How Much Does a Home Inspection Cost? Everything You Need to Know

Posted on Jan 11, 2021


Home inspections are an incredibly important part of buying a home and should never be skipped. They can reveal issues that the current homeowner is unaware of, and often impact the final selling price of the home. Inspections are a way for both buyers and sellers to protect themselves from future liability. If you’ve never dealt with a home inspection before, you might be confused about what is or isn’t included. Here’s what you need to know. 

How much does a home inspection cost?

According to Realtor.com, an average home inspection for a single family home will cost between $300 and $500 — the current national average is $337. However, this number can vary depending on a wide range of factors, including location. Here’s the average price of a home inspection in our current markets:

  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: $436
  • Baltimore, MD: $327
  • Washington, DC: $358
  • Orlando, FL: $277

If the home includes additional features or systems, such as a barn, septic system or private well, this can increase the price of the inspection. 

Termite inspections (or Wood Destroying Organism inspections) are usually conducted separately from a normal home inspection and require a different license from a home inspector. These inspectors can check for insects such as ants and termites, as well as fungi. This inspection will take around an hour and come with an additional fee — though some inspectors do carry the additional licensure. 

What do home inspectors look for?

Home inspectors are concerned with the home’s livable condition, not whether it’s pretty or ugly. An outdated kitchen won’t make it into your inspection, but loose tiles or painted-over outlets will.

Keep in mind that the inspector is not expected to pull apart your home — while they are trained to look for subtle signs of issues, they won’t be drilling homes through your drywall to inspect the interior for mold or insects.

According to the American Society of Home Inspectors, this is what you can expect your inspector to focus on:

  • Heating system
  • Central air conditioning system 
  • Interior plumbing 
  • Electrical systems
  • Roofing
  • Insulation and ventilation
  • Fireplaces and fuel-burning appliances
  • Interior (walls, ceilings, floors, windows, etc)
  • Exterior 
  • Foundation
  • Basement
  • Structural components

Who pays for the home inspection?

Typically it is the homebuyer who pays for the inspection, and the inspection is not considered part of closing costs.

How long does a home inspection take?

On average, home inspections take two to three hours. This will depend on both the size of the house, how experienced the inspector is, and how easy it is for them to maneuver around.

What’s the biggest reason to make your offer contingent on a professional home inspection? 

In competitive markets, you may be tempted to ditch the inspection in order to make your offer more appealing to home sellers. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the inspection is your bargaining chip — and it’s a standard step in selling a home. Home inspections — even on new homes — almost always turn up something. If that something is a small issue, like a leaking faucet or a missing smoke detector, it might not matter much to you. But if the issue is a shifting foundation, HVAC issues or plumbing problems, it’s important to uncover — as repairs for these issues can potentially cost thousands of dollars.

What fixes are mandatory after an inspection?

Requirements for home sales vary state by state. Lenders often require repairs for things that could impact living conditions (like a working HVAC, the roof, renovations done without a permit, etc). Generally if there are structural, health, and regulatory concerns then repairs might be required. 

Otherwise, though, the purchase agreement between the seller and the buyer dictates which repairs need to be done. Typically when issues come up with inspection, the seller will either make the fixes before the sale, or offer a discount from the home price, leaving the buyer responsible for the repairs.

If something goes wrong with my home, is the inspector liable?

So what happens if the inspector fails to notice an issue? This is a question that comes up frequently — especially with older homes that are revealed to have problems that never came up during the home buying process. You may move in and everything is fine — only to realize a season later that the basement wall has a crack that leaks, and it might cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars to deal with. So can you sue for negligence or breach of contract?

Typically when your home is inspected, you’ll sign a contract with the inspector, and that contract will likely limit their liability (these contracts often have an exculpatory clause that limits the potential liability to the cost of the inspection). It can also be difficult to prove liability. If you don’t notice the cracked wall for six months, for example, it’s harder to prove that the damage wasn’t incurred during that time. Additionally, your inspection may include language that limits liability — potentially disclaiming areas that the inspector can’t fully access. 

In short: while you can sue your inspector, your chances of winning against them and recovering your damages are small — so it’s good to pay close attention to your inspection while it’s happening, and get a second inspection if you’re not sure about the first.

Do new homes need an inspection?

Absolutely. There’s plenty of things that can go wrong during home construction — especially when there’s multiple teams putting together your walls, plumbing, electrical, etc. Outdoors, there can be drainage issues or incorrectly applied siding; indoors, appliances may not have been installed properly, or there could be issues with the flooring. Don't assume that a newly built home is problem free!

How to choose a home inspector

Your Realtor may have recommendations for home inspectors they’ve worked with in the past: this is a good place to start.

Consumer Reports has a detailed overview of resources you can use to both find and vet home inspectors. It’s a good idea to check online for reviews of your inspector, even if they come highly recommended by your agent, a friend, or family member.

Their website notes: “Hiring someone who’s certified by a professional organization can give you a bit more assurance that the inspector is knowledgeable. Among the requirements for certification from ASHI, for instance, candidates must pass an in-person National Home Inspector Examination and document that they’ve done at least 250 paid home inspections.”

Another tip they offer: ask for a sample copy of an inspection report they’ve already conducted on a home similar to yours. This will give you a great idea of how thorough the inspection is that they conduct, as well as how good they are at communicating the issues they do find.

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