Why You Should Never Skip a Home Inspection

By Lauren Caggiano on May, 19 2022
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Lauren Caggiano

Lauren Caggiano is a Fort Wayne-based copywriter and editor with a nerdy passion for AP Style. In her free time, she enjoys volunteering, thrift shopping, fitness and travel. Learn more on her website: www.lovewriteon.com.

There’s nothing worse than finding what you think is your dream home only to find out it’s a nightmare because you didn’t do your due diligence. A home inspection protects the buyer’s interest and is highly recommended before pulling the trigger on a purchase. Let’s dive into why and how a home inspection is an industry-standard practice.


What Makes an Inspection Fail?


 First off, it might be helpful to know that home inspections are not intended to find issues on a micro level. Rather, inspections identify safety issues and major problems that require significant repairs. The results of an inspection can help you decide whether to move forward with your purchase or ask for repairs or a credit for repairs.


When buying a home there can be a lot of issues that aren’t visible to the naked eye. If you’ve never owned a home before, this process can seem daunting. Don’t worry, though, we’ve put together a home inspection checklist to use when viewing a property. Making note of these details during the initial walk-through stage of homebuying will help prepare you to ask the right questions during the professional home inspection.


That said, pay attention to this home inspection checklist:


Outside the House


Exterior: Are the gutters and downspouts properly attached, and do they drain away from the house? What kind of siding is on the home? Is it in good condition?


Roof: Do you see stains, dark spots or even moss? Any missing shingles or tiles? Ask about the age of the roof.


Foundation: Do you see any big cracks? Are there trees close to the foundation? Does any part of the ground near the foundation seem soggy, squishy or sunken?


Windows and doors: Do they open and close easily? Do any seem misaligned? Do you see any signs of moisture around the frames or between the panes?


Inside the House


Smells: Do you notice any unusual scents? Mold or mildew can be lurking in spots that might not be visible but can be detected by scent.


Attic and basement: Can you see any signs of moisture or leaks? If the attic or basement is unfinished, what kind of insulation do you see? Is it in good condition?


Heating and cooling: What systems are in place, and are they functional? Look for a serial number or manufacturing date to try to gauge the age of the units.


Plumbing: How’s the water pressure? Do the fixtures work? Any signs of leaks in under-sink cabinets? How old is the water heater?


Electrical: Do all light switches work? Does the house have an older electrical panel with fuses, a newer one with circuit breakers or both? Outdated wiring can spell trouble and be a chore to upgrade.


Major appliances: If appliances like the oven, refrigerator, washer or dryer are included with the sale, what’s their condition?


Next Steps


Keep your checklist notes and photos handy for the official inspection. A professional home inspector will examine the property for anything that should or must be addressed.


No matter how minor or significant the issues, the home inspection is a vital step before you make this investment. In most cases, you, the homebuyer, pay for the inspection at the time of service. While fees can vary depending on a home’s location, size and age, a home inspection costs an average of $300 to $450, according to Angie’s List.


When it’s time to schedule the inspection, consider these other important actions. For one, resist the urge to pass on the inspection, even if the seller seems pushy. Also, don't give into your own excitement. No matter how badly you want to get the keys, it’s in your best interest to not skip out on an inspection.


Experts also recommend that you ensure there’s an inspection contingency in your purchase contract. Having this condition in your back pocket gives you time to complete necessary inspections and get estimates for work. Plus, it gives you the luxury of being able to negotiate with the seller — or back out of the sale entirely, if something surfaces.


If you need to schedule work, determine which tasks are the most urgent, then negotiate with the seller. You could request that they take care of the repairs. Or to keep the sale moving and have more agency, request a credit due at closing or a reduction in the sale price instead.


Another thing to keep in mind is that in most states, home sellers are required to disclose any known property defects. Disclosures can extend to information about the neighborhood and neighbors.


Usually, your real estate agent will furnish the disclosure after you’ve made an offer. Though in a couple of states, you might get it sooner. There’s a fairly wide range in what states ask sellers to disclose. Plus, keep in mind that simply having a disclosure requirement doesn’t necessarily mean the seller will honor it. If you do get a seller’s disclosure statement, review it carefully both for good measure and to note any areas that warrant extra attention during the home inspection.


It also helps to know what to expect before you get to this important step. You can view sample home inspection forms on the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors website. This resource may be more detailed than necessary, but at the very least you can get a better handle on the scope of a home inspection as well as things to look for when touring houses.


Remember: there’s no such thing as a flawless house. Your home inspection will likely turn up something — it’s just a matter of the scope and scale of the issue.


Also, keep in mind that you don’t have to go this alone. With the help of a top real estate agent, you can negotiate the price to reflect the work and investment to resolve these issues. There are always options and you have every right as a buyer to ensure you’re not buying a money pit. Ultimately, the time and effort you spend coordinating the inspection is worth it in helping you to make the best decision possible.