Home inspections are very important when buying a home since buying that home is one of the most significant investments you’ll ever make.  Therefore, it’s crucial to make sure that your new home meets or exceeds your expectations. Home Inspections provide a comprehensive evaluation of the home’s condition, both inside and out.   

Home inspectors are generalists 

Recently, there’s been an effort to make home inspections more transparent and understandable for the consumer.  A new addendum was recently introduced to simplify the language used in inspection reports, making it easier for both buyers and sellers to to grasp which inspections are being done and the findings detailed in the report.  It’s important to understand that Home Inspectors tend to be “Generalists,” they know a little bit about a lot.  They tend not to be specialists in any one particular area, but they are trained to spot issues that require a specialist’s attention.  Their primary focus is on safety and big ticket/expensive items, not aesthetics.  

What will it cost me?

The cost of inspections in the DMV/Mid-Atlantic can vary but tend to run in the range of $300-$500, depending on the size and complexity of the home being Inspected.  Most inspections take a few hours to complete, however, the turnaround time on actual inspection reports can vary.  Given this information, it’s essential to be on top of the time-frames stipulated in your contract and on any associated addendums. Make sure that all inspections are completed in enough time for you to get reports back, reviewed, and repair requests sent to the seller before the inspections date set in the contract. 


What types of inspections are done?

Most inspection addendums allow for the choosing of one or multiple inspections. The Structural/Mechanical Inspection is the standard inspection done when someone is looking to buy a home.  This foundational inspection covers the overall condition of the home, focusing on the foundation, roofing, plumbing, electrical, HVAC and more.  This inspection should be the first one done and helps serve as the basis for any additional inspections that may be suggested or required.  Choosing the right Home Inspector is very important because he or she will be the one relied on to point out anything that needs a closer look.  Make sure you do your research when choosing your Home Inspector and always ask your agent for a couple they recommend.  Most agents want a good, fair inspector for their clients.  They don’t want an Inspector to scare the buyer but they also want to make sure the buyer doesn’t get caught with a major issue after settlement due to an inspector’s lack of knowledge or care.  


A mold inspection is an inspection that can be useful in the Mid-Atlantic where the humid summertime climate can lead to mold and mildew, especially in the basement of homes.  This inspection focuses on mold related problems which can be very important for those with allergies and/or respiratory issues.  Generally, a mold inspection is not ordered upfront when buying the home.  If the Inspector, who does the standard Structural/Mechanical Inspection, finds mold or anything that could be considered mold related, they may suggest having a mold specialist come in and investigate further.  

Environmental Inspections encompass various concerns, including the presence of hazardous materials, asbestos, or other contaminants.  Again, this type of inspection is not generally scheduled upfront but rather done only if the standard inspector see’s something that might need more investigation.  This type of inspection is pretty uncommon but a useful tool to ensure your new home is safe to live in.  

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that can seep into homes through the ground.  Radon Inspections check for elevated levels of this gas, which can be harmful and pose health risks over time.  While radon testing isn’t a requirement, it’s a very important test to have done in the Mid-Atlantic area, as it’s prone to higher radon counts.  This gas, over long periods of time has been shown to cause cancer, which is why we highly recommend getting a radon test when you buy a new home.  Remediation of radon is generally easy and relatively inexpensive so it makes a lot of sense to take care of it upfront instead of down the road.  

If the home you’re looking to buy has a fireplace or wood-burning stove, a chimney inspection ensures they’re safe to use and they comply with all regulations.  We’ve found that chimney inspections always yield something.  Buyers should always have a chimney expert inspect the chimney before buying the home.  Repairs can be costly, so making sure your chimney is in good working order before you move in is very important.  

If your home was built prior to 1978, lead based paint may be a concern, especially if you have young children.  A lead inspection is relatively easy, as most involve swabbing areas in the home with paint and testing the paint for lead.  Most lead paint has been covered (encapsulated) over time but you never can be too careful.  

A Wood Destroying Insect Inspection is one we suggest everyone get when buying a home.  This Inspection checks for termites and other pests that can wreak havoc on a property if not treated properly.  Termites are prevalent in the Mid-Atlantic area.  Looks can be deceiving when dealing with wood destroying insects and that’s why a good Inspector will sniff out any issues before you move into your new home.  General treatment is easy and inexpensive, however, if the home was left untreated for years, these critters can really take a bite out of your home and repairs can be super costly! 


Additional issues

Oftentimes, during the standard Structural/Mechanical Inspection, issues or concerns may arise that warrant further investigation, as we’ve explained above.  These additional inspections are available to ensure that no stone is left unturned and the home that you’re buying is in good working order when you move in.  Our suggestion, when writing a contract for a home that includes a standard inspection addendum, is to be sure to allow yourself the ability to do additional inspections should the standard inspector suggest the need for them.  The last thing you want to do is not be able to get something checked out because of the contract you signed.  Be sure to speak to your agent about this ahead of time.  


What should I expect?

Above, we’ve outlined multiple inspections that are available to a homebuyer when purchasing a home.  It’s important to remember that you don’t need to get every inspection and the strength of your offer is often tied to what inspections you are getting and the time-frame you have requested in which to get them done.  As a buyer, what you should be looking for out of an inspection is that the house is safe and that there are no big-ticket items you’ll have to fix or replace soon after moving in.  Don’t get bogged down by aesthetics or minor issues.  Remember, if you are buying a home, especially one that isn’t brand new, there will be some things an inspector finds.  It’s up to you and your agent to discern what’s important and what’s not.  Seller’s don’t like fixing things and oftentimes they’ll offer a credit as opposed to actually fixing an issue.  We’d prefer this because it allows you the money to fix the problem using someone you know or someone referred to you to do the job.  


Bottom line

At the end of the day, Inspections are a necessary part of the homebuying process.  They are used to protect you, the buyer, from issues down the road and can be used as leverage against the seller in negotiations, however, the seller doesn’t have to sell the home to you.  If you make sure you are working with an agent who understands all of this fully and has your best interest in mind and you are fair in your requests, the process will generally be a breeze. Whether you are buying or selling, Mr Lister is here to guide you through the home inspection process.  Be sure to follow us on social media @MrListerRealty for even more tips and advice on all things real estate related.