Everything You Should Know About Home Inspections

The initial cost could save you money.

Construction concept , Foreman officer inspector defect about engineer&architect work home building before complete project
Getty ImagesJakraphong Pongpotganatam

So, you've found your dream home and are ready to sign on the dotted line? Pump the breaks! Though it may seem like the fastest route to getting everything you want, prematurely signing documents could also quickly become the cause of unnecessary headaches—and costs.

Before signing anything, knowing all of your options is a must, since the home-buying stakes are too high to gamble with, especially when it comes to having an inspection. Here are the answers to all of the questions and concerns you may have when considering hiring an inspector:

What Are The Rules?

Though inspections are optional, it is always a good idea to pay the money to have one done before buying a new home in order to prevent you from being blinded by extra costs and repairs after you've settled.

According to , exceptions to this rule arise if your home maintenance is covered by an association (i.e. condo life). But, either way you should always check with your bank to see if they require one. If you're going to have an inspection done, pick a date and time that fits with your schedule and attend it—ask your inspector all the questions.

Examining house
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How Much Does It Cost?

According to , the average home inspection in the United States costs about $326. While some can be as low as $200 or as high as $483, they typically range anywhere from approximately $278 to $389.

What Is Covered?

Typically inspectors will check the foundation and basement, interior plumbing and electrical systems, heating and cooling systems, windows, doors, floors, walls, ceilings, attic, and visible roofing/insulation, shares.

If you're looking for someone to check inside the walls, roof, chimney, septic tank, wells, sheds, or structures outside the main house, though, the site notes you may have to call other professionals. It's important that you ask your inspector what they cover before they do the inspection.

Where Do I Find An Inspector?

, CEO of and a Professional Engineer (P.E.), says you should always choose an inspector who is a Licensed P.E. as they have top credentials and can stamp your home inspection report with their Licensed P.E. seal—which is "the key to your protection."

Specifically, Frank recommends finding an inspection company with professional affiliations (i.e. National Academy of Building Inspection Engineers [NABIE] and National Society of Professional Engineers [NSPE]) as they only accept Licensed PEs, he writes for . Knowing this, you can use resources like the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) search tool to near you.

What Happens After An Inspection?

Here's exactly what your inspector should tell you after the inspection is completed, :

  • What repairs need to be made
  • How urgently they should be made
  • What the costs might be
  • Any risks of current damage or things that may be hidden
  • Alternatives to repairing or replacing items

      He also says you should expect:

      • A detailed written report that is more than a checklist
      • A Licensed P.E. seal on the report
          House with ''sold'' sign in front yard
          Getty ImagesAriel Skelley

          Following the inspection, notes that you will be able to negotiate who handles the repairs. "There are three typical outcomes to these negotiations," the site continues, "The seller can perform the repairs before settlement, the seller can credit you money for the repairs, or they can become your responsibility."

          Should the necessary repairs be too much to handle, buyers are typically able to walk away from the home "within the inspection timeframe," unless they signed a binding document—avoid doing this until you feel confident. Finally, hold onto the invoices from all of the repairs, so you can successfully settle and obtain the deed to your property.

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