Home inspection 101

During the home purchase process, your new home will likely go through a thorough visual inspection by a trained home inspector.  The purpose of this inspection is not to determine the home’s value, but rather to evaluate the condition of the home.  Your inspector will focus on your new home’s structure and mechanical systems (HVAC, electrical, plumbing). It is very important to read the inspection report carefully so that you aren’t surprised if major repairs are needed.

While a home inspection is not a mandatory part of every home purchase, most experts believe that the cost of the home inspection is a good investment. As many experts put it:  spending hundreds on a home inspection can save you thousands in unexpected repairs.  The cost of a home inspection can vary depending on location, the size of the home, and the age of the home.  The cost also depends on the thoroughness of the inspection.  According to CostHelper.com, the cost of a home inspection ranges from $100 to $900. 

It may be possible to make the purchase of a new home contingent on the home inspection.  This would mean that if the inspection reveals significant problems, you may have a certain number of days to back out of the sale. This contingency would be part of the purchase contract and is something that a trusted real estate professional can help you understand in more detail.

It is likely that your inspection report will reveal some potential problems that are not significant enough to be deal-breakers.  In this case, you may be able to ask that repairs are made prior to closing on the home.  However, it is important to remember that:

  • No inspection report issue must be repaired that isn’t already identified in the purchase contract.
  • The only mandatory repairs are what the mortgage lender, appraisal company, or insurance company requires.
  • The rest is negotiated between the buyer and seller.  

When determining what issues are worth negotiating, is it important to understand that most issues found are typical for the neighborhood.  Home inspectors recommend that you focus on atypical issues.  For example, every homebuyer wants new appliances; however, most appliances are in serviceable condition for 10 to 15 years.  And once a stove or dishwasher does need replaced, it can be done affordably.  On the other hand, it can be very expensive to mitigate mold or replace old plumbing.

To help you choose the most qualified individual to conduct your inspection, HUD offers this list of 10 questions you should ask your home inspector.  You can find a list of home inspectors on the National Association of Home Inspectors’ website

Money Management International (MMI), a HUD-certified housing counseling agency, is celebrating National Homeownership Month throughout June by providing potential and existing homeowners with valuable tips and tools.

Kim McGrigg is the former Manager of Community and Media Relations for MMI.