Do You Need a Home Inspection?


by Marcus Pickett

Home inspectors are the wide-angle lens for the condition of your home. Whether it's part of putting your home on the market, searching for a dream home that's in dream condition, or just for your home maintenance and peace-of-mind, home inspectors are one of the most underused home improvement professionals. As you look through these different home inspection applications, keep in mind that the average cost of a professional inspection is $324, while the information in these evaluations can save you thousands, even tens of thousands, of dollars.

Home Inspections and Putting a House on the Market

In today's real estate market, home inspection services are vital to both seller and buyer. Foreclosed or distressed homes are seen as being in inferior condition, often justifiably so. If you don't have the money to pay your mortgage, you're probably not keeping up on your home maintenance, either. Home inspections are one of the best and only forms of quality-control when it comes to buying a property. You can't return a home for a refund 30 days after the final closing.

For Sellers:

You need to do whatever you can to distance your property from the rundown properties being sold at fire-sale prices. At bank auctions, prospective buyers may not even be allowed to view the home's interior before making a bid. One of the few advantages you have in this market is the condition of your home. A home inspection should be a strong selling point and should help you bolster your final selling price.

For Buyers:

Most people know enough to avoid buying a house that doesn't have a certified home inspection, but you may not fully trust your seller's inspection. Many home inspectors will field questions about their inspection write-up, so it's never a bad idea to talk to the inspector in person. If you're still not satisfied, you can hire your own, independent home inspector.

Home Inspections and Home Maintenance

Many people believe home inspections are meant solely for the purposes of selling a home, but they can play a vital role in home maintenance as well. Home inspectors can tell you everything from how many years you can expect from heating and cooling system to areas where an energy-efficient upgrade can pay for itself in just a few years. They can identify places in your roof that have grown weak and vulnerable over the years. They can assess your home's moisture level, potential areas of water damage, and susceptibility to mold. They can evaluate your home's foundation and its possible role in cracked drywall and warped window casements. You can also find home inspectors who specialize in certain areas, such as roofing or energy audits. Wherever you think your home maintenance may be lacking or in question, you can find a qualified inspector to give you an honest and expert opinion.

Complete Your Own Home Inspection

Simply can't find the money to hire a qualified home inspector? Well, not much can be done for the real estate side of things, but you can conduct your own home maintenance inspection. Focus on trying to get a good look at your roof, review your home warranties and the remaining life expectancy of your major appliances, and take a look at your windows, doors, and insulation for opportunities to make your home more energy efficient. Testing kits aren't a bad idea, either. For just a few dollars, you can find kits that will test your home for mold, radon, common allergens, and other indoor air pollutants.

You might also be able to find free home inspection services. Roofing inspectors may offer free inspections during the off-season in the hope of drumming up business, although you should be wary of exaggerated, misleading, or false evaluations. Moreover, the federal government offers free energy audits to qualifying homeowners through its Weatherization Assistance Program (The economic stimulus package expanded this program to cover more homeowners.)

Learn more about DIY Home Inspection.

To see all the things you should make sure your home inspection covers, read through these Home Inspection Questions.

-- Marcus Pickett is a senior home improvement writer with He has written more than 1200 articles on managing your home and home improvement trends.