Home Inspector Helping a first-time homebuyer select a home inspector.

Home Inspector
A home inspector is a key member of your homebuying team. They are responsible for providing you a complete assessment of the home's condition before you buy it. They will inspect the house from top to bottom including all the major systems. Shortly after they complete the inspection they will provide you a detailed written report about the current condition of the home. It is a great idea to tag along during the inspection so you can see first hand the condition of the home and learn all about the home you are intending to buy. Depending on what your learn from the report, you may need it to negotiate repairs with the seller or to back out of the sale agreement altogether if you determine the property is not in acceptable condition.

Finding a Good Home Inspector
Your real estate agent, loan officer and homebuyer education provider can provide you reccommendations for good home inspectors. Prior to picking a home inspector, you need to make sure they are licensed with the state.   Different states have different licensing requirements. Clearly you will want to hire only home inspectors that meet your state's licensing requirements.

Another stamp of approval to look for is whether or not the home inspector is a member of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). ASHI Home inspectors have adopted professional standards and a code of conduct which set them apart from other home inspectors. You should also look for home inspectors that are members of their state chapter of home inspectors.

Role of the Home Inspector
The home inspector will carefully examine all parts and major systems in the house that they can visibly observe without causing any damage. For this reason they are not going to be able to inspect elements of the house that are not accessible. For example, they will not pull back insulation or siding to see inside a wall or other hiden components. They are very good though at observing and noting any visible signs of damage to the house without needing to tear it apart.

It is advised that you make sure your home inspection includes a Pest and Dry Rot inspection. A Pest and Dry Rot report is usually a part of a full home inspection, but double check to make sure. A Pest and Dry Rot inspection involves a careful examination of the home to check it for wood-destroying insects and any structural deterioration. Many special first-time homebuyer loan and grant programs require that you obtain and provide a clean Pest and Dry Rot inspection in order to receive funding.

Hiring a Home Inspector
Once you have selected a home inspector, schedule the appointment with them right away and plan on attending the inspection. Remember your sales contract probably states that you must have the home inspection done within the first 7 to 10 days after your offer is accepted, so you probably do not have much time before you need to get the home inspection completed.

The cost of a home inspection is typically between $300 to $450. While the cost is not refundable, it is money well spent even if you end up backing out of the sale. It is better to spend a few hundred dollars on a home inspection, then to buy the house and find you have thousands of dollars of unexpected repairs after you own the home.

Other Inspections
You should also consider getting additional inspections depending on the age, quality, and location of the home.   Additional inspections you should consider are:

  • Sewer Scope (if you have concerns about the age or quality of the sewer line)
  • Radon Testing (if Radon is common in your area)
  • Underground Oil Tank (if the home may have an underground oil tank)

While these inspections each cost a few hundered dollars more, it is much better to get them before you buy the home, then to find out after you buy the home and are stuck with repair and clean up bills.