Types of home inspections – buyer’s inspection, seller’s pre-listing inspection, warranty inspection, or home maintenance inspection…what’s the difference anyway?
When most people hear “home inspection,” they associate the term with the inspection done during the option period when buying a home. Texas-based home inspector, Micah Stephens, with SafeShield Inspections explains, “Absolutely. The majority of home inspections we see are for people preparing to buy a home.” Stephens continues, “However, there are actually several types of home inspections. We see an increasing number of inspection requests for those about to put their home on the market, as well as homeowners looking to understand how their home’s major systems are functioning.”
Let’s take a look at four of the most common types of home inspections, their individual purpose and scope, and for whom each inspection is intended.
Types of Home Inspections: The Buyer’s Inspection (most common)
Let’s start with the most common type of home inspection – the buyer’s home inspection.
WHO ORDERS THIS INSPECTION?
This inspection is ordered by the intended buyer of the home.
Buying a home is one of the most significant investments a person can make in his or her lifetime. A wise buyer is an informed buyer, and a home inspection delivers just that. Information about the property you are interested in purchasing. The purpose of this inspection is to verify that all Structural, Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing systems are installed and operating as intended.
The home inspection issues that really matter fall into four main categories:
- Major defects (i.e. a structural failure)
- Things that LEAD to major defects (i.e. a small roof flashing leak)
- Things that may hinder your ability to finance, occupy, or insure
- Safety hazards (i.e. exposed, live, buss bar at the electrical panel)
SCOPE AND STANDARDS
A typical home inspection covers all major mechanical systems, structural integrity, cosmetic features and other aspects of the house. This includes:
- Heating and cooling systems
- Interior and exterior
- Kitchen, which includes sinks, faucets, garbage disposals and other built-in appliances
- Exterior walls
- Parapets, trim
- Basement and crawl space
- Examination of the attic and roof to assess the insulation, ventilation, framing, roof surface, flashing, penetrations, drainage, overhangs, gutters and downspouts
Because this is part of a real estate transaction, the inspector performing the inspection should be licensed and insured. Licensing requirements can vary by state. In Texas, inspectors must be licensed by the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) and follow their Standards of Practice for inspections performed within the state.
Additionally, inspectors may be affiliated with a professional inspectors association such as ASHI or InterNACHI. View the TREC Standards of Practice and InterNACHI Standards of Practice followed by SafeShield Inspections, which may not apply all inspectors. DO request to see the an inspector’s license number. Ask if they belong to any professional associations. Verify the standards of practice that an inspector is following.
Because it is an independent, unbiased, third-party inspection, the buyer pays the cost for the inspection. The on-site examination of the home should take two to four hours or more, depending on the specifics of the job (i.e. size or age of home, irrigation systems, etc.). The written report may take an additional two to four hours to prepare. Costs range from $350 to $700 for typical homes, but they can go higher, again depending on the age and type of structure.
Home Advisor reports that the national average for a standard home inspection in 2018 is $324, with the typical range falling between $277-$388. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development places the average between $300-$500. Fixr reports the average cost to range from $500-$700, and the average cost on Angie’s List for a home inspection is $473.
For the Houston area, ProMatcher spots the average home inspection cost for a 2,000 square foot home (most typical) at $321 with the range between $289-$352. Inspections on homes between 2,000-4,000 square feet would cost an average of $471 and for homes over 4,000 square feet, $540 and up.
CostOwl.com factors the national average cost range for a home inspection somewhere between $300 and $600.
Additional tests that are typically not included in a standard home inspection
Ask your real estate professional if these tests are needed:
- Pool and Spa – Thumbtack reports the average range for a pool and spa inspection to be between $80 to $150.
- Water Quality – The estimated cost of a water quality test is $100 to $200.
- Mold – The cost for mold inspection can range from $100 to $500.
- Radon – The estimated cost to test for radon is $75 to $150. You could also choose to get a Home Radon Test Kit.
- Wood Destroying Insects (Termites, etc.) – The estimated cost to inspect for wood boring insects is $100 to $200. Although sometimes included in the original home inspection, this is the cost if you were ordering this inspection separately.
- Septic Inspection – The cost for septic inspection usually starts at $300 to $500 and can easily go up depending on how “messy” the job gets.
- Lead-Based Paint
Types of Home Inspections: The Pre-Listing Inspection
For the next type of home inspection, let’s move onto the pre-listing inspection, also known as a seller’s inspection.
WHO ORDERS THIS INSPECTION?
This inspection is ordered by the homeowner(s) looking to put their house on the market, i.e. a “seller.”
The purpose of this inspection is to verify that all Structural, Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing systems are installed and operating as intended. Again, in the typical real estate transaction, the buyer is the one to order a home inspection. However, sellers can also schedule a professional assessment of their home before putting it on the market. A pre-listing inspection provides sellers with current information about the condition of their property, which gives them more control over repairs and potentially strengthens their negotiating position.
So, why should a seller do an inspection, particularly if the buyer is going to do one anyway?
An article from REALTOR Magazine explains it this way, “The value to the seller is that a pre-listing inspection makes them aware of issues in advance of negotiating a purchase agreement, allowing them the chance to resolve the issues or have them accounted for upfront in the asking price. This gives the seller better control in marketing their home and helps minimize stress from heat-of-the-moment negotiations once a purchase agreement is tendered. Homes that have a pre-listing inspection generally sell faster and have fewer inspection-related issues to negotiate, enabling a smoother transaction.“
- It allows you to see your home through the eyes of a critical and neutral third party.
- It alerts you to immediate safety issues before agents and visitors tour your home.
- It may alert you to items of immediate concern, such as radon gas or active termite infestation.
- It permits you to make repairs ahead of time so that …
- Defects won’t become negotiating stumbling blocks later.
- There is no delay in obtaining the Use and Occupancy Permit.
- You have the time to get reasonably priced contractors (or make the repairs yourself, if qualified.)
- It helps you to price your home realistically.
- It may relieve prospects’ concerns and suspicions.
- It may encourage the buyer to waive his inspection contingency.
- It reduces your liability by adding professional supporting documentation to your disclosure statement.
SCOPE AND STANDARDS
The only difference between a buyer’s inspection and a seller’s inspection is the customer for whom the inspection is being conducted and the time frame when the inspection occurs. The scope of the inspection should be exactly the same (see the scope for a buyer’s inspection listed above). It’s a full inspection for the seller utilizing the same standards of practice depending on the inspector and city/state requirements (see the TREC Standards of Practice and InterNACHI Standards of Practice followed by SafeShield Inspections, which may not apply all inspectors. DO ask to see the standards of practice that an inspector is following.)
The cost for a seller’s inspection is arguably worth the investment. Yes, the seller does pay the cost for the inspection out-of-pocket. However, because the seller is able to either address issues with their own choice of contractor and not on a potentially more expensive, rushed timeline OR have the issues accounted for in their initial asking price, many consider the fee for this inspection to be money well-spent.
Again, the on-site examination of the home should take two to four hours or more, depending on the specifics of the job (i.e. age or size of home, foundation type, etc.). And the written report may take an additional two to four hours to compile. Costs range from $350 to $700 for typical homes, but they may go higher. View national averages for home inspection fees here.
Depending on the disclosure laws in your state, you may be legally required to disclose all the problems the inspection uncovers to the buyer. By doing a home inspection before listing for sale, you might know about a significant number of problems. If you live in a state that requires disclosure (Texas does…view Section 5.008 of the Texas Property Code here), you now must let the buyer in on these issues. Talk with your real estate professional for more information.
Types of Home Inspections: The Warranty Inspection
Third up on the types of home inspection list is the warranty inspection, which may also be referred to as a “11 month warranty inspection.”
WHO ORDERS THIS INSPECTION?
This inspection is ordered by the homeowner who purchased a newly constructed home (i.e. built a home.)
Again, often called an 11th month inspection or 1-year warranty inspection, this inspection should be scheduled by new home buyers near the end of their first year builder warranty period. The purpose of this inspection is to identify any deficiencies that may be covered under the builder’s warranty (i.e. to verify that all Structural, Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing systems are installed and operating as intended.)
Warranties for newly constructed homes typically offer coverage on workmanship and materials. This inspection is the homeowner’s final opportunity to identify, document, and inform the builder of items in need of repair or replacement.
SCOPE AND STANDARDS
The scope of the warranty inspection SHOULD BE identical to the general home inspection (see the scope for a buyer’s inspection in the first section above.) Once again, it is a full inspection for the seller utilizing the same requirements and standards of practice, depending on the inspector and city/state. Make sure to check with your inspector to understand the complete scope and standards for this inspection!
The homeowner pays the cost for the warranty inspection. Is it worth it? Most major construction flaws for new homes may go unnoticed for an average of 3-5 years. By this time, correcting these issues could cost many thousands of dollars to remedy, and the builder is no longer responsible. The expense of these repairs will then fall solely on the homeowner.
The warranty inspection will likely take the inspector 4-8 hours to complete (this includes both the on-site examination of the home and the written report.) As with the buyer’s and seller’s inspections listed above, costs range from $350 to $700 for typical homes. View national averages for home inspection fees here.
Types of Home Inspections: The Maintenance Inspection
Last but not least on the list of home inspection types is the maintenance inspection.
WHO ORDERS THIS INSPECTION?
This inspection is ordered by the homeowner.
The home maintenance inspection is normally booked by homeowners who have been in their home several years and just want to know if the major systems and structures in the home are working properly. The purpose of this inspection is to verify that all Structural, Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing systems are installed and operating as intended. Think of it like an annual doctor’s physical! The homeowner(s) may not have noticed an issue yet, however a professional inspector is trained to spot smaller signs that something isn’t quite right.
SCOPE AND STANDARDS
The scope of the maintenance inspection is often exactly the same as the general home inspection (see the scope for a buyer’s inspection in the first section above.) However, the scope and standards may be less stringent depending on the inspector and state or licensing requirements. It is important to ask your inspector to go over these details with you.
The homeowner pays the cost for the maintenance inspection. As stated above, this inspection can help identify issues NOW before they become big (and potentially expensive) problems LATER. The expense of those repairs rests solely with the homeowner.
As with the buyer’s, seller’s, and warranty inspections listed above, maintenance inspection costs range from $350 to $700 for typical homes. When contemplating scheduling a maintenance inspection for your home, consider that this is a relatively small expense in comparison to the many thousands of dollars it may help you save in repairs in the future. View national averages for home inspection fees here.
When all of the parts of your home work together, your house should be durable, comfortable, healthy and energy efficient. Check out this FREE general, seasonal home maintenance checklist that you can use and incorporate into your regular maintenance program for your house to protect your investment, year after year.
A Word of Caution!
Be wary of an inspector who offers a cut-rate deal for their inspection. You know, it’s the deal that sounds “too good to be true” at a price well below any other quote you’ve gotten.
Also watch out for an inspector who spends only a short amount of time inspecting the home. As stated several times in the sections above, an experienced, professional inspector should spend two to four hours (or more) on-site performing the inspection.
Choosing a bargain basement inspector or one who speeds through their evaluation may likely result in a less-than-thorough inspection and potential deficiencies missed entirely by the inspector. BE CERTAIN to check an inspector’s licensing information, affiliations with professional associations, and if available, ask them for references!
Contact SafeShield Inspections for your Houston area Home Inspection Needs
Your future deserves the attention of a professional. Whether you’re buying or selling a home, or just “happily at home”, we invite you to consider SafeShield Inspections for your home inspection needs. If you have questions or would like more information on a Home Maintenance Inspection, please contact Micah Stephens at (832) 953-6992 or email Micah@SafeShieldInspections.com. CLICK HERE for a free quote.