How Much Does a Home Inspection Cost?

By Deanna Kane

According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the average home inspection cost is between $300 and $500. This estimate can fluctuate based on factors like the square footage of your home, how old the house is, the inspector’s experience level, and the inclusion of additional inspections, such as radon or mold testing.

Square footage

Some inspectors charge by the square footage of the house while others charge by the hour. Regardless of which method is used, a larger house will result in higher home inspection costs. Comparing a single-family home and a two-bedroom condo, the single-family home would cost more to inspect because of its size.

Cost and age of your home

Home values, which are largely driven by location, can also impact your home inspection cost, as higher priced homes are typically larger in size. Older homes may also require a more thorough inspection due to the age of the structure. Inspectors will spend more time looking at any repairs or additions that have been made over the years.

Inspector’s experience level

An experienced inspector with a residential construction background may be more expensive than an inspector who is a few years into the field. The experienced inspector’s knowledge and expertise may prove to be invaluable when discovering a foundation issue that only a highly trained eye can see.

Many reputable inspectors are certified home inspectors who belong to trade associations that hold their members to certain professional standards through membership qualifications and education requirements. HUD doesn’t regulate inspectors, so staying away from the most inexpensive inspector is smart. The least expensive home inspector may save you a few hundred dollars in the short-term, but you could end up facing thousands of dollars of home repairs in the future.

Note: The cost of your home inspection won’t follow a one-size-fits-all pricing structure. Because there’s no standard for home inspection pricing, it’s important to understand how inspectors structure their home inspection costs.

Specialized home inspection costs you should be aware of

There are several additional tests that are strongly recommended and not included in the standard home inspection report and inspector’s base fee. Below are a few specialized tests to consider adding to your inspection:

  • Radon—According to the EPA, breathing in even the smallest amounts of radon can lead to lung cancer. Prioritize radon testing in your home inspection and avoid moving into a contaminated home.
  • Asbestos—Asbestos is mainly a concern in older homes. It was banned in the U.S. in the 1970s due to findings that it causes mesothelioma, so any houses built prior to this period should be checked.
  • Mold—Different strains of mold can be extremely hazardous to your health and can be even more dangerous to those who are allergic to mold. Have your home inspector run a mold test to ensure there isn’t any present in your home.
  • Lead—Lead paint was banned in 1978 and lead pipes were banned in the 1980s, so homes built prior to these periods should be tested. 
  • Sewer scope—This test is beneficial for older homes that have pipes blocked by tree roots. This type of blockage can cause flooding, often in septic systems, which can result in extensive damage to a house.    
  • Additional tests—Ask your inspector if all areas of the property are included in the home inspection cost. For example, a detached garage and a swimming pool typically aren’t considered part of the home’s structure and won’t be included in a standard home inspection.

What’s a pre-inspection and how much does it cost?

A pre-inspection is an inspection conducted prior to the buyer making an offer. The inspector completes the same process and has the same pricing structure as a regular home inspection. 

A pre-inspection can be done in a highly competitive market when buyers want their offers to stand out by eliminating the inspection contingency from the offer. It can also save the headaches of rescinding an offer following a poor inspection report.

Any issues found during the home inspection can help you structure a well-informed offer or force you to walk away if there are too many issues with the house. The one drawback to the pre-inspection is that the seller may not accept your offer, so you could be out the inspection fee.

What’s included in a home inspection?

A standard home inspection includes checking the basic structure and inner workings of the house. An inspector will check for safety concerns and damage and should provide you with a report of any issues and related photos.

During a home inspection, an inspector will typically assess:

  • Electrical system
  • Plumbing
  • HVAC
  • Roof
  • Insulation
  • Water heater
  • Foundation
  • Fireplaces
  • Exterior structure (such as the siding or brick)
  • Interior structure (such as walls and supports)

Note: The buyer should always be the party to hire a home inspector. This ensures the inspector is working for the buyer and that the report doesn’t omit any issues the seller may not want to disclose.

What to expect after the inspection

As a buyer, your real estate agent will use the findings from your home inspection report as you finalize negotiations and might request that the seller make the repairs (which the seller might do if they’re motivated to sell).

The seller may also offer concessions, which means they will reduce the selling price by the dollar amount of certain repair costs; then, it’s up to the buyer to make the necessary repairs, either through a professional contractor or on their own. Whether or not the home inspection is included in closing costs is specific to your particular negotiation strategy.

Common repairs needed

Once your home inspection report is conclusive, you might see one or more of the following issues pop up:

  1. Clogged gutters—Though minor, having a clogged gutter can impact water flow away from your house. This can be remedied with simple preventative maintenance or splash pans to divert run-off.
  2. Poor ventilation—This issue can lead to mold growth and respiratory issues. One quick fix is to make sure the kitchen and bathrooms are properly ventilated with fans. A deeper dive into the issue may reveal that your roof needs more vents.
  3. Faulty wiring—Typically, faulty wiring (exposed electrical wiring or extension cords connecting rooms) can be found in older homes. This issue is considered a fire hazard and should be addressed immediately.
  4. Roof problems—If there are broken or missing shingles, you’ll want to replace them as soon as possible to prevent water from seeping into your home.
  5. Foundation issues—If there are cracks or holes in the foundation (possibly from flood damage or old age), sealing them with caulk and waterproofing them can prevent water from seeping in and creating more structural damage.

How home inspections can save you money

While a home inspection isn’t required, there’s no downside to having one conducted. If you forego an inspection, you could face a slew of home issues that require costly repairs after you’ve purchased the house. Once the closing papers are signed and the house is officially yours, the last thing you want to discover is mold in the walls, electric wiring that’s not up to code, lead pipes, or other serious issues.

Resolving these issues could cost thousands of dollars to fix, when it could have been resolved during the home inspection process prior to closing.

Questions to ask your home inspector

Asking the right questions prior to hiring an inspector can ensure you understand the process, pricing structure, and inspection findings. The below questions can serve as a guide when you start interviewing inspectors.

How much does a home inspection cost?

You should expect to pay between $300–$500 for a home inspection. The price may vary based on other inspection fees and addition inspection tests.

What does a home inspection cover?

In addition to the following list of items inspectors should assess, they should also be knowledgeable about any required state inspection guidelines:

    • Electrical system
    • Plumbing
    • HVAC
    • Roof
    • Insulation
    • Water heater
    • Foundation
    • Fireplaces
    • Exterior structure (such as the siding or brick)
    • Interior structure (such as walls and supports)

If you have any other areas of concern not listed, tell your inspector you want these included in the report.

How long will a home inspection take?

An inspection should take approximately three hours depending on the size and age of the home. You should plan on attending the inspection, so you’re aware of any issues the inspector finds.

What should I look for in the home inspection report?

The home inspection report should be sent to you within one day of the inspection. Ask the inspector to see a sample report, so you can understand in advance what will be checked and can be prepared to ask specific questions.

How much experience do you have with home inspections?

This should be a question inspectors are used to answering. They should be able to provide you with references, qualifications, and experience in residential inspections.

What should I know before signing a contract?

A home inspection contract will detail the terms of payment, scope of work, permission to discuss findings, and more. Signing a contract is in both parties’ best interests.

Is a home inspection worth it?

Yes. Since buying a home is a large investment, spending a few hundred dollars on a home inspection is the best insurance you can purchase to ensure you won’t run into costly home issues in the future.

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