Home Inspection 101

Here are the basics of hiring a home inspector, along with 12 things every good inspection should cover.

Here's a glance at how home inspections are supposed to work:

1. Every house should be inspected.
Otherwise, you’re relying on the seller to be honest enough to tell you every thing that’s wrong with the house. 

2. You hire the inspector, not your real estate agent.
You want him to work for you.

3. You can hire your own inspector. 
A real estate company often has a list of home inspectors from which you may choose. This does not mean you have to use one from the list. You can find lists of certified inspectors at the web sites of the two organizations that certify and train home inspectors: The National Association of Home Inspectors (NAHI) and the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI).

4. You will sign an agreement with the home inspector that outlines the scope of his work. The report you’ll get about the house’s condition after the inspection is for your eyes only and the inspector can only give it to the seller or real estate agent with your permission. 

5. A thorough inspection of a 2,000-square foot home should take 2 to 3 hours. A good inspector: 

  • walks on the roof
  • goes into the crawl space and attic 
  • removes the furnace and electrical panel covers to see what’s inside 
  • checks all electrical outlets and switches 
  • opens and closes all windows and doors 
  • examines the insides of closets and the undersides of stairs 
  • checks walls, ceilings and floors for defects 
  • checks water pressure and drain function in plumbing fixture 
  • flushes toilets to make sure they work
  • checks chimneys and flues to be sure they work
  • checks the exterior of the home for signs of weather damage, decay and settling
  • knows the soil and flooding problems in the area where you're buying

6. Once he’s finished with the inspection, the home inspector will go over the report with you, explain the defects he found and point out areas that may need maintenance in the near future.

7. You can ask the seller to correct the defects your inspector finds, or you can ask for money to make the repairs yourself.

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