“How much does a home inspection cost?” is one of the most frequently asked questions from prospective home buyers. The bad news is we can’t give you the exact cost of home inspection procedures in your area, since they vary based on the state of the property, the presence of a pest infestation, the size of the home, as well as any extra features (wells, septic systems, barns, etc.). The good news is that it’s not that hard to find out the answer to the more specific question of “how much is a home inspection in my area?” Costs will vary widely from one region to the next: in Austin TX the average cost is $452, while in NYC, they’re $1,025. However, they typically sit at around $470, should be expected to cost anywhere between $375 and $550, and, for larger homes, can go up to $5-600.
The cursory home inspection checklist
While the list below is by no means exhaustive and could never replace the presence of an actual certified home inspector, we believe it may come in handy during a preliminary pillar to post home inspection. The questions below have been organized by problem category and seek to help you spot frequent problem areas. You can always print them out and bring them along on one of your first visits to the home you’re interested in buying. We do not recommend going through this list for every house you look at.
- Is the drainage properly situated (i.e. at a distance from the home itself)?
- Is there any standing water on the grounds? (Also check for septic tank leakage, if applicable)
- Are the landscaping and trees in good condition? Any branches and bushes hanging on the roof, scraping the walls, or touching the house?
- Is the stonework (alleys, walkways, driveways, landings, patios) in good condition? Especially check out patio and staircase railings.
- Are the exterior structures (sheds, decks, garages, retaining walls) in good condition, or do they look rotting/damaged in any other way?
- Look for straight lines in the: fascia board, ridge, home sides, windows, foundation, and door sides. See any bows or sags?
- Is the foundation cracked?
- Look for cracks: closely inspect the siding, the masonry, and the stucco. Note that while some cracks in the stucco can be expected, they should be addressed and assessed professionally.
- Look for stains and flaking: wall paint, siding, and any other exterior surface.
- Inspect the siding: wood should be at least 6” off the ground, while vinyl and aluminum should not bow, sag, or be dented.
Are there any vines on the exterior walls?
Windows and doors
- Are the frames secure, with caulked joints?
- Are there any broken windows, screens, or seals?
- Is the glass used thermal or storm proof?
- Are the vents clean and cleared?
- Are the chimneys straight and in good condition?
- Are the soffits and fascia stained or cracked?
- For composite roofs: look for curling, cupping, missing shingles, and more than two layers or roofing.
- For wooden roofs: look for decay, rot, mold, cracks, and curling.
- For straight roofs: look for blisters, wrinkles, silt deposit, patches, and sealed flashing.
- Check for: proper insulation, proper ventilation, damage to the home’s structure, and under-roof penetration.
- No exhausts or open electrical splices should be in the attic.
- Check the walls and ceilings: are they straight and flush? Any stains or cracks? Are the walls properly painted, covered, and/or paneled?
- Are the floors in good condition?
- Are all windows and doors in good condition (latched, easy to open and close, not stained, etc.)?
- Does each room have working electric switches and outlets?
- Are all rooms properly insulated, cooled, and heated?
- Is it properly ventilated to the outside?
- Does it have GFI for the outlets (should be located at least 6ft away from the sink)?
- Any leaks from the sink or dishwasher?
- Is the under-cabinet flooring in good condition?
- Is the sink water flow proper?
- Are the cabinets, pipes, garbage disposal, and appliances in good condition? Check for rust, rot, cracks, and all types of damage.
- Is it properly ventilated (i.e. not evacuating steam into the attic)?
- Do all the fixtures have good flow and pressure?
- Is the drainage working properly in the sink, shower, and tub?
- Are all the tiles secure?
- Is the toilet working well and stable?
- Are there any signs of previous leaks? What about rust on the pipes?
Other things to check for
- Smoke detectors, especially in places where they are required by law.
- A properly functioning garage door.
- Solid stairways and railings.
- No evidence of structural damage in the basement.
- Insulated crawl space, with proper venting and no signs of dampness or pest infestations.
- Properly functioning plumbing: visible, with adequate pressure, adequate temperature levels, no short cycling pumps, and an adequately sized heater.
- Visible wiring, with no knob-and-tube wires, exposed splices, or aluminum cables on branched circuitry.
- Proper heating/cooling system: no rust, clean air filters, no asbestos, and separate flues where several are available.