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Home Inspection – Definition, Overview & FAQ

What is a home inspection?

Definition: A home inspection is a thorough examination of a property’s condition, conducted by a qualified inspector before the sale of a home.

The inspector evaluates various aspects of the house, including its structural integrity, electrical systems, plumbing, heating and cooling systems, roofing, and more. This inspection aims to identify any existing or potential issues that require repair or maintenance.

During the inspection, the inspector will look for signs of damage or wear and assess the safety and functionality of the home’s systems. The findings are then documented in a detailed report, which provides valuable information to potential buyers about the state of the property. This report can influence the buyer’s decision, negotiations on the sale price, or requests for repairs before finalizing the purchase.

Overall, a home inspection is a critical step in the home-buying process, offering buyers peace of mind by ensuring they are fully informed about the condition of the property they are considering purchasing.

How does a home inspection work?

A home inspection follows a systematic process to evaluate the condition of a home, often before a sale.

Here’s how it generally works:

  1. Hiring an Inspector: The homebuyer usually hires a licensed home inspector. Sometimes, sellers also conduct pre-listing inspections.
  2. Scheduling the Inspection: The inspection is arranged for a time when the buyer, and often the real estate agent, can be present.
  3. Inspection Day: The inspector visits the property and conducts a comprehensive review. This process usually takes a few hours, depending on the size and condition of the home.
  4. Areas of Evaluation: Inspectors check various components of the home, including the foundation, roof, attic, walls, ceilings, floors, windows, doors, plumbing, electrical systems, heating and air conditioning systems, and appliances. They may also evaluate the home’s exterior, including its drainage and landscaping.
  5. Identifying Issues: The inspector looks for any signs of damage, wear, safety hazards, or other conditions that could require repair or maintenance. This includes checking for structural issues, leaks, electrical problems, or any other defects.
  6. Reporting: After completing the inspection, the inspector prepares a detailed report outlining their findings. This report includes descriptions and photos of issues, along with recommendations for repairs or maintenance.
  7. Reviewing the Report: The buyer reviews the inspection report to understand the condition of the house. It helps them make informed decisions, such as negotiating repairs with the seller, adjusting the purchase offer, or even deciding whether to proceed with the purchase.
  8. Follow-Up: Depending on the inspection results, the buyer may need to consult with contractors, specialists (like a structural engineer or electrician), or the seller to address the identified issues.

Home inspection vs. appraisal

Home inspections and appraisals are both important components of the home buying process, but they serve different purposes and are conducted by different professionals.

Home Inspection

  • Purpose: To assess the condition of the home, identifying any issues or repairs that may be needed.
  •  Conducted by: A licensed home inspector.
  •  Focus: Evaluates the structural integrity, and the condition of the home’s systems (like plumbing, electrical, HVAC), and checks for safety hazards.
  •  Result: A detailed report outlining the physical condition of the home, highlighting any areas needing repair or maintenance.
  •  Benefit to Buyer: Provides an in-depth understanding of the property’s condition, helping in making an informed purchase decision and negotiating repairs or price adjustments.


  • Purpose: To determine the property’s market value.
  •  Conducted by: A licensed appraiser.
  •  Focus: Examines the location, size, condition, and comparable property sales to estimate the property’s market value.
  •  Result: An appraisal report that gives an estimated value of the property.
  • Benefit to Buyer/Lender: Ensures the buyer is paying a fair price and helps lenders confirm the property is worth the loan amount. It’s primarily for the lender’s benefit as part of the mortgage approval process.

Home inspection checklist

  1.  Exterior
    a. Roof: Condition of shingles, signs of leaks, condition of gutters and downspouts.
    b. Foundation: Cracks or damage, signs of water damage.
    c. Siding and Walls: Damage or decay in siding, stucco, or paint.
    d. Windows and Doors: Proper sealing, damage, and functionality.
    e. Driveways and Walkways: Cracks, uneven surfaces, drainage issues.
    f. Landscaping: Proper drainage, condition of trees and shrubs.
  2. Interior
    a. Walls and Ceilings: Cracks, water stains, and damages.
    b. Floors: Condition, signs of unevenness or damage.
    c. Electrical System: Condition of wiring, circuit breakers, outlets, and light fixtures.
    d. Plumbing: Leaks, water pressure, condition of pipes, and water heater.
    e. HVAC System: Condition and functionality of the furnace, air conditioning, and ventilation systems.
    f. Appliances: Functionality and condition of built-in or included appliances.
  3.  Kitchen and Bathrooms
    a. Cabinets and Countertops: Stability, damage, quality of finish.
    b. Sinks, Tubs, and Showers: Functioning faucets, signs of leaks, water damage.
    c. Toilets: Functionality and stability.
  4. Safety Features
    a. Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors: Presence and functionality.
    b. Fire Extinguishers: Availability and expiration dates.
    c. Security Systems: If present, check basic functionality.
  5. Basement and Attic
    a. Insulation: Adequacy and condition.
    b. Ventilation: Proper airflow to prevent moisture buildup.
    c. Signs of Pests or Rodents: Droppings, nests, or damage.
  6. Additional Systems (if applicable)
    a. Septic Systems: General condition and signs of malfunction.
    b. Well Systems: Water quality and pump functionality.
    c. Swimming Pools or Hot Tubs: Condition, safety features, and filtration system.
  7. General
    a. Odors or Signs of Mold: Indicative of moisture problems.
    b. Overall Cleanliness and Maintenance: This can indicate how well the property has been cared for.

Why do you need a home inspection?

A home inspection is crucial in the home-buying process for several reasons:

  • Identifying Hidden Problems: A home inspection can reveal issues that may not be apparent to the average buyer, such as structural problems, outdated wiring, plumbing issues, roof defects, and more.
  • Informed Decision Making: The detailed report provided by a home inspector gives potential buyers a comprehensive understanding of the property’s condition, helping them make an informed decision.
  • Negotiation Leverage: If significant issues are found, buyers can use the inspection report to renegotiate the sale price, request repairs from the seller, or even decide to back out of the deal if the problems are too severe.
  • Safety: A home inspection can uncover safety issues like mold, radon, carbon monoxide, and electrical hazards, ensuring the safety of the future occupants.
  • Future Cost Prediction: Understanding the home’s current condition helps in anticipating future maintenance and repair costs, aiding in budget planning.
  • Insurance: Some insurance companies require a home inspection to identify risks before issuing a policy.
  • Peace of Mind: Knowing the exact condition of the home provides peace of mind and confidence in the purchase decision.


What happens when a home inspector finds something is wrong?

If a home inspector finds issues, they document them in a detailed report. The buyer can then use this report to renegotiate the price, ask the seller to make repairs, or decide to withdraw their offer, especially if major problems are discovered.

What is the cost of home inspection?

The home inspection cost varies, typically from £300 to £1,500 , depending on the property’s size, age, and location. Larger or older homes might cost more due to the required detailed inspection.

How long does a home inspection take?

A typical home inspection takes about 2-4 hours, but the duration can vary based on the size and condition of the home. Larger, older, or more complex properties may require more time.

What are home inspectors not allowed to do?

Home inspectors are not allowed to make repairs or improvements, offer a property’s valuation or its compliance with local building codes, and they generally do not inspect inaccessible areas or systems not included in a standard inspection.

Can you fail a home inspection?

A home inspection is not a pass/fail test but a detailed assessment of the property’s condition. It identifies issues needing attention, but it doesn’t “fail” a home; rather, it informs the potential buyer of the home’s state.

Do new homes need a home inspection?

Yes, even new homes should have a home inspection. This is to identify any issues that may have been overlooked during construction or to address problems that arise after a building is completed.