Home Inspections 101



According to a study conducted by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) in 2001, 97 percent of home buyers who received home inspections believe they received a good value for their money. A home's history gives it character and charm, but also takes a toll.

Over time, roofs sag, mortar cracks, and furnaces lose efficiency. Beyond this normal wear and tear, older homes can harbor mold, water damage, termites, or other structural threats that can cost tens of thousands of dollars to fix.

New homes need inspections, too

New or old, a house isn't a car—you can't just trade in a lemon. Regardless of its similarities to neighboring structures, every home is different. Each home is build by different hands, at different times, on different land, and each responds differently as it settles. A home inspection before purchase your new home can alert you to long-term risks, identify immediate problems your builder must fix, and help you get the most from your new home warranty before it expires.

There's no such thing as a perfect home. Even if there were, it wouldn't last long. Climate, material flaws, poor workmanship, and even gravity conspire to tear every home apart. Home maintenance is a necessary cost of home ownership, but homebuyers need to make smart decisions about acceptable costs. A home inspection is the most cost-effective way to go into a purchase with your eyes open.

What they won't cover

When you schedule an inspection, have the inspector outline special conditions he or she does not cover. Lead, radon, asbestos, and other toxic substances are generally not covered, and may require an inspector with a special certification.

Inspecting the Inspector

Finding a good home inspector can take some work, but it's worth it. When you're comparing inspectors, remember TEN—Transparency, Experience, and Neutrality.


There's nothing magic about home inspection, and good inspectors will be completely forthcoming about what they look for, how, and why. If you don't understand something, ask. Professional inspectors will always answer your question to your satisfaction. Ask to see the home inspection, or better yet—go along on the inspection. It's your house, after all. If the inspector hedges, walk away. Don't be shy. Your home is worth more than their pride.


Every home inspector should have references. Call them.


Inspectors work for you, not the realtor, the owner, or a contractor. A well-established inspector will have worked with all sorts of real estate and construction professionals, but recommending those professionals is a conflict of interest.


Not all states require certifications, and a certification doesn't guarantee There are dozens of certification associations, but some of the older and larger include ASHI, the National Academy of Building Inspection Engineers, and the National Association of Home Inspectors.

by Cormac Foster

View article...