What to expect at a home inspection
As a home buyer, the home inspection is your last chance to uncover defects with the house — and potentially get the seller to pay for them — before sealing the deal.
As a seller, you want to know what the inspector will look for so you can be prepared for their visit and help everything go as smoothly as possible.
Here’s what to expect during a home inspection:
- A home inspector will look at things like a home’s foundation, structural components, roof, HVAC, plumbing, and electrical systems, then provide a written home inspection report with results
- A home inspection generally takes two to four hours, but may take more time depending on the size of the house. After the physical inspection, the home inspector may take a couple of days to send the written report
- Buyers should attend the inspection so they can explore their new home in detail and ask questions during the process. This can give you much more information than the report alone.
Don’t be concerned with the number of defects listed on your report — many will be so minor you won’t bother fixing them.
Instead, pay attention to the severity of the home’s issues. Some problems can be deal-breakers.
If serious problems turns up, talk to your home inspector and real estate agent about your best ways forward.
What do home inspectors look for?
Here’s a full list of what the inspector will review:
- Heating system
- Central air conditioning system (temperature permitting)
- Interior plumbing and electrical systems
- Attic, including visible insulation
- Windows and doors
- Structural components
Clearly, the inspector isn’t going to tear your home apart to inspect piping and wiring. But the more an inspector can access, the more complete the final report will be.
What to expect from a house inspection as the home seller
It’s in your interest as a home seller to provide quick and easy access to everything on that home inspection checklist. Here are some ways you can help:
- Leave keys (for instance, for your electrical panel), and label where the inspector can find them
- Make sure all pilot lights are on for fireplaces and furnaces, even in summer, so the inspector can check the heating and other appliances
- Tidy your basement. There needs to be an unobstructed path down the steps and through to your furnace/HVAC unit/water heater and anything else that needs inspecting
- Tidy your attic same as your basement
- Clean up key areas in your yard so the inspector can easily access your crawl space, drainage access points, or septic tank
- If the home is vacant and the utilities have been shut off, have them reconnected