The newest data collected by Redfin reveals homes in the United States go for a median price of $388,535 as of February 2022. And according to Realtor.com, the median listing home price in Dothan, AL was $199K in February 2022, trending up 13.7% year-over-year. But how much is a home inspection?
For most people, homes are the largest investments of their lives so it makes sense to get them inspected before buying. But how much should you expect to pay for a home inspection?
From sagging floors and drafty windows to leaky gutters and termites, there’s a lot a property endures over the years, even if it’s maintained well. So when you’re considering buying one as your next home, it’s important to understand the true condition of the house in order to make an informed buying decision.
With a home inspection, you’ll be able to understand what concerns are typical inexpensive wear and tear items, and those that could require a significant spend. For example, an electrical plug that isn’t functioning or some peeling paint will be easy enough to address as wear and tear. However, a sagging floor joist or an inoperable appliance might be something you’ll want to take back to your agent as a point of negotiation on the purchase.
Home inspections are a fraction of the cost of buying a home. Usually, for just a few hundred dollars, the information provided by the inspector and the report provided, make them more than worth the money.
These days a home inspection is usually part of the home buying process, and most real estate agents and lenders will recommend one. However, many homebuyers never get a clear answer to questions like “how much does a home inspection cost?”
What is a Home Inspection?
After you narrow down your options and decide to make an offer on a property, your real estate agent will usually advise you to include a home inspection contingency in your offer. Adding an inspection contingency to a real estate transaction makes the sale of the home contingent on the inspection’s results.
During a home inspection, a qualified home inspector visits the property and examines the condition of all visible aspects of the house, including the condition of the foundation and roof. All the systems in the home (think HVAC and electric) and also the plumbing of the property are scrutinized.
The idea of a home inspection is to give the home buyer a detailed assessment of the state of the property. The results can reveal issues that even the current homeowner is unaware of. If the issues are severe, they could impact the property’s final selling price or your decision to purchase it at all.
Your location will influence the areas a home inspector may concentrate on. For instance, if you’re in a cold-weather state, you can expect the inspector to spend a lot of time examining the roof.
On the other hand, you can expect a home inspector to test the air conditioning system thoroughly in a hot state.
When the inspection is complete, the home buyer receives an inspection report detailing the inspector’s findings. This report may be a binder of printed pages that are handed to you, or it may arrive in the PDF format in your inbox. Here at Cornerstone, we send your report via email within 24 hours of completing the inspection.
It’s always best to hold onto this detailed report, even if you don’t use it to negotiate the final price. You could use it as a checklist of improvements you want to make to your new home over time.
How Much Is A Home Inspection?
Per the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, home inspections cost between $300 and $500. For a single-family home, this is the price you can expect to pay for a home inspection. This is consistent with our pricing for home inspections here in Southeast Alabama.
If you’re looking into purchasing a condominium, you can expect the home inspection cost to be lower. Depending on where you live, this could cost between $200 and $300.
You can also have a mobile home inspected before you purchase it. These inspections cost around $250 on average, but you can expect to pay more the bigger the mobile home is.
Different inspectors set their charges differently. For instance, an inspector may charge you a flat fee per square foot. So if you’re looking at two homes, and one of them is twice the square footage of the other, it may cost you twice the amount to inspect it.
Some inspectors do not charge you based on flat rates. Before quoting a price, an inspector may dig deeper into the property’s age and condition. You can expect these inspectors to charge you more to look at older properties than newer properties.
Here at Cornerstone, we charge based on square footage with an upcharge if it has a crawl space, or if you want to add a pool or outbuilding inspection.
If you or your agent suspect serious issues with the property, such as issues with the sewer or the presence of hazardous substances, getting specialized inspections done is the right way to go. While you will need to pay for these separately, determining if the home has a serious issue and having it remediated before moving in will save money and hassle.
If the property features a barn, private well, or septic system, you can get additional inspections done to check the condition of those parts.
Is a Home Inspection Necessary?
A home inspection is not always necessary, but getting one regardless of the home’s condition is a smart move. It will protect you from buying a property that has concerns that may not be noticeable to you.
Getting a home inspection is especially important if you’re buying a foreclosure since the seller does not disclose anything about the home upfront.
In the event there are major concerns with a home, the results of a home inspection will give you the leverage you need to negotiate for a better price. You could also ask the seller to repair the major defects of the property before handing it over to you.
But most importantly, if the property has some deal-breaking issues, you can use the inspection contingency to walk away from the purchase and find another property to buy.
Interestingly, if a seller has multiple bids on the house and wants to sell the property off as quickly as possible, buyers don’t bother with home inspections. However, in these situations, the buyers tend to be able to cover the cost of any unexpected repairs after purchase.
If competitive situations like those make you uncomfortable, you could write the seller an offer promising that you will not request repairs after the home inspection. This does two things:
- It allows you to gauge how much it would cost you to repair any damages on the property, and
- The seller understands that you will either purchase the property after the inspection process or walk away. This allows the seller to keep their options open.
In a competitive situation, a seller may not agree to let you inspect the home if it takes you too long to hire somebody since they prefer a quicker closing.
Factors That Influence Home Inspection Cost
The cost of a home inspection sometimes depends on the size, age, and location of the property. If the property has freestanding structures such as a workshop or a septic system that are not attached to the home, you can expect to pay an increased cost to have them inspected.
If you require additional property examination, such as a water quality inspection or a pest inspection, you will need to pay extra.
Besides this, you will need to make sure that you schedule an inspection in advance. The home inspection company may ask you to pay a travel cost if the inspector has to travel a long distance to visit the property.
What Sort of Issues Does a Home Inspector Look For?
A professional home inspector will evaluate the major systems and structures of the property. The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors requires these professionals to examine over 1,600 individual items before making a conclusive inspection report.
It’s important to note that the inspector will not pay heed to cosmetic damage during a professional home inspection. The inspector will hunt for signs of underlying structural defects and serious damage.
While we cannot detail every single item that an inspector will examine throughout the home inspection process, here is some insight into the major areas they cover:
The interior is one of the key areas that inspectors focus on. They check every room for unstable flooring and leaning walls. Further, they note water damage from potential leaks and ensure that the home is sufficiently insulated.
Home inspectors are also trained to inspect whether a home’s interior has proper ventilation or not.
When an inspector is finished checking the interior, they will head outdoors and examine the home’s main structure. Besides looking for issues with the home’s foundation, they will also note the condition of doors, windows, and the roof.
You can expect the inspector to examine the shingles and gutters on the roof thoroughly. The chimneys and skylights of the property also receive the same treatment.
Home inspectors are trained to look for stagnant water and drainage issues in the yard of a property. Additionally, inspectors pay special attention to downspouts, posts and rails, and retaining walls to find structural damage.
Kitchen and Bathrooms Inspection
These are some of the most essential parts of any home. Inspectors check the electrical outlets, ensure they are grounded, and look for leakage in all areas of the kitchen and the bathrooms.
Inspectors also determine whether the faucets and showers are working correctly and whether the cabinets are in functional condition. In the kitchen, the inspector will ensure the vent hood safely connects to the outside and that all the appliances work as expected.
Systems and Plumbing Inspection
One of the biggest challenges that an inspector must overcome is the comprehensive evaluation of the wiring and electrical systems of the home. Inspectors are required to note whether the systems are functioning as designed and that they do not present any hazards.
Besides checking the light switches and outlets, inspectors also check HVAC systems. Furthermore, they thoroughly examine the plumbing system, including the water heater.
How Long Does a Home Inspection Take? When is the Inspection Report Ready?
Before you can schedule a home inspection, your real estate agent will need to coordinate with the inspector and find a convenient time for them to inspect the property. Generally speaking, the seller isn’t home during the home inspection.
It takes inspectors between two to three hours to walk through the average home. Bear in mind that if you’ve asked the inspector for specialized inspections, the process will take longer.
Something like a sewer scope inspection will take about an hour, whereas radon testing will take up to four days. The timeframe for special inspections depends on the turnaround time of the lab. You must speak to the inspector about the timeline, and they will help you set your expectations about how long it will take.
Who Pays for a Home Inspection?
Buyers are responsible for hiring a home inspector and paying for the inspection.
Some sellers have their homes inspected proactively, typically when a listing agent notices obvious damage on the property and recommends the seller to get one done. In this way, the agent helps the seller disclose what’s known about the home and helps buyers understand what they can expect from their home inspection.
How Does Someone Find and Vet a Home Inspector?
Homes are big investments, and working with a good home inspector will help you protect the investment. You will need to take the time to find the right inspector since your purchase will impact your long-term financial well-being. It could take days to find the right person for the job, and you cannot rush it.
The best way to find inspectors is to search for home inspectors in your area. For example, “Home inspectors dothan al” will show you a list of inspectors serving Southeast Alabama. In the search results, you’ll find that Cornerstone Home Inspectors has been serving the area since 2013 and has hundreds of 5-star reviews.
You can also ask your real estate agent for recommendations. They will give you the contact details of the inspectors they’ve worked with in the past and had a good experience with.
It’s also important to remember that once you’ve found the right inspector, you will need to wait for them to be available for the inspection. The availability of an inspector depends on the area’s real estate market. If an inspector is busy, it could take weeks before they can help you.
Then comes the part where you vet the inspector you’ve found. Understanding how an inspector gets certified and licensed will give you a better idea of who the right person is. At Cornerstone, our inspectors are licensed by the State of Alabama and certified by NACHI.
What Does it Take to Become a Home Inspector?
Home inspectors are certified by two major organizations: NACHI and ASHI. Both offer training programs and require certified home inspectors to complete continuing education to stay certified. These organizations also ensure that home inspectors comply with the state’s regulations.
If you’re in a state that doesn’t require licensure, don’t worry, you can check whether home inspectors in your state require licenses to operate by referring to this page on the American Society of Home Inspectors site.
Regardless, looking for reviews of the inspector online is a great way to determine the quality of the inspection service offered. Many inspectors make copies of their previous reports available online, and checking these will allow you to see if you would get your money’s worth. Here’s a sample of one of our inspections.
What Happens if the Home Inspector Misses Something?
If you find a major problem in the property that was not mentioned in the inspection report after moving in, reach out to your inspector to figure out your options.
Most reputable home inspectors have liability insurances that could cover the cost of the damage. But for a buyer to access these funds, they must prove that the damage was pre-existing and did not appear after you moved in. At a minimum, there must be proof of prior indications that an issue would occur.
Conclusion: What Can You Expect After Hiring a Home Inspector?
You can expect the home inspection cost to be between $300 and $500. It could be higher depending on the location and size of the property.
After you pay for the inspection, the inspector will tell you when they intend to visit the property. Ideally, you may request a walk-through video or attend the inspection in person to get a better look at the damage.
At Cornerstone, you’ll receive a report within 24 hours after the inspection detailing all the minor and major defects of the property.