The average cost for a home inspection is $300. Hiring a home inspector to properly inspect your home, you will likely spend between $250 and $400. The price of home inspection can vary greatly by region (and even by zip code). View our local home inspectors or get free estimates from pros near you.
When you’re spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a home, a home inspection is a small price to pay to ensure you’ll be living in a house that won’t fall apart after you move in. In other words, you don’t want your dream home to become a nightmare.
Of course, you don’t want the inspection of your “dream home” to become a nightmare, either.
In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the cost of a home inspection and how to get a fair deal on an inspection. But first, here's a typical outline to follow:
|Total square footage of living area||Average Cost|
|Less than 2,000 square feet||$250|
|2,000 - 3,000 square feet||$300|
|3,000 - 4,000 square feet||$325|
|4,000 - 5,000 square feet||$350|
|More than 5,000 square feet||$400|
Before we dive into the cost of a home inspection and other details, let’s go over what a home inspection is. The American Home Inspectors Training Institute describes a home inspection as “an all-encompassing examination of the condition of a home.”
Abigail Vytlacil, a Realtor in the Houston area, says home inspections are required by most lenders and most loan programs. The two most common home inspections are a “general” inspection and a “wood-destroying insect” (termite) inspection, she says.
In general, a home inspection involves checking the home’s structure, exterior, roof, electrical system, plumbing, HVAC system interior, installation and ventilation, according to the training institute. Typically, an inspector then will write a report recommending improvements and repairs needed to make the sure home meets current standards.
“Home inspections may often reveal problems with a home that could be pricey to fix,” the institute says. “This could be used as a great tool in purchasing negotiations with the seller.”
The institute says that if flaws are discovered inside or outside the home, the buyer could work out a monetary credit with the seller, require the seller to pay for repairs, buy the home as it is or walk away from the deal.
Real estate agent Denise Supplee, co-founder of SparkRental.com, says it’s important to remember that a home inspector isn’t making any guarantees about a home’s condition or extending any warranties. Rather, the inspector is simply looking for problems.
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the cost of a home inspection normally ranges from $300 to $500. However, Frank Lesh, executive director of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), says a home inspection can cost several thousand dollars.
A home inspector might be a full-time inspector, but also might a residential architect, structural engineer or building contractor.
“A handyman who is just starting in the business might inspect the same house for $200 but not provide anywhere near the amount of useful information for the buyer,” says Jon Boyd, a real estate agent in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
The size, age, value and location of a home are the key factors in determining the cost of an inspection, Lesh says. A home inspection in the Northeast or on the West Coast normally costs more than a home inspection in the Midwest and South, he says.
Knight says the price of an inspection will go up if additional tests, such as those for pests, radon and water quality, are required.
Jeff Miller, co-founder of AE Home Group, a team of real estate agents in the Baltimore area, notes that experienced inspectors who are in high demand tend to charge higher fees than other inspectors. But, he adds, it’s “better to pay a higher price for a quality inspector than paying to fix an issue missed by a less experienced one.”
By the way, you should schedule an inspection far enough in advance so that you’re not facing extra charges for setting up a last-minute appointment.
Bottom line: HUD urges you to consider the value of the home inspection in terms of the investment you’re making in the home.
Boyd notes that some inspectors charge less if the buyer accompanies them on the inspection, so the buyer should attend the inspection if possible. If you do go along on an inspection, take a notebook with you so you can jot down data and questions, Vytlacil says.
Vytlacil recommends getting quotes from several home inspectors so you can compare prices and services.
Whatever you do, don’t settle on the first inspector who turns up in an online search, Vytlacil says. Rather, sift through several quotes and make your decision based on price, availability, quality and service offerings.
Knight says most inspectors work from a set price list. However, some inspectors will offer discounts to people like military veterans, schoolteachers and first responders. Also, first-time homebuyers sometimes are eligible for price breaks. In addition, some inspectors will offer specials to help speed up a home sale in a hot housing market.
“You get what you pay for,” Knight says, “so be sure whoever you hire knows how to properly inspect your future home.”
Boyd says he’s negotiated thousands of dollars in inspection discounts, but you can do that only if you’re confident the inspector won’t cut back on the quality of the inspection.
“The most important variable in the negotiation is the inspector’s workload,” Boyd says. “In our seasonal market, I can often get an inspector who normally charges hourly to give me a ‘not to exceed’ number for an inspection. And that number will be much less in the quiet winter market than it will be in our busy spring market.”
Boyd says some inspectors pay “finder’s fees” to real estate agents, and his company uses those fees to lower home inspection costs for buyers.
In fact, Vytlacil says her best tip for scoring the best price for a home inspection is to get a referral from a Realtor or another real estate professional.
As with so many other services, ask around. Check with friends, neighbors, relatives and coworkers. Also, look at online reviews, including those posted on the Better Business Bureau website.
“Due diligence before the inspection is a key step in buying a home,” Knight says.
HUD says an inspector should be able to provide his or her professional history and offer a few customer referrals.
“Newer inspectors can be very qualified,” according to HUD, “and many work with a partner or have access to more experienced inspectors to assist them in the inspection.”
ASHI suggests visiting its website (homeinspector.org) to find a home inspector in your area who’s certified by the organization. Keep in mind that a home inspector might not carry membership in ASHI but might belong to another professional association, such as the National Society of Professional Engineers.
Bryan recommends hiring an ASHI-certified inspector who’s completed at least 2,000 home inspections in your area.
Home inspectors are not regulated by any federal agencies, according to the Better Business Bureau, and most states don’t require them to be licensed. However, a structural engineer who’s also performing home inspections must be licensed.
The Better Business Bureau suggests hiring a home inspector who’s committed to avoiding conflicts of interest by:
Also, Knight recommends asking these two questions:
Here’s another question, courtesy of Miller: Are you willing to go on the roof to inspect it?
“Whether an inspector agrees to climb on the roof to inspect is a good way to figure out whether or not an inspector is worth hiring,” says Miller, the Baltimore-area agent. “While it is not required for an inspector to climb on the roof, it is a good sign as to the whether or not the inspector is willing to conduct a thorough inspection.”
Knight suggests reviewing the entire contract that’s been drawn up by the home inspector before signing it and, later, studying the entire inspection report.
“A home inspection is a visual, non-invasive, objective assessment of a home, so keep that in mind when reading the inspection agreement,” Knight says. “If you have any questions, always ask for clarification.”
Miller, the Baltimore-area agent, adds that you should always request a scope of work from the inspector — a list of services that will be performed.
“Make sure that they agree to conduct a thorough inspection that’s beyond cosmetics and appliances,” he says.
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