Home Inspection Costs
In the Puget Sound Area, the average cost for a home inspection on a 2,500-3,000 sq.ft. home is about $467. We’ve selected a few companies and their prices below.
Finding a Great Home Inspector
Price shouldn’t be the main factor when choosing an inspector. You can find ones for as low as $300, but it doesn’t mean they will have the credentials and experience. A good inspector will let you know the potential issues upfront so that you can make a better decision. Also, they will go over the technology that they will have when it comes to inspecting your home.
Make sure they are certified by the International Association of Home Inspectors (NACHI). The members of this organization has to follow a Standard of Practice. One of the best ways to find one is through family or friends that have bought a house recently. Agents generally have at least a couple ready to refer to clients. Your last resort is to look for reviews online.
If the inspector has a background in an area that is related to the construction of the home, this is an added bonus. Some inspectors might have a history of building homes and so understand how a home is constructed and if something looks abnormal. The inspector might have a background in structural engineering and thus have a deeper understanding if beams and trusts have been shifted and if the cracks in the walls are concerning.
The Importance of a Home Inspection
There are a few reasons why a home inspection will benefit you as a home buyer. First, after the inspection is done you will know upfront the issues with the home and you can decide if you want to move forward towards closing. Secondly, if the seller wasn’t even aware of the problem, you and the seller can take the opportunity to agree to a compensation. The third scenario is even if the seller is not willing to budge to fix the issue in a hot market, if you still love the home, at least you will know what you are stepping into and be able to budget for those repairs. And the last thing is peace of mind. When you’re buying a used home, you really don’t know what is between the walls, beneath the house, or in the attic. A home inspection is a fraction of what it will cost you if you found out there was a repair for $5,000 or $10,000.
Inspections can happen before the home goes under contract or after the home goes pending. In a fast moving market, the inspection is done before the offer is written so the buyer does not have an inspection contingency. What that means is they don’t have an allowed time frame to do an inspection and back out from the home. On the contrary, with an offer that does have an inspection contingency, the buyer is allowed to do an inspection within a number of days agreed by the buyer and seller. After inspection, the buyer will respond to the seller they want to move towards closing.
Inspection is Different than an Appraisal
Some home buyers get confused between an appraisal and an inspection. A home inspection is a limited, non-invasive examination of the condition of a home, often in connection with the sale of that home. Home inspections are usually conducted by a home inspector who has the training and certifications to perform such inspections. The inspector prepares and delivers to the client a written report of findings. The client then uses the knowledge gained to make informed decisions about their pending real estate purchase. The home inspector describes the condition of the home at the time of inspection but does not guarantee future condition, efficiency, or life expectancy of systems or components. An appraisal is when a 3rd party determines the value of the home-based on various methods of valuations. A home inspection is when a home inspector inspects the home and provides feedback about the state of the house. The appraisal is usually done after the inspection or the second or third week before closing.
Home Inspection Process
A home inspection generally takes between 3 to 4 hours to complete for a midsize home, possibly more for a bigger or less for a smaller home. A 5,000 square foot home can take up to 5 to 6 hours and a 1,000 square foot home.
Arrive and Prepare: He/she will arrive at the home and prepare the home for an inspection. He might turn systems and fixtures on so that they can be ready later for testing.
Each inspector’s process will be different; some might start on the outside of the home first or the inside. Also, an inspector may choose to start with a certain item or part of the house before others. Therefore, it is better if we look at the items that will be inspected in your new home than an exact timeline process.
What will home inspectors look for?
- Common Areas: These are areas that don’t fall under the category of a bathroom, bedroom, or kitchen. These areas are usually open areas such as hallways and foyers. The common items to be looked at under this category can be cabinets, ceiling fans, closets, doorbells, doors, electrical, smoke detectors, stairs and handrail, ceiling condition, patio doors, screen doors, wall conditions, fireplace, floor conditions, and window conditions.
- Bedrooms: The inspection in the bedrooms looks at the structural systems. This means that all walls, ceilings, and floors will be looked at.
- Bathrooms: They will check to see if there is water damage that may be caused from skylights in the bathroom or from the shower, the outlets to see if they are GFCI protected, and that all of the plumbing is working and not leaking from the sink, toilet, and shower.
- Roof: Granules’ wear and tear, proper flashing, and remaining life the roof
- Attic: Property ventilation, water leaks, trusts supported properly
- Siding: Water damage, and missing or worn caulking
- Crawlspace: Rodents and feces, excessive moisture build-up, foundation cracks, water damage, more than usual settling, vapor barrier
- Kitchen: Appliances are functioning and plumbing issues
- Exterior: Flashing and trim, stairs, steps, porches, patios, decks, vegetation
- Heating/Cooling: Any potential issues, last date of maintenance
- Electrical: Grounding, bonding, GFCI protected, CO2 smoke detectors
The summary is the findings that the inspector would like to bring up because based on his opinion he thinks the items can be a hazard and safety concern.
What Does Not Get Tested
The inspector does not test for mold, pests, lead-based paint, asbestos, swimming pools, radon gas. These require specialists and the home inspection is just a general inspector. If you were to hire each of these specialists, it would cost too much money. If an inspector suspects that there is mold or pests or anything that is concerning he generally will recommend for you to get a specialist.
What to Expect With A Used Home
Inside a home, the most expensive items to fix are the roof, foundation, framing, plumbing systems, appliances, and electrical systems. So, most home buyers tend to focus on these areas and everything else is cosmetics.
Water heaters tend to last about 7-10 years. A tankless water heater lasts about 20 years. A furnace lasts for about 13 to 15 years. The roof lasts for about 20-25 years depending on the area; in a place like Washington State it can be less due to the weather. A/C units last for about 15 years. Of course, the lifespan of these items depends on the maintenance that is received.
A 20-year-old home can be spotless because the seller did the right maintenance at the right time. Or, you can do an inspection on a 10 year old home and everything is falling apart. So, you never know what you will get until you see the inspection report.
In a 5-year-old home you can expect systems to be still working. The water heater, furnace, and A/C, will usually all still be functioning. Some common items that may appear on your inspection report might be the furnace needs to be serviced. It’s not common for sellers to service their furnace every year. The moss on the roof may need to be cleaned. Not many times are going to be breaking down at this point. However, there may be items that need to be cleaned or serviced.
If a home is 10 years old, you may need to budget to replace the water heater if it’s not tankless, and that can cost $1,000-$1,200 to replace. You might start to see cracked slabs and small cracks inside the home on the walls. This is very normal as the home settles over time.
On a 25-year-old home, you might have to budget to replace some of the items. While the roof at this point might still have some life on it if it’s been maintained, most roofs at this point will need to be replaced. The home exterior such as the siding might need to be replaced. This really depends on the material thatwas used. The windows might show some signs of condensation between the panes. These are signs that you should replace your windows.
In Seattle, a sewer scope is very common in an older, used home. A sewer scope looks for a sewer line that goes from the house to the main sewer to see if there are any breakages or cracks caused by root intrusion, age, or environmental factors that have caused the earth to shift. In the old days, builders used clay vs. PVC pipes now to install the sewer line, and clay tends to break down over time.
What to Expect in a New Construction
For a new construction, you can expect less issues with the materials that were put into the home being old but you can also expect potential issues with how these were installed or how the whole house was put together. Here are some issues that may come up on an inspection report.
- Decks: improper nails used on joist hangers or missing handrails
- Siding: missing caulking or missing flashing
- Roofing: missing nails, flashing, and roof vents
- Plumbing: leaks and loose connections
- Concrete Patio: gaps not sealed
- Paint: uneven paint, white spots
- Bathrooms: uncaulked areas
What Are Reasonable Requests?
A reasonable request will depend on the market you are in and the seller. Let’s say the market is moving very hot and the seller had 6 offers on the property. If your request is a long laundry list, the seller might negotiate with a backup offer and that buyer might be okay with the water heater being old but it’s still working. But you want the heater to be replaced, the seller will sell it to the other buyer and you will lose the home.
The willingness of a seller also depends on what the seller thinks is home is worth with those repairs. For instance, let’s say you’ve gone into a multiple offer situation. The home was listed for $425,000 and the home got bid up to $450,000. You then do a quick inspection and find out the repairs will cost $25,000.
What do you ask for? Look at the market. Look at the activities and see what is available for $450,000. The two things you will be looking for are the condition of the home and the price. One of three things can happen. First, you mightfind houses in the same condition for $450,000. Secondly, you might find homes in worse condition than the home you have under contract. Thirdly, you might find houses in better condition.
If it’s the same condition for $450,000, meaning the same price and the same cost in repairs, then ask yourself – do you want to start over finding another home? You will have to spend time looking for a home and spending another $400 or more on an inspection. After you do the inspection, most likely you will have the same repairs needed because the home will be in the same condition. If the answer is no, then try to negotiate a few things and move forward with closing because you don’t have too many options available.
If you find a home worse than the condition than the home you have pending, meaning the same price but more cost in repairs, then your best best is to take the home that you have now in hand, because it doesn’t make sense to spend money on the inspection again and go into contract with a home with more costs to repair for the same price.
If you find a home listed for the same price and better condition, then it might be better for you to withdraw from this offer. You will also have to consider if you will actually get the house in a multiple offer situation. You might not and will have to spend a few more bidding wars to get one pending.
What You Don’t Want to Show Up on an Inspection Report
A roof that needs to be replaced: A bank is hesitant to lend you the money if the home has a roof that is past its useful life. Look for signs of ceiling stains and mold. If the leak is recent, you will not find mold, but you will find water stains inside the attic or ceilings. Another one is if the granules that protect the asphalt are falling off. These areas will be darker than other areas of the roof. You may also see that the shingles are cracking or curling.
Large cracks in the foundation: When a home is newly built, it’s normal for a foundation to sink in and develop tiny cracks in the first few years. So a 1/16” crack is very normal. If a crack is ¼” it can be a concern and the issue should be looked into more closely. Banks will not lend on a home that has a concerningly large crack in the foundation.
These damages can cost a lot of money if the water has been there for a while. Water damage can be from a roof leaking, or siding that has not been maintained, and then water comes in from the siding. It can also come from a deck where the bolts have not been attached at proper sealants and flashing has not been installed. The water will soak into the framing and the floor joist. You will end up replacing the whole area and that can be a lot of money.
Mold ties in with water damage. If the water sits there for a long time, bacteria will collect and mold will form; this can cause respiratory problems.
Home Buyer’s Roles
A home buyer should definitely attend a home inspection. There will be a lot of items covered during the inspection. If there is an issue, the inspection can show you what it looks like in person. Before the inspection, most inspectors will let you know what they will be inspecting, and at the end the inspector will give you a verbal summary with pictures that he has taken of the home. You may walk with the inspector around the house as he is inspecting the home if it’s safe to do so and ask for clarifications on your concerns.
Infared Home Inspections
Infrared home inspections allow you to see more beneath the walls of your potential new home. The technology reads air temperatures and lights up blue for cold and red for hot air. The infrared gun can detect wet spots beneath the walls and determine how efficient heating and cooling systems are running.
Should You Purchase the Home?
We have seen buyers who thought paint and reinstalling a couple of fixtures were a lot of work and backed out after the inspection. We have also seen buyers who thought tearing down a wall and remodeling the kitchen were not a big deal. What is the difference between these two buyers? It is time, experience, and sweat equity. You might have to put out the time yourself or hire a contractor. Spend the time to find a good contractor. Secondly, they have to be experienced in the work, making sure it is done correctly and up to code. Thirdly, if you are doing some of the work yourself to save costs, then there will be many weekends of staying home and rolling up your sleeves.
The information provide by Brian Group is for general informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional legal advice. Always see legal counsel within your state.