What is a home inspection? Not to be confused with a home appraisal, a home inspection is a visual analysis of the condition of a house conducted by a professional home inspector. The inspector then produces a report on the current state of the subject property.
Though not mandatory, the buyer of the property is responsible for ordering a home inspection after the seller accepts their offer. Depending on the terms of the purchase agreement, most will contain a contingency period for a buyer to back out of an accepted offer due to the results of a home inspection. The report is useful for either providing peace of mind for the buyer or by providing a helpful tool for renegotiation should the inspection uncover items of significant concern.
If you are wondering, or if you have ever been asked: What is a home inspection? The answer should fall into alignment with the following:
A home inspection typically includes an overview of the condition of the heating and ventilation equipment including central air conditioning as well as whatever form of heating is available
It will consist of an analysis of the plumbing (interior) systems, electrical systems, roof condition, and will specifically cover walls, floors, ceilings, doors, windows, the attic, possibly visible insulation, as well as the basement and any remaining structural elements. It is a non-invasive procedure and will not include the permanent dismantling or destruction of fixtures or the property itself.
Maintaining a license is not a requirement for home inspectors in all states, so finding someone with training, experience, and reliable references is in the best interest of obtaining a thorough report. Inspectors can give an idea of potential problems, solutions, and should be able to warn the current or future homeowner about potentially avoidable issues.
The report should contain information on the current or upcoming need for repairs that may be expected but could have gone otherwise unnoticed. A good home inspector will understand how different systems and components work together and how they affect one another. They will be able to point out simple, necessary or even dramatic repairs that require attention to avoid damage and additional expenses.
If you do not have direct recommendations of specific home inspectors, you can always find a reference from the nonprofit American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) at the following link. They also publish a Standards of Practice index to help set consumer expectations here.