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Getting ready to sell your home? Looking to buy? Before you do either, someone’s going to have to make sure the property in question is in good shape. This is the main purpose of home inspections.

What is a home inspection?

A home inspection is a safety and quality assessment on a property that is going to be sold. The inspector examines the structural aspects of the home, heating and cooling systems, plumbing, electrical work, water and sewage to ensure they are all functioning properly. The overall condition of the property is also assessed for fire and safety issues, damages and anything else that can affect its value.1

When should you get a home inspection?

Are you planning to buy or sell a house? Every buyer should know that the purchase they’re making is financially sound. Home inspections turn up safety issues and maintenance problems that could create serious trouble and expenses down the road. Inspections help everyone understand the condition of a property, and thus the risks that should be considered before proceeding in a transaction.

What does a home inspection cover?

Home inspections are a very important part of the home buying process. But what to do home inspectors look for? In short, just about everything that needs to work for a home to be livable. Here are some of the essentials:

  • Exterior – The inspector will check for cracks, missing siding or damage to the roof – anything that could lead to water damage or pest infiltration. This includes an examination of the foundation if it is visible.
  • Interior – Similar to the exterior, the inspector will look around for any signs of damage to walls, cabinets, windows, and other visible aspects of the home.
  • Plumbing – The plumbing inspection includes a check for visible leaks, functioning faucets, shower heads and toilets, and to ensure the exposed pipes are not damaged or dangerously outdated.
  • Electrical – The inspector will test all outlets and ensure there are working ground circuit interrupters, and examine the electrical panel for potential issues.
  • Air – This includes an inspection of your HVAC system and ducting to ensure furnace and air conditioner (if present) are both working.
  • Fire Safety – The inspector will identify any potential fire hazards and test the smoke detectors.2

If you’re getting ready to sell your home, learn how to prepare for a home inspection.

What are things that can fail a home inspection?

If a home inspection fails, that means the inspector has identified one or more serious problems with the home. Here are some fail-worthy issues:

  • Roof damage – This can range from a few missing shingles to widespread water damage.
  • Electrical problems – Any non-functioning electrical components or hazards such as frayed wires can merit a failure.
  • Plumbing problems – Leaks, non-functioning heaters and sewer issues can all cause an inspection to fail.
  • Pests – Damage from termites, vermin or other pests can mean a failed inspection.
  • Mold – This usually goes hand in hand with water damage, which can also be a cause of inspection failure.3

What happens if a house fails inspection?

If a home inspection finds serious issues, potential buyers have options.

  • Request a price decrease/credit on the purchase: A buyer may request a price decrease or a credit on the purchase. The intent of a price adjustment or credit would be to use the savings to address the issues found in the inspection.
  • Ask the seller to make repairs: A buyer might ask the owner to make repairs to fix any issues. Depending on the nature of the issue, a buyer may want to request professionals be contracted to make repairs.
  • Walk away from the purchase: Alternatively, a buyer may just decide to back out of the purchase following the failed inspection, figuring there are other homes on the market that are in much better shape.1

What are home inspectors not allowed to do?

The home inspector plays a crucial role in the purchasing process, but there are ways they can overstep their role. Home inspectors should not offer services outside of the inspection itself, personally see to the renovations or repairs on a home they’ve inspected, inflict any damage on the home, inspect specialized systems like pools or hot tubs, or test systems the seller has already indicated are not working. Offering advice or estimates related to issues they’ve found is also off the table. For example, if the inspector finds an electrical problem, they are not allowed to diagnose the cause of that problem. Generally speaking, the home inspector must provide only objective information about necessary components that are relevant to the inspection.4

How much does a home inspection cost?

Home inspections can vary in cost depending on what kind of home it is and where it’s located. On average, Americans spend between $275 and $400 on inspections. It is usually the buyer who schedules the inspection, so they will foot the bill for it most of the time. Most inspections only take a few hours. However, inspectors in areas with busy real estate markets may not be available until weeks down the line. Buyers should try to schedule their inspections as soon as possible.5

How to find a reputable home inspector

An experienced real estate agent will have worked with multiple home inspectors in the area and can usually recommend one they trust. When you find an inspector, make sure they have the proper certification.5

Once you’ve purchased a home, it’s important to protect your investment! Keep your home safe with home insurance from Nationwide. Get a quote today and learn how homeowners insurance can protect your home for the long run.

[1], Accessed April 2022.
[2], Accessed April 2022.
[3], Accessed April 2022.
[4], Accessed April 2022.
[5], Accessed April 2022.

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