The average national home inspection cost is $300, with most homeowners spending $250 and $375. This data is based on actual project costs as reported by HomeAdvisor members.
Buying a home is exciting, but it can also be stressful and time-consuming. The worst thing that can happen after you've signed your closing papers is an unexpected major expense due to problems in the home that you weren't made aware of during the buying process. That's why a home inspection is so important and why most realtors advise homebuyers to hire a home inspector when they are looking to buy a home. Some buyers opt to save a few dollars by skipping this step. While an inspector is an additional expense, hiring one can help you avoid costly repairs and downright bad deals, saving you time and money in the long run.
"How much do you charge?" is normally the first question asked of a home inspector. You should be asking about qualifications, experience, and how they get most of their business! Nonetheless, here is a breakdown of what you need to know so you can anticipate what you should expect to pay for a home inspection:
There is no set standard for how the overall inspection price is calculated, so you should ask your inspector up front to find out how you will be charged.
Inspectors quote inspection fees using different methods. Some charge a flat rate by the square footage of living area, square footage of area under the roof, or the amount of time spent on the inspection.
If the inspector charges based on the amount of time spent, the larger your house is, the more you should expect to pay.
The age of homes can affect the cost as well. Some newer homes can be inspected in 2 to 3 hours while older homes can take 4 or more hours. This is due to repairs, additions and simply how the house has developed eccentricities over the years that require a closer look.
Some inspection reports might take an hour or two to complete, while others might take 4 hours or more. This varies by inspector and how they compile reports.
The average rate for home inspection is around $200-$600 based on where you live. Some inspectors can charge up to $800 or more.
As with most things, paying the lowest cost for a home inspection isn't always in your best interest. Inspectors aren't regulated by HUD (The U.S. Department of Housing and Development), so inspectors who charge the least might be cutting corners.
As stated above, all home inspectors are not created equal. They cover different areas in their inspection, so you should always find out ahead of time what exactly will be covered and what will not. At the end of the inspection, your inspector should present you with a report listing the problem areas that were found, including photos. Make sure the following areas are covered to avoid future hassles and maintenance repairs:
The general interior & exterior
Some additional areas that might be covered by your home inspector include:
These additional areas generally require specialized certification, so if you want them checked out, you should call around to find a qualified inspector. They may come at an additional cost.
Home inspections should be non-invasive, meaning it should not include making holes in the walls, damaging fixtures, prying up shingles, or otherwise affecting the structure of the home. In some cases more invasive examinations are required, but they should be completed only with the written consent of the homeowner. Because of this, it is in your best interest to be present during the inspection.Return to Top
What Extra Costs Should You Consider?
While your quote should be fairly accurate, it's good to be aware of extra costs that could sneak up on you. For instance, some inspectors consider detached garages as part of the main house and do not charge for them while others consider detached garages as outbuildings and charge extra to inspect them. Also be aware that if you have other items such as a swimming pool or septic system, you may have to pay extra for inspection of those items. Some might charge for mileage to the home.
TIP: Most home inspectors will charge a "base price" - but then as they ask questions like how large the home is, what year it was built, age of the home, etc., their "base price" gets much higher. Be aware the "real" price isn't the base price you'll be quoted right off the bat. Here are some other things that might add to the total cost, but could be worth it in the long run:
Radon Testing: According to the EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency) Radon is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers, and is, overall, the second leading cause of lung cancer. It is therefore worth the extra $100-$200 that inspectors might charge to have the home tested for Radon.
Asbestos: Newer homes shouldn't need to worry about asbestos, but asbestos was used in home construction up until 1989. Having the home checked for asbestos is probably worth it in older homes with popcorn ceilings. However it does come at a hefty cost. On average, you should expect to spend $400-$800 for a 1,500 square foot house including lab fees, and then another $200-$400 for a re-inspection after the project is complete. Asbestos removal can cost anywhere from $400-$30,000 depending on the amount of asbestos present.
Sewer Scope: Of all the things that homebuyers overlook, the sewer is at the top. Many inspectors will refer you to a sewer scope company since this runs outside their area of expertise. A sewer scope is a worthwhile investment for homes that are 20 years or older with pipes that could be blocked by tree roots. Homes that were built in the 1950s might even have their sewer lines attached to cesspools. The upfront cost for a sewer scope will run from $85-$300, but it can save you thousands on replacing a sewer line down the road.
Here is a breakdown of major questions you need to ask your inspector before going through with the home inspection:
What exactly does the inspection cover?
The inspection should cover the items listed in section 2. In addition, your inspector should be able to prove the inspection and report will meet all applicable state guidelines along with complying with a standard code of ethics. You can request a copy of all the areas that will be included in the inspection upfront so that you can ask questions as well as identify any additional areas that you want covered.
What is your experience with home inspections?
No, it isn't rude to ask a home inspector to provide proof of his/her qualifications. In fact, it's just good practice. Your inspector should be able to provide you with references and/or proof of experience upon your asking.
Is your expertise in residential inspections?
Some people who have experience in construction or commercial inspection might claim that they can perform a home inspection, but it is best to choose an inspector who has been specifically trained to inspect residential spaces.
If the inspection shows that repairs are warranted, are you certified to perform the repairs?
Some state regulations and home inspector associations allow inspectors to perform repairs upon inspection, while others strictly forbid repairs due to a conflict of interest.
How long will the inspection take?
Larger homes (2,000 square feet or more) will take longer than smaller homes, but some inspectors just take longer than others no matter what size the home is. On average, you should anticipate the inspection to take 2-3 hours for a single-family home.
How much is this going to cost?
See section 1 for average cost information. This question is important because you should have an accurate quote up front and it is worthwhile to shop around and get a few quotes.
What does the report look like and how soon after the inspection will I see it?
Ask for samples of previous reports the inspector has done to get a feel for his/her reporting style and to make sure you can make sense out of the report itself. In general, you should expect to see the report no more than 24 hours after the inspection has been completed.
Can I attend the inspection?
If the inspector answers no to this question, it's probably time to move on to another inspector. It's a pretty big red flag not to allow the homebuyer to attend.
Which home inspector association are you a member of?
There are a few different home inspector associations in the country and, really, it doesn't matter which association the inspector belongs to as long as s/he belongs to one. An inspector who doesn't belong to a professional association likely doesn't take the job seriously and might not be as qualified as other available candidates.
How do you keep your expertise up to date?
It's important to stay on top of education and training in most fields, and home inspection is no exception. A reputable home inspector will take advantage of training courses to stay current and hone skills. This question is especially important for homebuyers who are interested in an older home that requires additional skills/expertise for specific problems.
Licensing & Regulation
The two main associations that license and regulate home inspectors are NACHI (National Association of Certified Home Inspectors) and NAHI (National Association of Home Inspectors). These associations hold their members to a high standard of quality, and any home inspector who belongs to one of these will need to adhere to their guidelines. Inspectors need to pass an application process to be accepted, and anyone who veers from the guidelines will have his/her membership revoked. The associations' websites can provide a good starting point for finding a licensed inspector in your area.Return to Top
A Final Note on Paying for a Home Inspection
Based on all the added expenses that you might end up paying without a home inspection such as fixing a broken water heater, plumbing issues, and foundation problems, the minimal cost of $200-$600 is definitely worth it. Homebuyers are often stressed out about money and think that they can save a few dollars by skipping a home inspection. In reality, an inspection can be the best investment you make in your home and it can give you peace of mind when you finally decide to buy.