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Frequently Asked Questions on Home Inspections

Please select one of the following topics:

What is a home inspection?
What does a home inspection include?
Why do I need a home inspection?
What will it cost?
Can’t I do it myself?
Can a house fail inspection?
How do I find a home inspector?
What is the American Society of Home Inspectors®?
Who belongs to ASHI?
When do I call in the home inspector?
Do I have to be there?
What if the report reveals problems?
If the house proves to be in good condition, did I really need an inspection?

What is a home inspection?
A home inspection is an objective visual examination of the physical structure and systems of a home, from roof to foundation. A home inspection is the equivalent of a physical examination from your doctor. When problems or symptoms of problems are found, the inspector may recommend further evaluation or remedies.
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What does a home inspection include?
A standard home inspection summarizes findings from a visual inspection of the condition of the subject home’s heating system, central air conditioning system (temperature permitting), interior plumbing and electrical systems; roof, attic, and visible insulation; walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors; foundation, basement, and the visible structures of the home.
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Why do I need a home inspection?
A home inspection summarizes the condition of a property, points out the need for major repairs and identifies areas that may need attention in the near future. Buyers and sellers depend on an accurate home inspection to maximize their knowledge of the property in order to make intelligent decisions before executing an agreement for sale or purchase.

A home inspection points out the positive aspects of a home, as well as the maintenance that will be necessary to keep it in good shape. After an inspection, both parties have a much clearer understanding of the value and needs of the property.

For homeowners, an inspection may be used to identify problems in the making and to learn about preventive measures, which might avoid costly future repairs. If you are planning to sell your home, an inspection prior to placing your home on the market provides a better understanding of conditions which may be discovered by the buyer's inspector, and provides you an opportunity to make repairs that will make your home more desirable to potential buyers.
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What will it cost?
Inspection fees for a typical single family home vary by geography, size and features of the property, and age of the home. Additionally, services such as septic inspections and radon testing may be warranted depending upon the individual property. Prices vary. It is a good idea to check local prices in your area as you consider a professional home inspection.

Do not let the cost deter you from having a home inspection or selecting an inspector you are comfortable with – knowledge gained from an inspection is well worth the time and expense. The lowest-priced inspector is not necessarily a bargain. The inspector's qualifications, including experience, training, and professional affiliations, should be the most important consideration in your selection.
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Can’t I do it myself?
Even the most experienced homeowner lacks the knowledge and expertise of a professional home inspector. A professional home inspector has the experience, depth of knowledge and training to make an unbiased and informed report of the condition of a property. An inspector is familiar with the many elements of home construction, their proper installation and maintenance. An inspector understands how the home's systems and components are intended to function together, as well as how and why they fail and knows what to look for and is uniquely suited to interpret what their findings reveal about the condition of the property.

Most buyers find it difficult to remain objective and unemotional about the house they really want, and this may affect their judgment. For the most accurate information about the condition of a home, always obtain an impartial third-party opinion by an expert in the field of home inspection.
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Can a house fail a home inspection?
No. A professional home inspection is an examination of the current condition of your home. It is not an appraisal, which determines market value, or a municipal inspection, which verifies compliance to local codes and standards. A home inspector will not pass or fail a house. A home inspection describes the physical condition of a property and indicates what may need repair or replacement.
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How do I find a home inspector?
Word of mouth, the experiences and referrals from friends and neighbors is one of the best ways to find a home inspector. Someone who has used a home inspection service and is satisfied with the level of customer service and professionalism of that service will likely recommend a qualified professional.

In addition, names of inspectors in your area can be found by searching our online database, or can be found in the local Yellow Pages directory where many advertise under "Building Inspection Service" or "Home Inspection Service." Real estate professionals are generally familiar with the inspection services in your area and can provide a list of qualified professionals.

Regardless of your referral source, make sure that the home inspector is a member of the American Society of Home Inspectors® (ASHI). Our members have the highest professional qualifications, experience, and business ethics in the industry. A list of ASHI members in your area is available upon request from the Association's headquarters.
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What is the American Society of Home Inspectors®?
The American Society of Home Inspectors® (ASHI) is the oldest and most widely recognized non-profit professional association for independent home inspectors. ASHI's "Standards of Practice" serve as the home inspector's performance guideline, and are universally recognized and accepted by professional and government authorities. Copies of the Standards are available free from ASHI.

ASHI's professional Code of Ethics prohibits members from engaging in conflict of interest activities, which may compromise their objectivity. This is the assurance to the consumer that the inspector will not, for example, use the inspection to solicit or refer repair work.

ASHI sponsors continuing education, technical seminars and workshops and serves the public interest by providing accurate and helpful consumer information to home buyers on home purchasing and home maintenance.
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Who belongs to ASHI?
Members of ASHI are independent professional home inspectors who have met the most rigorous technical and experience requirements in the industry. Prospective ASHI members must pass two written technical examinations, must have performed a minimum of 250 professional fee-paid home inspections, and must maintain their candidate status for no less than six months. ASHI members are required to follow the Society's Code of Ethics, and to obtain continuing education credits in order to keep current with the latest in building technology, materials, and professional skills.
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When do I call in the home inspector?
Before you sign the contract or purchase agreement, make your purchase obligation contingent upon the findings of a professional home inspection. This clause should specify the terms to which both the buyer and seller are obligated. Contact a home inspector immediately after the contract or purchase agreement has been signed. Home inspectors are aware of the time constraints involved in purchase agreements and most are available to conduct the required inspection within a few days.
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Do I have to be there?
While it is not necessary for you to be present, it is always recommended that you make time to join the inspector for their visit. This allows you to observe the inspector, ask questions as you learn about the condition of the home, how its systems work, and how to maintain them. After you have seen the property with the inspector, you will find the written report easier to understand.
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What if the report reveals problems?
No house is perfect. When the inspector identifies problems, it does not indicate you should not buy the house. His findings serve to educate you in advance of the purchase about the condition of the property. A seller may adjust the purchase price or contract terms if major problems are discovered during an inspection. If your budget is tight, or if you do not want to be involved in future repair work, this information will be extremely valuable.
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If the house proves to be in good condition, did I really need an inspection?
Yes. Now you can complete your home purchase with confidence about the condition of the property and all its equipment and systems. From the inspection, you will have learned many things about your new home, and will want to keep that information for future reference.
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