unit has no visible rust.

Pipes, pipes, plumbing

  • Visible pipes have no damage or evidence of leaks.
  • The water heater shows no signs of rust.
  • The water pressure falls into the accepted range.
  • Hot water temperature does not exceed 125 degrees Fahrenheit.

Home Inspection Report vs. Seller Disclosure Statement

A home inspection report is a document in which an inspector records the condition of the seller’s home and cites any problems found in his inspection, such as foundations or safety issues that the buyer should be aware of. By contrast, a seller’s disclosure statement is a document that sets forth any undisclosed details or problems with the home that are known to the seller and would not otherwise be apparent. The requirements for this declaration depend on local, state, or federal laws.

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Top Home Inspection Tips: What to Watch Out For

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