Frequently Asked Questions
Home Inspection FAQ's
We have seen a lot of homes and talk to a lot of home buyers, here are some of the most frequent questions that come up throughout the inspection process.
Home inspections are usually the responsibility of the buyer, because a home inspection is part of the “due diligence” of buying a home.
Some sellers may choose to have a pre-listing home inspection conducted prior to putting their home on the market, at their expense. These are often done to eliminate any surprises and streamline the purchase process.
It is never worth skipping a home inspection. Even if you are confident about the value of a home and its condition, a professional home inspector can find issues that you did not notice, which will help you make an informed decision. This peace of mind is worth the cost of covering a home inspection yourself.
Most buyer agreements set out a certain number of days within which a home inspection must be completed (typically 10), to ensure timely inspections. The availability of an inspector can vary based on market conditions and time of year.
The home inspection itself usually takes about 3 hours, during which time the home inspector will check all of the major systems and structural components of the house. For larger homes, this process will take longer – for small homes and condos, it may only take 2 hours.
Included in the inspection time is a 45 minute consultation between the inspector and home buyer so we can share our findings and answer any questions you have.
Dwell Inspect has a same-day report delivery commitment. This report will be emailed to you, including photos and videos, and will summarize all of the major findings of the home inspection, ensuring that all parties understand the condition of the home.
Yes – but you probably don’t want to. You are responsible for paying for the cost of an appraisal, which will be required by your lender. This means you’re going to pay $300-$500 or more for an appraisal agent to examine the property.
If you have the property appraised before inspection, you could end up wasting that money because the inspection could reveal major concerns such as severe structural issues, which result in you walking away from the sale – and we have never heard of appraisal money getting refunded.
So, as a rule, it’s good to have the inspection conducted before an appraisal. You could save yourself some serious time, money, and headaches.
Technically, yes. The term “closing costs” can be confusing. Closing costs typically include every additional “cost” associated with buying a home. Real estate agents usually estimate closing costs – and their estimates typically include all special inspections like home inspections, sewer and radon inspections, etc.
However, even though home inspections are part of the closing costs, they are not due at closing. You pay for home inspections when they are performed – before other closing costs like:
- Mortgage application and origination fees
- Title, survey, and recording fees
- Property insurance and taxes
- Home warranties
- Commissions and other fees
The same is true of appraisals. Though they are considered part of the “closing costs”, you do not pay for them when you close on the home and buy it – you pay for appraisals when they are performed.
If your real estate agent has given you an estimate of closing costs, it generally includes common inspections. However, you should know that you will have to pay some of these fees in advance of the actual home purchase – and depending on the condition of the home, your fees and closing costs could vary from the real estate agent’s estimate. Be prepared for this.
The answer is “Yes” – but with a catch. During a home inspection, we will examine “Major Appliances” that will be sold with the home, such as:
- Water heaters
- Furnaces (or other heaters)
- AC systems
- Stoves and Ovens
- Fireplaces and chimney
As a rule, any appliance that is “built-in”, such as a dishwasher that cannot be removed, or any appliance that will be sold with the home is tested for function. However, it’s important to understand the limitations of this inspection process.
Most major appliances will simply be tested for basic functionality. For example, the inspector may turn on the oven to make sure that it heats up, or test all of the burners on a range to ensure that they are all functioning properly.
Your inspector is only concerned with general functionality – whether or not an appliance turns on, and has basic functionality. If you want a more in-depth evaluation, you will want to hire an appliance technician, which will carry an additional fee. However, this may be worth the price, particularly if the home has custom, built-in kitchen appliances which may be very costly to repair or replace.
No. Home inspections are, in many states, optional, and not required for a loan. Home appraisals, however, are mandatory. No bank or lender will generally give you any kind of loan without conducting an appraisal first.
If you choose not to have a home inspection, your mortgage lender is still happy to perform an appraisal, and allow you to take out your mortgage, as long as the appraisal results are good. But this can be an incredibly bad decision.
You see, home appraisals are completely different from home inspections. Home appraisals are only concerned with the general value of the property. A home appraiser has no interest in testing the major systems of the home – such as appliances, and HVAC systems – or confirming its structural integrity. All an appraiser does is objectively look at features of the home which determine its value, such as:
- Neighborhood and location
- Property/lot size
- Size of home (square footage)
- Comparable homes
- Number of bedrooms/bathrooms
- Overall condition and appearance of the home
This is done in order to make sure that you are paying a proper amount for the home. If you’re trying to take out a loan for $400,000, for example, and the appraiser believes the home is only worth $250,000, the lender may refuse to give you the loan.
Home inspections, on the other hand, are conducted to convey the condition of the property including expensive issues, such as water damage, a leaky roof, damage to the foundation, faulty HVAC systems, plumbing problems, and so on.
A home inspection is the only way to fully understand what you are buying from a functional standpoint. An appraisal simply does not offer the same benefits. Because of this, you should never skip a home inspection. It’s simply not worth the risk.
This is a question we get all the time. The answer is different for everyone and really a lot of it depends on the house. We encourage our clients to attend the inspection and look around yourself for any items or details that you may find interesting or have questions about. Chances are we will have it in our notes and will address them in our summary and report, but an active conversation can be beneficial for all involved. We also set aside 45 minutes at the end of the inspection to review our findings with you, so if you cannot be there the entire time, that is absolutely fine.
What do you do if you can’t make it to the inspection? You don’t need to do a thing! We’ll do our job and send over the report later that day. After you and your Realtor review the report, if you have any questions, we are always willing to host a phone conference to go over the findings. The same amount of support will be there whether you attend or not and regardless the report will have all of the findings listed with photos and videos.
Home inspections are usually the responsibility of the buyer, because a home inspection is part of the “due diligence” of buying a home. The seller does not have the responsibility of paying for a home inspection.
No house is perfect. If the inspector identifies problems, it doesn’t mean you should or shouldn’t buy the house, only that you will know in advance what to expect. We will always work with you and your realtor to help provide solutions for any repairs that are needed. Making an informed decision is the most important part.
Buying a home can be a scary process, the term “hurry up and wait” is one that always comes to mind. One big thing to remember is the home inspector is on your side, they don’t fail or pass homes, that can’t prevent you from buying a home, they use their years of experience to collect information about a home and share it with you. Having a neutral party like an inspector, that is not emotionally invested in the purchase, can be very helpful.
There are guidelines for home inspectors of what information to collect and what needs to be inspected, but nothing specifically identifying how they must deliver it. Talk with your Realtor and make sure you hire a home inspector who delivers a quality report with color photos, videos, commentary, and recommendation.
A good home inspector should review a house from top to bottom including all major structural components that he or she can get to. Expect the infrastructure such as the plumbing, electrical, gas lines, and specific appliances to be tested. The doors, windows, outlets, and even locks are typically all standard as well. Chances are when the home inspection is complete, that home inspector will know more about your home than you would in 10 years of living there, so ask questions, read the report, and follow up in the future if you have more questions.
Information is power and ideally with this information you and your Realtor can make the proper decision whether the house is still right for you and if you would like to ask for something to be repaired. One mistake most first-time home buyer’s make is not having a Sewer Scope and Radon test completed. Major sewer issues can add up into the $1,000’s, sometimes even reaching $15,000. A home with high Radon levels can be a serious health issue which would need a mitigation system installed to lower the concentration to safe levels. Typically these services are very affordable and yet some decide to skip them and come to regret it later.
Even the most experienced homeowner lacks the knowledge and expertise of a professional home inspector. An inspector is familiar with the elements of home construction, proper installation, maintenance and home safety. He or she knows how the home’s systems and components are intended to function together, as well as why they fail. Above all, most buyers find it difficult to remain completely objective and unemotional about the house they really want, and this may have an effect on their judgment. For accurate information, it is best to obtain an impartial, third-party opinion by a professional in the field of home inspection.
Your home inspector will surely take some extra time to check and double check the common problem areas of a home, but it doesn’t hurt to be aware of where to focus. These are the most common issues home inspectors uncover:
- Old or missing Smoke and CO Detectors
- Bad or faulty Outlets
- Missing GFCI’s
- Old or failing HVAC systems and Water Heaters
- Leaking pipes
- Downspouts discharging too close to the foundation
- Failed Caulking and Deteriorated Paint
- Failed Window Seals
- Poor Grading and Moisture Management
- Outdated & Faulty Electrical Wiring
- Door alignment, seal, and hardware issues
Any questions about the current condition of the home and how to maintain it- let your inspector help educate you on the home you are looking to purchase, that’s their job after all. Try to avoid focusing on minor cosmetic issues and get their professional opinion on what problems should really raise a red flag.
A home inspector should examine an entire house from the top of the roof down to the soil, inside they move room by room including the attic and crawlspace or basement. The primary purpose is identifying structural and major system flaws including anything safety related. Cosmetic items are not part of the standards of practice and generally don’t make it into the report. There is only so much time a home inspector has at the house and their top priority is to protect your family’s health, pocketbook, and investment.
As a homebuyer, there are a ton of great reasons to have a home inspection done before closing on a home, but here are a few of the big ones:
- Contingency Clause- This protects you, as the buyer, by allowing you to walk away from the deal if any major issue is found during the inspection.
- No surprises- Know exactly what you’re buying so you limit any surprise expense repairs down the road. Nobody wants to buy a money pit.
- Negotiating- If problems are found and repairs are needed, the inspection report becomes a negotiating tool for you. You can either request credits from the seller for known repairs that need to be made, or you can request that they fix any issues before closing.
Age can be just a number when it comes to homes, SOMETIMES…. Many older homes were built to last for decades and even centuries, but if they haven’t been well-maintained or have structure/foundation issues, this might not be the best investment for you. Home building techniques and materials have evolved and become more efficient so things like electrical wiring, plumbing, foundation, and roofing in an older home can be just that…old. Your home inspector can help you gage how big of a hurdle these issues might be during a home inspection. Most things can be fixed, replaced, and upgraded. What an older home may have that can’t be compared is its location. Always remember that an older home is tried and trued, it’s likely had decades of time to troubleshoot the small things and adapt to its environment.
The best way to ensure that you are purchasing a quality home is to have a home inspection done by a qualified and reputable inspector. You might consider going the extra mile and request their additional services, like a Sewer inspection or Radon test.
Plumbing issues can be common, but they typically require quick and minor repairs. So while these are rarely deal breakers, keep an eye out for these problems:
- Clogged toilets, baths, or shower drains
- Low or faulty water pressure
- Dripping faucets
- Leaky Pipes
- Water stains under bathrooms
A lot of things can affect the life expectancy of a home. Things like regular maintenance, climate, and how well-built the home is each play a significant role. Because an expiration date of a home doesn’t exist, we have houses in America that date back to George Washington. Neglected maintenance, deferred system upgrades, and failure to adapt the home to changing environments will likely lead to its demise. Most modern homes built with wooden structural supports and a concrete foundation could see 100 years or more of use. New and better materials are developed everyday which has only improved the potential lifespan of a home but everything requires maintenance and nothing will last forever.
Yes! New construction homes need an objective third-party to inspect. The city or county inspectors often don’t catch everything. Just because it is new doesn’t always mean it is right, or couldn’t be better. Code is only a baseline expectation. Our New Construction Inspections uncover costly repairs that the builder will fix for you.
We also offer a New Home Inspection package that includes the initial New Construction Inspection and Builder’s Warranty Inspection, 11 months later. As you approach the one-year anniversary of your home build, you will likely have one last chance to bring up any issues you have noticed for your builder to repair.