The Property Inspection Process

Few things in the home buying or home selling process cause more anxiety in everyone involved than the home inspection.

The home buyers have finally found a home they love, negotiated the price, and had their offer accepted. Now they are worried about what the home inspector might find that could become a roadblock to a smooth closing.

The home sellers become nervous because they aren’t sure what the inspector might find that could cause the buyers to ask for a concession on the price to repair or replace something in the house.

Truthfully, sometimes the sellers know there are issues with the home that they should have addressed before they listed the house for sale. They know the inspector will see the problem, whether it be a home maintenance issue, plumbing or HVAC equipment that needs to be repaired, or water damage from a leaky roof. They know the potential buyers are going to ask for a price concession, they just aren’t sure how much they’re going to have to give up so that they don’t lose the sale.

The real estate agent (or realtor) is also concerned that the home inspector might find an issue with the house that could cause the buyers to walk away from the deal if the sellers don’t agree to a price concession they feel is fair.

In truth, as long as the inspector does his job professionally, the home inspection should essentially amount to a necessary service that allows the potential home buyers to have all the information they need to feel confident that they are paying a fair price for the home. As well as giving the buyers reassurance that they aren’t about to move into the proverbial ‘money pit.’

Two Basic Types Of Home Inspections

Some home sellers will have an inspector perform a Pre-Listing inspection to identify any issues they need to address before putting the house on the market, and to offer assurance to any potential buyers that the home is in good condition.

A Buyer’s inspection is typically requested after a potential homebuyer has made an offer on a home, and that offer has been accepted by the seller. Residential real estate contracts typically contain an inspection period that allows the buyer to have the home inspected before they are contractually-bound to close on the home.

If the home inspection turns up anything that can’t be resolved between the buyer and the seller, the buyer is free to cancel the contract and is entitled to the return of their earnest money.

Key Thing To Remember About Home Inspections

A home inspection is an assessment of the condition of the home at the time of the inspection. Inspection reports do not provide or infer pass or fail ratings for the property.

Just because a home has issues that need to be corrected, doesn’t mean the property isn’t a good investment. The information provided in the inspection report simply provides the potential homebuyer with the information they need in order to make good decisions during the negotiation over price concessions should any be warranted.

7 Biggest Things The Home Inspector Is Looking At

The inspector will performa visual inspection to identify any health, safety, structural, or mechanical issues. The inspector will also document any previous fire or water damage to the home.

The major types of issues that home inspectors are evaluating fall into one of the following seven categories:

  • Structural deficiencies
  • Insect damage or infestation
  • Water damage or intrusion
  • Roof damage/condition of roof
  • Electrical system issues
  • Plumbing systems and fixtures
  • HVAC (heating & air conditioning) issues

Foundation Inspection

The home inspector will assess the condition of the foundation. The foundation could be a slab, a basement, or a crawlspace. The inspector will look for any cracks, settling, sinking, or signs of water intrusion.

The inspector will also evaluate the severity of any foundation or structural issues by checking to see if the doors open and close properly on the first floor of the home.

Roof Inspection

Not all inspectors will climb up on the roof, but most do. Some inspectors will use a drone to inspect the roof, and others will refer the potential homebuyer to a roofing specialist to have the roof checked out.

The inspector will assess the overall condition of the roof, and look for any signs of damage such as missing or damaged shingles, signs of mold or water intrusion etc.

Electrical inspection

The inspector will evaluate the electrical panel inside the box that houses it. He or she will look at the manufacturer of the panel, and the circuit breakers to determine if they were produced by any of the brands that have had their electrical panels or circuit breakers recalled.

The inspector will also not the capacity of the panel, and whether the way the circuits are wired meets current residential electrical codes.

HVAC (Heating and Air Conditioning) Inspection

The inspector will check to make sure the furnace or boiler turns on, produces heat, and turns off when it is supposed to. He will check the condition of the venting and exhaust for the heating system, as well as the existence of combustion air vents. Most inspectors will also use a carbon monoxide (CO) detector to determine if the furnace or heating appliance is allowing dangerous levels of carbon monoxide gas to escape into the home.

The inspector will also inspect the condition and operation of the cooling system, which could be either an air conditioner, an evaporative cooler, or a ductless mini-split system.

One of the key things the inspector should note is the age of the heating and cooling equipment so the potential buyers know approximately how much useful life the equipment has left.

Plumbing Inspection

The inspector will inspect the main water shutoffs, as well as the individual shutoffs for the water lines going to the various plumbing appliances such as water heaters.

The inspector will also assess the condition and operation of the water heater.

All of the plumbing fixtures will be checked to ensure that they operate properly.

If the potential home buyers have requested a sewer scope inspection, the inspector will use a camera to inspect the sewer line from the point where it enters the home out to where it connects to the city sewer tap. The camera is used to check for blockages, or any damage to the sewer pipe.


The inspector will check the operation of any appliances that are present in the home, and that are to be included in the sale of the property.