A home inspection checklist helps you interview and select the best home inspector for you and your property. Home inspection aren't just a formality. A home inspection is a very important step in buying a house, or preparing to sell your home.
Buyers need the best inspection possible as once you own a house, you own all the problems that come with it. A home inspection report explains what you're buying, which is critical for buyers without the knowledge or experience to understand the condition of the house they're buying. And even if you have the experience, a home inspection reports offers the opinion of someone not emotionally involved in the purchase.
Home inspectors inspect everything from the roof, siding and foundation outside, to the kitchen appliances, plumbing and heating system inside (learn more about what's covered in a home inspection). They need comprehensive training to understand all these home components and they learn where most problems are found in a home. They use a home inspection checklist to be sure they don't forget anything … and that's why we're giving you this checklist, to make sure you ask the right questions when picking your home inspector!
Who Develops the Home Inspection Checklist
While your home inspector can only review what's visible, they should inspect all home systems and materials to identify any problems with the home due to normal aging and/or lack of routine home maintenance. For example, I was recently asked for the maintenance log for my sister's furnace and there wasn't one? The furnace was replaced two years ago and it's not my home, and I never added the annual tune-up to my personal calendar – it's there now.
Some states require home inspectors to be licensed but many do not. A better way to verify that your home inspector is committed to their profession is verifying active membership in a professional association, which sets standards for members and provides continuing education.
- National Association of Home Inspectors (NAHI.org)
- American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI.org)
- International Association of Home Inspectors (NACHI.org)
If you're curious about the level of detail covered in a home inspection, take a look at this How To Inspect Series from the NAHI for inspecting appliances. Most home inspectors now use software that gives them with a comprehensive home inspection checklist.
Home Inspection Checklist to Find a Home Inspector
The biggest question you need to answer is … are you comfortable interacting with the home inspector? For example, you should be able to ask questions and get answers you understand. You should also be able to request and get sample documentation before your inspection, from a sample report (illustrating their home inspection checklist) to the inspector's code of ethics.
Here are the questions you'll want to ask the home inspector before scheduling the inspection.
- How much experience do you have with residential home inspections in your area? They should describe their background, training and what's known as “continuing education” to stay current with changes in home construction. They should also tell you the number of years they've been inspecting homes and a rough estimate of the number of residential inspections they've completed.
Home Inspection Checklist with Questions for the Inspector
- How long does an inspection take and can you attend the inspection? Inspections can take two to three hours for a single family house. Time will vary based on the size of the house and it's condition, e.g. more problems require time writing up a description of what they find that's outside normal wear and tear.
- Can you participate in the home inspection? Joining the home inspector for your inspection is an incredible educational opportunity you don't want to miss. If the inspector doesn't allow this, and some don't because this extends the time an inspection will take, you should find someone else.
- What type of inspection report do you provide? Reviewing a sample home inspection report before your inspection will help you identify specific questions you have. Write them down so you don't forget to ask them during the inspection, as they might not be covered by the standard home inspection checklist.
- How long before I get the home inspection report? Most home inspectors today will enter their comments into a computer program (see photo), which makes it easy for them to provide your report in 24 hours.
- How much does a home inspection cost? The cost, typically between $300 and $500, varies depending on where the house is, it's size and age, plus other services you may request. Focus on the qualifications, not the cost because cost doesn't always reflect quality. Pricing is not regulated by government agencies.
When Home Repairs Might Be a Conflict of Interest
Most home inspectors only do inspections, even if they have a contractor or handyman background. Some home inspector associations and/or state regulations allow inspectors to repair problems found while other associations and regulations strictly forbid this as a conflict of interest.
For a home inspection horror story and why you want to avoid any conflict of interest, click here …