Analyze the Deal How Much Does a Home Inspection Cost?

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houses ready for a home inspection

Home inspections are a necessary expense for real estate investors.

Home inspections are crucial in identifying potential property issues that may not be visible to the naked eye. By providing comprehensive information about the property’s condition, home inspections help homebuyers make informed decisions about whether or not to purchase the property.

Home inspectors will generally cost you between $300 and $500. However, owning a larger home or requesting additional inspection services may cost you a little more. The cost also differs based on the property’s location. Whether you’re a real estate investor or an aspiring homeowner, you should consider a home inspection a necessary expense. Research shows that 86% of buyers who got their desired home inspected learned of at least one problem that required attention. 

In this post, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about your home inspection, including what it is, what inspectors look for, what you should expect to see on your final report, what items are commonly overlooked, and much more.

What is a Home Inspection?

A home inspection evaluates the condition of the property you intend to buy or sell and detects any issues that could influence the real estate transaction. During their walkthrough, professional home inspectors assess the home’s functionality. 

They examine the property’s structural elements that they have access to, including the following: 

  • Foundation: They check for diagonal cracks on interior walls, evidence of movement inside fixtures, and gaps or separations of the exterior trim.  
  • Walls, ceilings, and floors: They inspect for water damage, mold, or discoloration. They also check for cracks, sagging ceilings, and structural damage within the walls. 
  • Doors and windows: Inspectors check to see if the doors and windows were properly installed and can open and close correctly. They also look for missing caulk, cracks, and decay. 
  • Roof: Inspectors look for signs of decay, loose shingles, roof and rain gutter blocks, and any damages or problems around vents or chimneys. 
  • Attic: They will determine if your attic is properly insulated and look for water damage signs.
  • Basement: They will look for foundational issues, signs of leaks, insulation, and other damage. 
  • Garage: Inspectors look for foundation issues and roof damage, check if the garage door opens, and whether or not the automatic door opener works. They’ll also see if everything is up to code. 
  • Crawl spaces: If the home inspector can access the crawl spaces, they’ll check for signs of damage, mold, foundation issues, unwanted pests, and more. 

The home inspector will also investigate the property’s numerous systems, including:

  • HVAC system: The inspector will check the heating and cooling system to determine if it works as it should and if the ventilation functions correctly. 
  • Electrical system: They will try out all of the lights and electrical outlets to see if they work and check the wiring to see if it’s up to code. 
  • Plumbing system: They will check if all plumbing fixtures, including the faucets, shower/bath, and toilets, are working properly. They’ll also look for signs of any leaking pipes. 
  • Water heater: They will inspect the water heater’s base for signs of damage or wear and the installation date to determine when it needs to be replaced.
  • Appliances: The inspector will check out the home’s numerous appliances, including the oven, stove, range, fridge, freezer, dishwasher, microwave, hood, washer, and dryer, to see if they’re all in working order.

In addition, the home inspector will also inspect the fixtures and finishes of the residence, such as the cabinets, drawers, countertops, and tiled floors, to ensure they are in good condition.

Things That Home Inspectors Might Look For

The home inspection may also include elements related to the age of the home, like lead paint or mold that is not visible. If the home inspector believes there are more potential problems with the property, you might want to commission additional home inspections for specialists regarding the possibility of the following:

  • Asbestos: A mineral fiber that was once used in many building materials that can cause health problems when airborne.
  • Mold: A type of fungus that grows in damp and humid conditions and can lead to health issues and damage to the property.
  • Lead paint: Paint containing lead can be harmful when ingested or inhaled, especially for children.
  • Lead piping: Water pipes made using lead that can contaminate drinking water and pose health risks.
  • Termite infestations: A termite infestation can cause significant damage to the property’s structure and decrease its value.
  • Radon: A colorless and odorless gas that can seep into buildings from the soil and cause lung cancer.
  • Water damage: Damage caused by water, such as leaks or flooding, can lead to mold growth and structural damage.
  • Additional safety concerns: Other potential hazards that could affect the property’s and its occupants’ safety, such as faulty wiring or missing smoke detectors.

Some professional home inspectors offer one or more of these additional services if they believe the property is at risk.

Normal Rates for Home Inspections

A general home inspection will cost you between $300 and $500. If the results of your inspection report suggest that specialized inspections are needed, you may need to spend more. The average price of some of these inspections varies. Here’s a list of the average prices for specialized inspections in Washington State:

  • Radon: $145 – $700
  • Asbestos: $229 – $791
  • Mold: $200 – $1,000
  • Lead-based paint: $250 – $700
  • Chimney: $300 – $600
  • Soil: $700 – $2,000
  • Termites and other wood-destroying organisms: $230 – $930

While paying for extra inspections isn’t ideal, they’re a drop in the bucket for buyers considering purchasing homes that cost five, six, or even seven figures.

The Age of Your Home and How It Impacts the Inspection

When the U.S. Census Bureau conducted a 2019 American Community Survey, they found that 37% of U.S. homeowners live in houses over 50 years old—an increase of 7% since the same survey was conducted in 2009.

Older homes tend to cost less but frequently require more repairs and upgrades, even if some home improvements have already been made. Whether your home is 50 or over 200 years old, there are several things professional home inspectors should pay close attention to:

Old pipes

Sometimes the pipes are as old as the homes themselves. Old pipes can cause rust issues and even introduce lead into the water. 

Lead paint

Even small levels of lead paint exposure can harm you. It can cause headaches, dizziness, fatigue, memory loss, high blood pressure, and diminished motor skills in adults. In children, it can also lead to learning disabilities and behavioral issues. 

Mold colonies

Mold colonies can be common in old homes, especially in areas with high humidity. Some mold-related health problems include allergic reactions, irritations of the eye, nose, and throat, asthma episodes, and other respiratory issues. 

Outdated wiring

Electrical wiring standards have changed a lot in recent years. Outdated electrical systems can make your home unsafe. 


Aging foundations can be damaged by tree roots growing underneath the property, water, termites, and other unwanted pests that have made the house their home.


Squeaky floorboards are commonplace, but it’s better to be safe than sorry in an older home. If your floors are sagging or tilted, it could be due to water damage. Inspectors should also pay close attention to the basement, attic, ceiling, and roof for similar signs. 

Structural issues

Older homes may have structural issues such as settling or warping that can lead to safety hazards.

How Your Home Size May Factor Into a Home Inspection

The square footage of a home also impacts the cost of a professional home inspection. After all, the more square feet, the more there is to inspect, and the longer it takes a professional to walk through a residence and test everything they need for a comprehensive report of their findings. 

While actual rates vary by inspector and market, here’s the average cost for most home inspection costs based on square feet:

House sizes (sq ft)Cost
1,000$250 – $300
1,400$350 – $400
1,800$450 – $500
2,200$550 – $600
2,600$650 – $700

Sometimes, these costs are determined by the following metrics, but keep in mind that inspectors can use different calculations:

  • The inspector’s base fee
  • The square footage of a home
  • Driving distance from their office to the home
  • Age of the home

What Should the Final Home Inspection Report Include?

Your inspection report is a comprehensive document summarizing the inspector’s findings during the inspection. It should include general information and inspection details that accurately depict the property’s condition. 

Some examples of the information that should be included are:

  • Property address
  • Date of inspection
  • Report ID #
  • Customer (name of the buyer or seller who requested the inspection)
  • Time of inspection
  • Real estate agent
  • Who was in attendance
  • Building type
  • Approximate age of the building
  • Temperature
  • Weather (rainy, clear, etc.)
  • Ground and soil surface condition
  • Did it rain in the last three days
  • Was there a radon test?
  • Was there a water test?

There are also going to be four types of comment descriptions present in the report:

  1. Inspected (IN): The inspector visually observed the unit, item, or component, which appeared to be functioning as intended, allowing for general wear and tear.
  2. Not Inspected (NI): The inspector did not inspect the unit, item, or component. If they didn’t check to see if it functions as intended, they will state their reason for not inspecting it (e.g., they could not access the roof). 
  3. Not Present (NP): The unit, item, or component is not in the property. 
  4. Repair or Replace (RR): The unit, item, or component is not functioning as it should or needs further inspection by a qualified contractor. If they can be repaired to functioning and satisfactory condition, they may not need to be replaced. 

The rest of the report breaks down each component inspected based on the four descriptions above, complete with comments, photos, and videos. To see it in action, here’s a sample home inspection report.

Finding Water Damage

Water damage and moisture issues can be anything from a pipe leak to a foundation issue. However, if not taken care of promptly, it can lead to mold growth and cause further structural damage. 

If the home inspection report finds water damage or moisture issues, it’s not usually a deal breaker. Once the homeowner hires a water mitigation company to address the damage and prevent further problems, the issue is usually resolved. The cost of water damage varies significantly based on the extent of it. Even if it’s a hefty price tag, it’s worth paying for if it means your health is at risk and circumventing your real estate transaction.

Electrical Systems Inspections

Your home’s electrical system is essential for everyday functions, like providing power to every nook and cranny of your living space. It also powers your major appliances, water heater, and heating and cooling systems. If your inspection report requires hiring an electrical inspector, this will usually cost you around $200, depending on your home type, size, and location. 

Electrical inspectors check every aspect of a house’s electrical system. During the inspection, they’ll check your home’s wiring, outlets, circuit breakers, and electrical panels. Often, they’ll also make sure the house is in code compliance. This is especially important because home electrical fires cause approximately 51,000 fires annually, resulting in nearly 500 deaths, more than 1,400 injuries, and roughly $1.3 billion in property damage.

Roof Condition Inspections

You do not want to move into a new home to discover that it has extensive roof damage. HomeAdvisor estimates that the average cost of a roof inspection is between $121 and $323. During the inspection, they’ll look for the following:

  • Broken or missing shingles
  • Broken shingles stuck in your gutters
  • Leaks and cracks
  • Moss or plant growth
  • Sagging and drooping

After the inspection, your roof inspector can suggest repairs needed to prevent further damage if any is found or if your roof has a leak or poor drainage.

Plumbing System Inspections

Plumbing inspectors take a comprehensive look at your home’s plumbing system. They examine:

  • Sinks and faucets
  • Showers and bathtubs
  • Toilets
  • Water heaters
  • Hose bibs
  • Interior and exterior plumbing pipes, including sewage lines and supply lines
  • Septic tank

There are two types of plumbing inspections: a visual inspection and a camera inspection. During a visual inspection, the plumber checks all water, sewer fittings, and drainage systems. A camera inspection involves using a tiny, high-res camera to inspect the insides of pipes for issues in sewage or supply lines. They can also detect signs of future drain blockage. 

The average cost of a plumbing inspection is usually around $200. If you need both a visual and camera inspection, it may cost closer to $300.

Inspecting the Overall Construction of Your Home

Even if your home is newly constructed, you should hire a home inspector. Brand-new homes have issues, too, sometimes because they’re brand new. It’s common for contractors to work fast to meet deadlines, subcontract to other vendors, or do the bare minimum to meet code compliance. Even if your contractors did a stellar job, you won’t know unless you have a professional inspector do a walkthrough. 

Newly constructed homes can have various issues, including:

  • Grading and drainage issues
  • Cracks in drywall
  • Cracks in the driveway and sidewalks
  • Water issues
  • Flooring issues
  • Doors that stick shut
  • Improperly installed appliances
  • And much, much more

How Much Does a Home Inspection Cost: FAQs

Do you still have questions about home inspections? Here are the answers to some of the most common questions:

What does your home inspector need to begin?

Requirements to become a certified home inspector can vary from state to state. For example, home inspectors must take a 120-hour home inspector training course in Washington State. Then they need an additional 40 hours of field training and five actual inspections under the guidance of a mentor from the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI).

What should you do to prepare for your home inspection?

It’s to your benefit that your home inspector can check as much of your residence as possible. Here’s a short checklist of things you should do to save time and get the most out of your inspection:

  • Clean your home and make everything accessible, including your basement, attic, roof, space beneath your sink, laundry room, crawl space, etc. You want your report to have as few NIs as possible. 
  • Replace dead light bulbs. Blown bulbs indicate one of two things to a home inspector: either the bulb is dead, or there’s an issue with the fixture’s wiring. Save them time by replacing the bulb.
  • Properly label the fuse box, and replace any labels that are incorrect or hard to read. Once again, this will save the inspector time.  
  • Check your doors and windows to ensure they’re opening and closing easily. Don’t forget to check the doors on your cabinets and appliances. 
  • Make any repairs you know are necessary ahead of time, whether it’s a leaky faucet or a faulty cabinet. 
  • Do a walkthrough before the inspector arrives and write down a list of questions you want them to answer.
  • Trim any overgrown bushes or trees blocking access to parts of your home, such as the roof or siding. 

Should you have your new home inspected before buying

Absolutely! General inspections only cost between $300 and $500 and can save you from inheriting problems that can cost you a 100x that amount.

What does an inspection reveal about the average home?

Home inspectors reveal the home’s condition and help determine if any repairs or renovations are necessary. If they aren’t, then the real estate transaction can continue. If they are and the buyer has a contingency in place, the seller will be required to make the repairs outlined in the home inspection; otherwise, the buyer can walk away from the deal. 

What items are commonly overlooked in home inspections?

Unfortunately, not all home inspectors are equally excellent at their jobs. Also, some of them check for things that others do not. Here are some of the most common things home inspectors overlook:

  • Roof leaks: If your inspector doesn’t climb onto the roof, they won’t likely see any leaks or holes in it. 
  • HVACs: Home inspectors will typically test them to see if they run correctly, but they don’t play with them too much in case they accidentally push them beyond their limits. 
  • Lead paint: If the home is older than 1978, there’s a chance it could have lead paint. A visual inspection won’t indicate to a home inspector whether or not the paint is lead. 
  • Drains: Home inspectors may run water through the drains for a few minutes. However, that’s not enough time to determine if there’s a major problem, such as sewer line damage or obstruction. 
  • Mold and mildew: Not all mold and mildew are noticeable; thus, an inspector can miss it. 
  • Flooring issues: Home inspectors can assess for obvious damage and wear and tear, but they don’t usually inspect the padding beneath the floor. 
  • Internal leaks: These leaks are easy to miss, especially if the home has been vacant and the water hasn’t been running.

Be SMARTER About Your Home Inspector

BiggerPockets’ SMARTER Real Estate Investing System helps ordinary people like you build wealth through real estate, which includes providing you with tips for how to prepare for a home inspection and how to find a professional home inspector.

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