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What is a home inspection?

What goes into a home inspection, and why you need it

After you’ve made an offer on a home, it’s in your best interest to get a home inspection. A home inspection gives you a picture of the home’s condition and determines if any repairs may be needed.

It can also tell you if the home has significant problems that might affect the price you are willing to pay for the home or your decision to purchase it. Many homebuyers make their offer conditional on the results of a home inspection that shows the home is in reasonably good condition.

What to look for when scheduling a home inspection

Look for an inspector who is known for being thorough via recommendations and/or online reviews. A good home inspection will leave no surprises for you to find when you move in. You should receive a report—in writing—from your home inspector that details their findings. This report should include a list of everything the inspector checked, as well as their conclusions. Your inspector may want to review the seller’s real estate disclosures, as well.

Home inspection checklist for buyers

A complete home inspection checklist covers the property surrounding the home, in addition to the house itself. The inspection should cover every room and look for leaks, mold, or other major problems. When you’re looking for a home inspector, you should ask about what their inspection covers. The basic categories are:

  • Interior: walls, ceilings, floors, stairs, bathrooms, fireplaces, appliances, attics, basements, and more
  • Exterior: roof, windows, doors, foundation, and more
  • Systems: plumbing, electricity, HVAC
  • Grounds: driveway, lawn/backyard, porch/patio

How long does a home inspection take?

The length of a home inspection varies, depending on the size of the home and the surrounding property. At a minimum, plan for at least two hours if you’re interested in a larger home.

How much does a home inspection cost?

An average home inspection can range anywhere between $300 to $500, according to The price can depend on the inspector and the size of the home, where you live in the U.S., and other factors.

Who pays for a home inspection?

The buyer typically pays for the home inspection. The results of a home inspection can give you negotiating power on the sale, so it is to your benefit if the home inspector is accountable to you.

Home inspection vs. home appraisal

Home appraisals evaluate the value of the home. They typically include property details like floor plans and square footage. While home inspections are focused on the condition of the home, a major problem found in a home inspection can impact the home’s value.

Last reviewed and updated April 2024 by Freedom Mortgage.

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