What Is a Home Inspector and When You Might Need One

What Is a Home Inspector and When You Might Need One

Appraisal and Home Inspection
By Contractors.com Team May 07, 2021

Before you put up the FOR SALE sign on your front lawn, register your home in an online marketplace, or even determine its value, it is always a good idea to know the strengths and weaknesses of your property. Even the most expensive mansions are going to have a few small vulnerabilities that risk significantly lowering property value or in the worst cases, becoming a safety hazard.

This is where home inspectors come to the rescue. There are a lot of steps to buying or selling property and a home inspection is among the most crucial to a successful purchase or sale. When you need an experienced set of eyes to tell you what areas of your property need strengthening or what you risk by ignoring said problems, home inspectors are the ones with all the answers.

What Is a Home Inspector?

What Do Home Inspectors Inspect?

What Do Home Inspectors Inspect?

Home inspectors are specialists who are trained in analyzing various aspects of a property such as the foundation, plumbing, electrical systems, landscape, and more. They look through every detail of your property and give you an analysis report based on their findings. They’re the ones who will tell you if there are any vulnerable areas in your home and if there is a possibility they may lower the property value. 

In order to receive their home inspector certification prospective inspectors are required to go through training and education. This can be done through online academies like the American Home Inspectors Training (AHIT), the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI), and the Inspection Certification Associates (ICA) home inspection school. While there is no federal standard to home inspection training and education, each state dictates its own minimum number of required hours to receive a home inspector license

However, don’t confuse home inspectors with home appraisers. As their names suggest, home inspectors are there to perform an inspection of the property and inform you of any problems. Home appraisers are the ones who are going to calculate the price. You definitely won’t get the services you were hoping for by hiring an appraiser to do your home inspection. Both of them require a lot of attention to detail, but within different contexts.

What Does a Home Inspector Do?

What Should You Get Inspected In Your House?

What Should You Get Inspected In Your House?

Home inspections are like regular doctor check-ups. We’re not necessarily expecting to hear something scary, but we go just to be sure there is nothing we should be worried about.  Home inspectors don’t always point out leaky pipes or faulty electrical wiring, as the homeowner may already be aware of these things. They instead inform you about precursors to potential problems. For example, unless you have the trained vision and senses of home inspectors, it’s really hard to tell if your property’s foundation is at risk of sinking.

The term “inspection” is quite broad, so you may be asking yourself, “what does a home inspection cover?” Most professional inspections offer the following services:

  • Structural integrity and foundation inspection
  • Flooring, walls, ceilings
  • Doors and windows
  • Safety hazards
  • Roof and attic
  • Exterior surfaces (paint, sidings, etc.)
  • Insulation
  • Heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC)
  • Electrical and plumbing systems
  • Landscape 

Other services may include (though are not always performed during home inspections)
radon testing, pest control, finding mold and other corrosives, etc. To be on the safe side, consider hiring a specialized mold inspector or pest control worker to handle these specific tasks.

The entire inspection process will take around three to four hours, depending on the size of your property. You can expect to have the report a day or two after the inspection. It will come with plenty of details on your property’s structural integrity, the condition of systems like electrical and plumbing, as well as plenty of photographic evidence showing any problems. 

When Might You Need a Home Inspector?

When Should You Get a Home Inspection?

When Should You Get a Home Inspection?

Regular home inspections help identify the aspects of your home which are vulnerable or need maintenance, renovation, or replacing. You most likely won’t need home inspections as often as medical check ups, but it’s still advisable to have them once every three to 5 years. This allows you to catch any safety hazards or dangers before they become a serious threat to the integrity of your house.

The bulk of home inspections are performed during real estate purchases. A home inspection can be beneficial to both a buyer and a seller. By most real estate standards, home inspections take place after the buyer and seller agree to the transaction. Sellers may get their home looked over before even putting the property on the market, as it will make the appraisal process easier and the conclusive property value more accurate. 

Buyers need a home inspection to give them a clear picture of what they are purchasing. With home inspections, they are able to avoid unpleasant surprises after the transaction, like a pipe bursting or the foundation sinking. As a buyer, it is advised to know all the details of your purchase, good and bad, before you can come to a decision.

How Much Does a Home Inspector Charge?

How Much Does a Home Inspector Charge?

How Much Does a Home Inspector Charge?

The home inspection cost will vary from state to state and business to business. In Los Angeles, the average price of home inspection services is around $300. This varies in different parts of the country. A quick Contractors.com search can give you a clearer idea of the prices in your local area.  However, you can expect most home inspectors to charge within the $300 to $500 margin.

Another determinant of the service charge is the size of your property. For example, most home inspections in California will fluctuate around the $300 or $400 mark for a 2000-square-foot home. So, if your property is much larger than that, expect the service cost to be doubled. 

Do keep in mind that home inspection companies have different pricing models, and the state-wide average doesn’t apply to every professional in the area. 

How Do They Fit Within the Larger Project?

The main advantage of having a home inspector in a larger project, like a major renovation or the construction of a new building, is that they make the process more full-proof. Once the renovation or construction is finished, it is very hard to go back and fix any issues that are buried deep within the structure. Nothing irks contractors and construction managers more than the thought of having to backtrack the building process because of one small problem. 

If, for example, an issue is discovered with the structural integrity of your home’s foundation after it’s already built, fixing it would require tearing down parts of walls and flooring just to find the problem and fix it. However, if a hired professional inspects the foundation as it’s being built and set regularly, you can catch this problem early on and fix it on the spot, without tearing anything down. This means less time and resources wasted during and after your construction or renovation project. You can breathe easy knowing that any and all problems were caught and fixed right on the spot. 

What Questions to Ask When Hiring a Home Inspector?

What Questions to Ask When Hiring a Home Inspector?

What Questions to Ask When Hiring a Home Inspector?

The questions you ask your home inspector will vary depending on the kind of project you’re working on, as well as what kind of property is being worked on. However, there are some general questions that you can always feel free to ask a home inspector.

  • What problems are there with the structure?
  • Which issues need to be addressed urgently?
  • What hazards are present?
  • Is this particular issue going to lower the property value?
  • Do I need to get expert help on this?
  • Do you know of any experts or specialists who can fix this problem?
  • What condition is the roof in?
  • How much does a home inspection cost?

It’s normal to have many more specific questions during your own inspection. These can point you in the general direction of the information you could use to then get into the gritty details.

How To Choose the Right Home Inspector?

How to Choose the Right Home Inspector?

How to Choose the Right Home Inspector?

Becoming a home inspector requires plenty of intensive training and education. Not everyone has the keen eye for detail that home inspection requires, which means that it’s not something that anyone can do. You can expect most home inspectors to be very knowledgeable about construction and home maintenance, as this is what helps them locate any and all problems in your home.

However, just because an inspector is trained and educated in the craft of home inspection doesn’t mean that they’re the right fit for you. Choosing the right home inspector mostly depends on getting the right recommendations. 

If you’re in the process of selling your home, speak with your real estate agent. They may know a reliable home inspector who has worked with their previous clients. This would be ideal, as your real estate broker knows your property better than anyone else. Their recommendation would be very close to, if not exactly, who you’re looking for. Alternatively, you can get recommendations from people you know who recently had their house inspected and see if they suggest.

Other Speciality Considerations

As mentioned above, there are certain services offered by some home inspectors that aren’t offered by others. Most home inspectors will be tasked with looking through your house, checking its structural integrity, finding any hazardous areas, and reporting back to you with their findings and what solutions they recommend. 

More specialized home inspector jobs, such as checking the chimney, septic tank, pool, landscaping features, and pest control, will require a specialist of their own. For example, if there is a big fireplace in your house that you’ve been using often, you should consider hiring a specialized chimney inspector. 

There are also different ranks within home inspection associations and societies and depending on which academy your inspector studied with, they will have different levels of qualification. Aside from these, there are also some state-required licenses that home inspectors need to have in order to perform inspections. 

As you can see, there are many layers to the craft of home inspection. Knowing which specialist to talk to and who to hire will significantly improve your chances of finding and fixing any problems in your home on time and effectively.

Written by
Contractors.com Team

Written by Contractors.com Team

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