Home Buyer's Guide to Inspections

Buyer’s Guide to Home Inspections

A home inspection is not required in many home purchase agreements, but it is truly essential. You have to know what you are buying, inside and out, and only a high-quality home inspection can help you determine the details.

Aside from knowing you should request one, what else is there to know about the home inspection process? Below is a focused buyer’s guide to home inspections.

Multi-story house

The Inspection Period

Usually, a home buyer has an inspection clause in the contract once they sign on the dotted line. This inspection clause allows them to apply a home inspection before final closing. It dictates the timeframe for the inspection, which is usually 14 to 30 days.

You are allowed this period to do the inspection and make a final arrangement for closing on the home. How long do home inspections usually last? The actual inspection may take a few hours, but rarely more than two different visits over two days. The inspection results should be back within the week.

What Inspectors are Looking For

The home inspector will provide a report based on their findings. This report will rank various aspects of the home based on the quality.

What is included in a general home inspection? Typically, it varies from ratings of material, major, minor, and cosmetic. A material condition rating means that the issue is a significant concern and may impact safety. This is the worse rating for a specific area. In fact, many banks may not fund a home mortgage if the inspection report has any material marks.

A major rating is substantial and reflects a need to repair or upgrade (though it may not necessarily pose a danger) while a minor rating needs repair down the road and a cosmetic rating typically refers to a worn though functional condition.

Inspectors will review major parts of the home, such as the bathroom, toilet, plumbing, kitchen stove, foundation, walls, insulation, and much more.

Checklist picture with pink highlighter

The Ultimate Checklist

So how do inspectors determine the results above? They will undoubtedly use a guide, more properly known as a checklist.

There is a universal home inspection checklist that many inspectors will use. You can download one online and review it for yourself. It may be a good idea to use it as a template for repairs and renovations, and match it with the home inspection results.

Your home inspection checklist may differ from that of the home inspector or they may add new aspects not covered in the industry checklist. Regardless, the checklist will keep every involved individual on the same page as to the condition of the home. The checklist can also guide you to the right questions to ask during a home inspection. Inspectors are legally bound to report on everything they find. If you can, try to hear their reports directly so you can learn what minor actually means and what needs to be addressed.

Who Pays for the Inspection?

The inspection is necessary. But who should pay for a home inspection? In most scenarios, the buyer will pay for it and take the lead on hiring the inspection team or individual. A buyer can also negotiate different terms for payment so the seller pays for it. This will be added as a clause.

With that said, this approach is not traditional. Because the inspection is for the buyer and their benefit, it is usually their upfront cost to handle.

Always follow the professional home inspection checklist during the review to stay consistent and thorough. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification or an actual physical site inspection upon receiving the final report. Get down and dirty! Know exactly what you are buying and what is at stake. To take this even further, you can consider specific and more intensive inspections for radon, asbestos, septic, and more.

Contact us for buying or selling a home. We have home inspection tips for sellers and buyers that can get everyone ahead on the right foot.