Do You Need a Home Inspection When Buying a House

Updated: May 30, 2020

What is a home inspection

A home inspection is a visual check of the home and its basic systems to check for issues. Although home inspections aren't necessary they are highly advised so you don't end up with a surprise and you can even end up saving money asking for a lower sale price. It is advised that you join your home inspector through the home inspection so you can ask questions as you go. This will give you a better understanding of the issues than the inspection report on its own. Your home inspector will look for structural issues, functioning appliances and look for a variety of safety issues. Your new home likely dozens of issues, as no home is perfect. You and your real estate agent will review the home inspection report together to help identify major problems. We will then use your home inspection contingency to have the sellers fix the issues or reduce the price of the home. With a good inspector you will be able to move in with peace of mind avoiding potential problems.

House with inspection glass

What does a home inspection look for

The home inspection process covers a variety problems both inside and outside of the home. This includes checking the floors, walls, ceilings and more to search for water damage, cracks and more The home inspector however will not move furniture so it is important to have the house ready when they arrive.

Outside Structure

The home inspector will walk around the outside of the home and check for any structural damage. These could include a cracked foundation, ensuring that the ground is slopes properly for water to runoff away from the home, to the sidewalk and driveway. Sprinkler systems will be turned on to ensure they have pressure and cover the proper areas. They will also generally check the fence if you have one and ensure it is complete all the way around.

Roof and Attic

Roofing is something that can quickly get expense and will cost $6,000 to $12,000 to replace. The home inspector should check the attic as well as going on top of the roof and check the shingles to ensure they aren't curling, missing or loose.

Interior Structure

The home inspector will check the floors, walls, ceilings and more to search for water damage, cracks and more. The home inspector however will not move furniture or other things so it can be important to have all of this previously moved.


The home inspector will walk through the basement or crawlspace to evaluate signs of water damage or blatant structural damage. If you have additional concerns such as if you live in a neighborhood that has poor soil, it may be worth hiring an additional foundation inspection.


Your home inspector will check to ensure the garage door opens properly, the floor slopes to allow water drainage and double check that there is no structural issues.


Throughout the inspection process, the inspector will check the appliances that are included with the home sale. This includes checking the burners on the stove, verifying the refrigerator can hold temperature and turning on the microwave.


During the inspection the furnace will be tested and inspected to ensure it is working and properly circulating air. The air conditioning unit will also be tested assuming it is greater than 60 degrees outside, if it too cold the air conditioning unit could become damaged. HVAC systems can cost upwards of $4000 to replace the furnace and $3500 for the air conditioner.

Electrical System

During the home inspection, the main breaker box will be checked along with a multitude of outlets and light sockets.

Plumbing System

During the plumbing system inspection, the home inspector will check the main water shutoff, sink faucets and the water heater.

Plumbing Fixture

Additional home inspection costs

home inspectors themselves generally don't complete the following tasks, although many have subcontractors that they will work with to have these checks completed. If hired through your home inspector for an additional cost, they will generally come at the same time to get the new home thoroughly inspected. It is important to have a great Realtor®  as they can help save you money by identifying likely problems in your area and homes construction date.


Radon is a natural radioactive gas that seeps through the ground and can cause lung cancer. It is prevalent depending on your geographical region throughout the United States. For those purchasing near Denver it is highly recommended to complete this test. Expect to spend around $150 for this service.

Sewer Line

As a home owner you are responsible for the sewer line going from the house to the street. Sewer line replacements can cost $3,000-$25,000 or even more depending on what has to be dug up to access the problem area. Before purchasing a home it is advised to have a sewer scope completed. This process has a camera that is run through the line until it reaches the street and checks for any standing water, cracks or roots that have found themselves in the system. Luckily there is new technology that can reline the sewer which is significantly cheaper than a full replacement. A sewer scope will generally cost around $150.

Termites and Pests

Most home inspectors if they notice an obvious pest issue they will bring it up however if it is a major concern you can usually add on an extra fee to have a detailed review looking at boards for bite marks and a detailed look at lots of places termites and pests like to hide in. This is necessary for a VA loan and usually costs around $100.


Asbestos is a fungus that used to be used for a plethora of fire and insulation uses but was banned from household uses in 1977. When asbestos is agitated and breathed into the lungs it can cause lung cancer. This additional inspection can cause $400-$800 and removal costs can get expensive depending on the extent of use.

Lead piping and paint

Lead paint was banned in the United States in 1978, if you are purchasing a older home before this date or even slightly after, there is a chance that your home still has lead paint. If you see paint that is peeling like alligator skin you can purchase a test from your local hardware store. If this is a major concern of yours or you have found things that heighten your suspicions, there are specialized lead inspectors you can hire who will use x-rays to ensure there is nothing covered up. The average cost for one of these tests is $350.


Mold can cause health issues and due to humidity may be more prevalent in some parts of the country more than others. These tests can be expensive running upwards of $800.


If the new home has a chimney, some home inspectors will check it others will not. If they do not you will need to hire a chimney inspector at a cost of around $100-$200.

Well Water and Septic

If your new home is supplied by a well it is important to have it tested for a variety of heavy metals. If the new home also has a septic tank it is also important to verify that it isn't contaminated and is large enough to meet the expected amount of people living in the home.

How much does a home inspection cost

Home inspections are generally paid for by the home buyer. The general cost for a home is $400-500 with additional charges if you want additional inspections not included.

How long does a home inspection take

Home inspections generally will take 2-4 hours, this depends mainly on the size of the home but also how many issues are found. It is suggested for the home buyer to be there for the home inspection to fully understand the depth of the issues themselves.

Do Home Inspectors always find something wrong?

Home inspectors do a thorough job and no home including new builds is perfect so in short yes a home inspector will always find something wrong. It is important to be mindful of the major problems as many of the minor issues people have been living with for years and have no effect on their day to day living.

What to look for in a home inspector

A professional home inspector should be certified through the American society of home inspectors (ASHI). This however is not a requirement in most states including Colorado, so it is important to check verify this before choosing who you hire.

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