7 Things to Know About a Home Inspection

November 21st, 2023

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7 Things to Know About a Home Inspection

Things to Know About a Home Inspection

Here are seven things you need to know about a home inspection! 

Many buyers and sellers will ask us, as their Realtor®, what do we need to know about the home inspection?

Let's jump in and look at everything you need to know about a home inspection.

1. What is a Home Inspection?

A home inspection is a part of the home buying process in which an inspector will observe the home and include their findings in a written inspection report. 

After you go under contract, it is common for the buyer to hire a home inspector to observe the house visually. The home inspector will identify safety, health, or major mechanical issues in line with the state's standards, ensuring everything is to code. This is especially important if you are buying a home in bad condition

A home inspector will look for things that are not functioning properly, near the end of their service life, unsafe, or otherwise significantly deficient.

There are two different types of home inspections. There are seller's inspections and buyer's inspections.

A buyer's inspection happens before the closing of the sale after the buyer has made an offer. There's an opportunity after the home inspection for the buyer to request repairs or renegotiate their offer if issues arise.

On the other hand, a seller inspection occurs before the seller lists the home on the market. A seller's inspection is also referred to as a pre-listing inspection. Some, but not all, sellers opt to perform a home inspection while preparing their home for sale so that they can know about any issues ahead of time and six them. This can help them save time in the closing process.

Home inspector inspecting the staircase of a newly built home

2. How Much Does a Home Inspection Cost?

The location of the home for sale, as well as the age of the home and size, will be determinants of how much a home inspection costs.

In general, home inspection costs range between $300 and $450.

For an average 2000-square-foot home, buyers can reasonably expect to pay at least $400 to get a home inspection. If a home needs additional inspections or is larger than that, it can easily cost $500-$600 or more.

Other things that can make a home inspection more expensive are how far the inspector must travel and how unique the home is. You also might find that more experienced home inspectors charge more than less experienced ones.

Who Pays For the Home Inspection?

The buyer always pays for the buyer's inspections as part of the closing process. This is because the process is designed to protect the buyer, so they are responsible for the cost.

For a pre-listing inspection, the seller would cover the cost before listing the home on the market.

3. How Long Does a Home Inspection Take?

A home inspection will generally take two to two and a half hours to complete. However, it could take more time than this, depending on the size of the home.

How long a home inspection takes depends on the size of the home, the number of defects, the helpfulness of the owner in preparation for the inspection, and the inspector's thoroughness.

It is fair to expect an inspection to take two to four hours unless you know certain exceptional circumstances.

Home inspector inspecting a new home addition

4. What to Look For in a Home Inspection?

Home inspectors are looking at various aspects of a home during an inspection. Let's take a look at what they're looking for.


The roof is one of the major items on a home inspector's list to ensure it is functioning as intended by protecting the home from rain and other things that could cause damage to the home. There are some obvious indications your roof needs repair, so your home inspector will likely know immediately if it's something worth taking a further look at by a roofing specialist.

Home inspector looking at a roof on a home

HVAC System

With the HVAC system, they will look at the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system with a thorough visual inspection. They will be looking to ensure that the thermostat, ducts, air conditioner, furnace, and heat pump are functioning as they should be. They will also check for any signs of carbon monoxide gas leaks.

After visual inspection, they will also manually check the system.


Home inspectors will also look at the electrical aspects of the home. They will start by looking at the wires outside that lead into the electrical panel. Bill be sure to ensure that there aren't any bushes, trees, or other shrubs interfering with the wiring.

In newer neighborhoods, the wiring will be underground. In an older home, a home inspector will inspect any visible wires and ensure that no metal is showing and they are covered with insulation.

They also look at the electrical panel to ensure that it is connected not by fuses but by circuit breakers.

The size of the main breaker will also be inspected to ensure that it can withstand the electrical needs in the house. They will ensure that the wiring isn't loose and is made of copper rather than aluminum. No, I also want to ensure there isn't any rust inside the electrical panel.

They will also test all of the wall outlets with the multimeter. They will check to see if all of the light switches in the home function and will take note if any of them don't work.


The bathtubs, toilets, sinks, showers, pipes, water lines, and any home areas where water runs through will be checked. They will test the filler mechanisms, the levels in all toilets, and the flappers to ensure they work as they should.

Pipes and hydrants outside the house are checked for leaks to ensure proper antifreeze protection.

The water heaters will also check their pipes, temperature, and pressure relief valves.


If the home has an attic, a home inspector will look at the condition of the insulation, as this is an important aspect of how energy-efficient the houses are. They also check the ventilation in the attic, as poor ventilation can lead to moisture and mold growth.

A home inspector will also look for any signs of damaged insulation, water stains, or other signifiers of leaks. This is to be sure that there isn't any water damage.

In homes where the furnace is in the attic, they will look at whether rust is around it. This is because this is also a sign of water damage.

Any signs of fire damage will also be something they are looking for.

Looking at the attic is also an opportunity for the home inspector to assess the overall framing of the home and the roof. They use this information to help them determine whether or not the roofing system on the house is strong enough to withstand high winds.

Floors, Ceilings, and Walls

A home inspector will check the floors, ceilings, and walls for water damage, mold, or discoloration. They will look for cracks, sagging feelings, or any structural damage.

They will also look for bulging areas in the walls or uneven baseboards in the flooring.

A home inspector only looks for areas that need repair due to safety hazards or structural damage. They are not taking note of cosmetic items.

Windows and Doors

All of the windows and doors in the home will be checked to ensure they open and close as they should.

They will take note of the types of windows, like five-second vehicles in each room, and will make sure that all of the peasants in the home have at least one window that operates that could be used as an exit in an emergency situation.

Also, ensure that the doorframes are off-balance or sagging since this could indicate foundation problems.


Home inspectors typically start outside the home and work inside when looking at the foundation.

They will look for signs of a faulty foundation, including a sunken porch, cracked steps leading up to the house, or a chimney leaning away from the home.

Once inside the home, there are also signs that can be found of a problematic foundation. These can include considerable cracks in the ceiling or drywall, windows or doors that are hard to close, lopsided flooring, or several cracked tiles.

The home inspector will also look at other structural elements of the home, including the home framing. An important aspect of the home inspection is ensuring the structure is in strong condition and mold-free.

Home inspector looking at a home foundation and taking notes


If the home you are selling or are looking to buy has a basement, it will certainly be inspected by a home inspector. They will look for any signs of water damage in the basement. These might include damaged walls, uneven flooring, mold or mildew growth, a musty odor, or moisture in the basement.

An inspector will also examine the areas around basement doors and windows to ensure no water can enter.

5. Home Inspection Checklist

Home Inspectors work through the home with checklists of every item that needs to be observed and reported. The above items are on the home inspector's checklist and many others. Home inspectors inspect so many homes weekly that they know what to look for before stepping on the premises. Using the checklist, the home inspector has an easy guide as they move throughout the home, observing its condition.

Common home inspection problems come up on almost every report that will likely be on yours. Depending on what year your home is built, you're likely to have a certain type of plumbing, or your home is likely built to a certain 'code' that may have changed in your state. These are some of the common items that pop up on the home inspection checklist.

6. What Are the Major Issues Home Inspectors Look For?

A home inspection checklist is incredibly thorough since the home inspector's job is to observe, evaluate, and report on everything and anything that has to do with the home.

It is common for things to come up during the home inspection. However, there are major issues that can have an impact on the sale.

One of the biggest issues home inspectors are looking for is water damage. This is because water can cause major issues in a home. If there is water in the basement, it could mean plumbing issues, roof leaks, or structural damage. If water damage is overlooked, mold conforms.

Another major issue that home inspectors are looking for is the structural integrity of your home. Several times can indicate that the structures compromise or at home have settled. These include uneven or bouncy floors, gaps between floors and walls, cracks in basement walls around doorframes, stonework or bricks, cleaning or cracked chimneys, stairs or front porches, nails popping out of the walls, and gaps around door and window frames.

Other major issues include damage to the roof, electrical system problems, plumbing-related problems, pest and insect infestations, and issues with the HVAC system.

home inspection checklist with a pen

7. How Do I Negotiate After the Home Inspection?

You have several different options when it comes to negotiating repairs after a home inspection. One of the benefits of a home inspection is that it can help identify deficiencies in the home you are considering buying.

If issues are revealed during the inspection, this is an opportunity for you to negotiate with the seller.

If there is a home inspection contingency in place, and the problems that have popped up make you no longer want to sell the home, you might be able to back out entirely. You should be able to receive the deposit that you put down back in full if you did have this contingency in place.

One option is that you can ask the seller to make repairs before you will purchase the house. You can also ask them for credits towards the closing costs that you will be paying.

Another option is that you could ask for a reduction in the sale price in order to make up for the repairs that you will have to pay for.

The last option is that you could choose to move forward with the deal if you so choose to move forward and the sellers are not willing to negotiate.

In general, sellers might be willing to negotiate when major issues are uncovered. However, with superficial or aesthetic items, they will likely be less inclined to negotiate. Sellers of homes in soft markets or that have been on the market for a long time, might be more flexible.

It's important to note that sellers often won't often negotiate the issues that were known or were clearly visible before you made your offer.

Home Inspection - Final Thoughts 

Although a home inspection is not required, they are definitly strongly recommended so that the homebuyer fully understands the homes current condition. If you are ready to search homes for sale or want to know more about home inspections, contact us to get in touch with our knowledgable agents

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Ryan Fitzgerald

Ryan Fitzgerald

Hi there! Nice to 'meet' you and thanks for visiting our Raleigh Real Estate Blog! My name is Ryan Fitzgerald, and I'm a REALTOR® in Raleigh-Durham, NC, the owner of Raleigh Realty. I work alongside some of the best Realtors in Raleigh. You can find more of my real estate content on Forbes, Wall Street Journal, U.S. News and more. Realtor Magazine named me a top 30 under 30 Realtor in the country (it was a long time ago haha). Any way, that's enough about me. I'd love to learn more about you if you'd like to connect with me on Facebook and Instagram or connect with our team at Raleigh Realty. Looking forward to connecting!

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