A home is a major investment. It may be the biggest one you’ll ever make. That investment will come with a lot of joy and memories — but it can also come with a few headaches. Every home ever built will have its issues and ultimately need repairs, but it’s important to do your due diligence when you’re about to buy, to make sure you’re not taking on more than you bargained for.
Home inspections are a key part of that process. Let’s look at a few of the inspections you may need when buying a house. As always, talk to your Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty agent: They are your No. 1 source of advice, always.
Are home inspections required?
There is no legal requirement for a home inspection in a real estate transaction. Thought the buyer’s lender or homeowner’s-insurance company will often require one, this isn’t always the case. In fact, at the height of the sellers' market of summer 2021, 27 percent of buyers waived the home inspection contingency.
Even though many buyers opt out of asking for a home inspection, it’s not the best idea to skip this important part of the homebuying process. A general inspection alerts you to any potential problems or major future expenses with the home. Your inspector will examine everything about the home, including its structure, major systems and appliances, and the roof. Afterward, you receive a full report of any potential issues along with any recommendations for more specialized inspections. In the North Texas market, an inspection costs about $400 to $600 — and could save you thousands in the long run.
A home-inspection contingency — meaning, you’re waiting to see what an inspection may reveal before proceeding to buy — gives you room to renegotiate your sales price, ask the seller to give monetary concessions or make certain repairs, or even back out of the purchase entirely. It provides critical protection for you in this major transaction, so it’s rarely a good idea to opt out.
3 other types of inspections you should consider when buying a house
What inspections are needed when buying a home? It’s always a good idea to get a general inspection when you’re buying a home, but there are a few other inspections you may want to consider. If the general inspector doesn’t mention these, it’s worth asking them whether you should get any or all of the following inspections:
Termite and wood-boring pest inspection
Termites and other wood-boring insects can do serious damage to a home’s structure, and they’re fairly common in the U.S., especially in warmer, more humid climates. If they’ve been present for a long time, repairs can cost thousands of dollars and involve tearing out walls to replace major sections of the home’s frame and support structures. It’s well worth the typical $50–$280 price tag to make sure you won’t have serious pest damage on your hands.
Mold is another common issue in homes, especially if water finds its way inside or there are any undetected leaks. When present, molds can cause significant health issues for many people. If you’re sensitive to molds and live in a home where they’re present, you may experience various respiratory symptoms, some of which could be serious. It’s a good idea to get an inspection and correct any serious mold issues before you buy. A mold inspection costs roughly $300–$1,000 on average.
The foundation is critical to your home’s structural integrity, and significant cracks or shifts can lead to other problems. Your general home inspector will usually be able to assess basic foundation issues and flag them for you, but they may recommend a structural engineer if they see anything that may be a sign of something more serious. Homes with foundation problems may need cracks repaired and sealed or support piers installed to prevent further issues. Hiring a structural engineer to inspect your foundation will typically cost between $200 and $700.
Other issues your home inspector may flag for a more specialized look include:
Lead-based paint (for homes built before 1978)
Electrical or plumbing
Asbestos (for homes built before 1980)
Sewer or septic system
Inspections are an important part of the homebuying process
Time is of the essence during a home purchase. An inspection contingency typically allows 10 days for you to get any relevant inspections and negotiate any repairs or concessions with the seller. Once the seller signs off on your offer, you or your agent should order a standard inspection and any others you’ll need. Once you have the results, you can negotiate or walk away.
Inspections add time and cost to the homebuying process, but they’re generally well worth the extra money and effort. Without a general inspection — and any other ones that may be relevant to your home — the only information you have is what the seller discloses.
Still working through your homebuying questions? For more of our ‘How to Do It’ tips, check out our blog.