Your Complete Guide To Home Inspections: How To Spot Issues & Address Them Before Purchasing A Home

You think you’ve found the perfect home, maybe you’ve even done a second showing with your agent. In your eyes, this home is perfect!

But with homes, many things that you may not notice at first glance (or even second & third) may be lurking underneath the surface. These problems could be minor or they could be major issues that cost you thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars after moving into the home.

Home inspections allow buyers to get into a home for an extended period of time, usually 3 – 4 hours and bring with them an “expert” to help them identify any current or future issues that may cost them money or keep them from fully enjoying the home.

We know that the whole idea of home inspections can be confusing though. Many buyers have a lot of questions when it comes to home inspections, like what should you look for, who should you hire, how long does an inspection take, how much do home inspections cost and many more.

Because of this, we’ve put together the most comprehensive guide to home inspections available. We’re answering all of your questions and showing you exactly what to look for and what to expect.


What Exactly Is A Home Inspection

A home inspection during the home buying process is an opportunity for a buyer to go through a home and inspect it, looking for any issues with the home that could have major implications down the road while taking note of any minor maintenance or potential maintenance issues.

If any major maintenance issues are found in the home that the buyer was previously unaware of, the inspection time period allows the buyer’s realtor to renegotiate with the seller based on the new information. It could mean a reduction in sale price or the buyer could request that the maintenance issues get resolved prior to the purchase have of the home.

At the Ryan and Kelly team, we typically suggest to our buyers that instead of requesting the seller to make repairs, they reduce the purchase price of the home to cover those repairs. The reason for this is simple. The seller is not thinking about long-term repair quality when selling, they are thinking about making repairs as cheaply as possible and moving on. Because of this, we often see low-quality materials and workmanship. If you want a quality repair, it is best to oversee it yourself.

The home inspection also allows the buyer a period of time to cancel the purchase of a home due to issues found during the inspection that were not known when the offer was made.

An example of this could be an issue with the foundation that could cost tens of thousands of dollars. A big issue like this may make it so a buyer is no longer interested in the home and wishes to cancel the purchase of the home.

What A Home Inspection Is Not

A home inspection is not meant to allow buyers to negotiate normal home maintenance issues.

An inspector may point out normal maintenance, but this is just meant to be helpful to the buyer and put it on their radar when they own the home.

Many buyers see this as a chance to bail on a purchase where they have cold feet or an opportunity to try to negotiate a better price with the seller. This, it is not.

Normal maintenance that regularly gets pointed out, but should not be a concern is: brush growing alongside a home, moisture on windows, dirty furnace filters, cracks in a concrete driveway and so on.

Finding The Right Home Inspector

Finding a good home inspector is a very important step that cannot be overlooked.

A poor home inspector could literally cost you thousands of dollars by missing issues with the home and not bring them to your attention during the negotiation process.

While an inspector cannot be held liable for missing any issues with a home, you want an inspection company that has a reputation of being thorough and reliable.

Sadly, many states do not require any kind of licensing to become a home inspector. This means that literally anyone can call themselves a home inspector and inspect your home, even with no previous home experience or knowledge.

Qualifying Your Home Inspector

Take the time to properly qualify any home inspector that you are thinking of hiring.

Start by asking your realtor for recommendations. Kelly and I have placed our recommended home inspectors at the end of this section.

Second, check out the online reviews of the inspection company.

Third, call any references. If they don’t have any, move on.

Last, talk to the home inspector, do they sound knowledgible? I would also suggest asking them if they recommend the buyer to come to the inspection and walk through the entire inspection with the inspector. If they do, good. If not, move on.

What you shouldn’t base your decision on: Price!

How Much Does A Home Inspection Cost?

Far less than not getting a home inspection.

Sorry, I had to say that.

In all honesty, getting a home inspection is all about protecting yourself from future unforeseen costs. You don’t want huge home maintenance costs sneaking up on you during the first couple of years of home ownership.

White that being said, a typical home inspection will cost you between $350 and $500.

If you want a radon test (which you should), that will cost you extra, as will a specific furnace, roof or foundation inspection.

In my personal and professional opinion, you want to know everything possible about the home that you are about to spend hundreds of thousands on and pay off for the next 30 years. Pay for any inspection you feel necessary.

Ryan And Kelly’s Personally Recommended Home Inspectors in Minnesota

When To Schedule A Home Inspection

A home inspection should be scheduled immediately after your offer on a new home has been accepted in writing.

It is in your and the sellers best interest to have the home inspection scheduled, completed and negotiated as soon as possible after the offer has been accepted.

If anything does come up, this allows both parties plenty of time to negotiate, the seller ample time to fix any maintenance issues that the buyer requests, or even gives the seller time to put their home back on the market if the buyer chooses not to purchase the home after the inspection.

What To Expect During A Home Inspection

A home inspection will typically be scheduled for 3-4 hours. Any less time is simply not adequate to truly inspect a property.

During the inspection, the seller will be asked to not be present so that the inspector has uninterrupted access to the home.

Before the inspection begins, make sure to write down any questions or concerns about the home that you already have. Present these to the inspector when you first meet him/her so that they have a chance to address your concerns during the inspection.

While an inspector may not require you to be present during their inspection, it is always a good idea to be present during the inspection and be interactive with the inspector. This will allow you to see the condition of the home firsthand and have a better understanding of the final report once the inspection is complete. This also allows the inspector to explain items that may seem like a big deal on their report and let you know if they are truly minor or major.

This is also a great time to really learn about how your home works and how to properly maintain a home. Most inspectors are real experts when it comes to homes and are happy to walk you through the inspection and teach you a thing or two.

Once completed, your inspector should present you with a written inspection report detailing all of their findings during the inspection. This report should make it clear if items are typical maintenance or if they are big issues that should be immediately addressed.

It is always a good idea to go through your home inspection with your realtor once you have received it from your home inspector. Your realtor will be able to tell you what items are negotiable and what items are considered normal for a home.

For example, buyers tend to believe that home inspectors have only done their job well if they find a ton of issues with a home (not true, but this is the perception), for this reason, home inspectors will point out many every-day maintenance items in a house, many that have no real effect on the quality, safety or value of a home, but because of this, buyers have a tendency to get anxious after going through the report. This is where a good realtor can come in and talk you through the inspection item by item.

If you and your realtor are unable to decipher issues on your inspection report, a good inspection company should be happy to answer any of your questions with a quick phone call.

Home Inspection Q & A

  • How Long Do Home Inspections Take?
    • Typically three to four hours for a standard inspection. Add on a radon test or mold test and that time will go up another hour or so.
  • How Much Do Home Inspections Cost?
    • A typical home inspection will cost you between $250 – $600 with specialized inspections being extra.
  • Do I Need To Be Present During The Inspection?
    • No, but it is highly recommended so that you thoroughly understand the condition of your home.
  • Do Inspectors Warranty Their Work?
    • No. Inspectors are not liable for anything in your home nor is there anything to warrant. Inspectors are they to give you their opinion on the condition of the home you plan on purchasing so that you can make a well-informed decision.
  • Do I Need An Inspection Of A New Construction Home?
    • You never NEED an inspection, but it is highly recommended that you get one, even on new construction.
  • Do Inspectors Include The Cost of Repairs?
    • No. An inspector will not give you an estimate on the cost of repairs. But home advisor has a great resource to give you a starting point on how much your home project will cost:
  • Can I Get A Home Inspection In Winter Even With Snow?
    • Yes. While snow may hurt an inspectors ability to properly inspect a roof, they should still make every effort possible.

Final Tips For Your Home Inspection

Remember, you’re about to make a huge investment of potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars and your home inspector just did a general home inspection.

If your inspector found a potential issue with the furnace, roof, foundation or any other major component, then spending a couple hundred extra dollars to have a furnace expert (or another expert) come and do a specific furnace inspection is a good idea and a great use of your money. Remember, a new furnace can cost anywhere from $4,000 – $10,000 and many other repairs can be even more costly.

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