The home inspection is the best and worst part of the entire transaction. Before we get into my reasons for this, let’s talk about what the home inspection is and why it is valuable. First, the home inspection is an evaluation of the structural and mechanical items in the home. This includes a range of things, like Stove, HVAC, Heating, Cooling, etc. However, the home inspector is not a specialist in every aspect of the home, she is a generalist with experience assessing and evaluating a house. It’s no different from a lifeguard, for example, the lifeguard can save your life but you wouldn’t ask her how to build the pool. Second, the home inspection gives you a glimpse into what additional issues and costs you are going to encounter by purchasing the property. Now let’s go ahead and set the record straight, every home inspection will come back with findings. And maybe I should buffer myself and say 99.99 percent of all home inspections. Why is that? Because it is the job of the home inspector to find things that could impact you as the buyer now or down the road. The home inspection is typically a 90 minute or longer process.

During the inspection, the home inspector will perform a few general evaluations. She’ll look around the exterior of the property, take notes and make an assessment of her findings. This evaluation will include everything from the grading, which is the amount of slope from the foundation to the ground, all the way to an assessment of the roof. Notice I said the inspector performs an assessment and not an evaluation. The home inspector is there to uncover as many potential problems with the home and works 1000 percent in your interest as the buyer. Everything is scrutinized and with that logic, if you go looking for something, you’ll find something. And most home inspectors err on the side of caution and would prefer to document even the slightest findings. I have to add a caveat, not all home inspection companies are made evenly. It’s important that you perform your due diligence and fortunately, when you work with me, I have a list of amazing home inspection companies, and individuals, specifically, that I can refer to you.

Now, let’s talk about why this is the best and the worst part of the process. As a realtor, I have absolutely no power in this situation. And for anyone that’s scary but imagine putting in so much time, energy – aka work and nothing comes from that based on the opinion of one person. Yea, the home inspector has that much power. Based on her findings, the entire contract can be cancelled, assuming there’s a home inspection addendum in place. There’s also explaining what the findings mean short-term and long-term. Having enough experience with home inspections and carpentry help me to better break down the report and provide valuable insights.

What Doesn’t a Home Inspection Cover

As mentioned before, the home inspection includes the structural and mechanical items related to the property. It’s a comprehensive report once it’s put together but be mindful that your future home could need other specialized tests done to ensure that you and your family are safe for the years to come. Specifically, a traditional home inspection does not cover an air quality test. This service must typically be added as part of the home inspection. And, depending on the home inspection, the air quality test costs per area – certainly something to be mindful of. For example, I had a client that purchased a home. During the home inspection we noticed that there was microbial growth (a nice way to say mold) near the HVAC unit, which was in a closet. The concern from the home inspector was that spores were being sucked into the HVAC and delivered throughout the house. In this case, to make a clear assessment if spores are present in each room, air quality samples would have to be taken at each vent. Alternatively, test a couple high traffic areas and then remediating the issue works as well. Regardless of the approach, in this example, the home inspection included additional services and cost. Additionally, mold sampling, radon testing, and the pest inspection are all additional services.

A home inspection is a valuable tool as a home buyer to protect you and your interests. The contract is the first step so make sure you read over the terms and understand the protections that are available to you.

How to Pick a Home Inspection Company

Your first resource for a home inspection company should be your realtor. Your realtor is a professional and should be your resource to all of the players in your transaction. Really good agents have a host of skills, knowledge and abilities to guide their client through the transaction. From the list provided you, I recommend confirming two things, a) did your agent give you at least three (3) options and b) does your agent benefit in any way if you work with any of the home inspectors. These two questions, for me, establish transparency of the agents’ motivations.

From that list of options, perform a routine google search and read their reviews and services they offer. As you shop, remember that if it sounds too good to be true than it usually is. Also, as you narrow your search feel free to ask your realtor for clients’ they’ve previously worked with that have used that home inspector. Of course, the realtor will need to confirm if that’s okay to share their past clients’ information with you, but you can certainly ask.

Ask your friends and family that have purchased a home. Your strongest resource can be those people you know that have experienced this process and can offer your brief moments of advice. When asking friends and family, you may want to temper your desire to make other aware that you’re buying a home. For many people, it’s a personal and private process.

Home inspections are a valuable tool for homebuyers, especially first time buyers. The process of buying a home is already complicated, there’s no need to make life post the transaction difficult. I look forward to helping you with all of your real estate needs and questions. Be sure to follow my Youtube Channel.


Brandon Scott is a licensed real estate agent in Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia. His license hangs with Coldwell Banker Dupont-Logan, DC. He’s been involved in the mortgage finance industry for the last 16 years in various fields. You can reach him by email at [email protected]. Subscribe to his YouTube Channel at RealTeaDMV