What to expect from a home inspection

Setting Realistic Home Inspection Expectations

If you have bought or sold a home at any point in your life then you know what a home inspection is, and depending on which side of the transaction you were on, you probably have an opinion as to what an inspection should or should not be. What is the truth of the matter? What is or is not a home inspection and how is it meant to be used in a transaction?  Let’s dig in.

A home inspection is:

“an objective visual examination of the physical structure and systems of a house, from the roof to the foundation…The standard home inspector’s report will cover the condition of the home’s heating system; central air conditioning system (temperature permitting); interior plumbing system; electrical system; the roof, attic and visible insulation; walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors; and the foundation, basement and structural components.”


During the due diligence period, a Buyer has the opportunity to inspect the home, inspect all systems within the home and perform their due diligence-essentially doing your homework for the property BEFORE you actually make the purchase.  Many Buyers like to attend the home inspection, but we advise them to show up during the last 35 minutes or so to learn of the inspectors findings and ask any needed questions or clarifications. This allows the inspector to work free of distractions and still allows you an in-person review of the items noted in the report.  The inspection report is typically delivered to you within 24 hours and with the advancement of the technology used by the home inspectors, can often be 20-40 pages long even when very little needs attention. 

A House Cannot Fail A Home Inspection

A house cannot fail an inspection, it is not a test, there is no grading.  Your report should be a fact based outline of the age, condition and potential  issues related to your home.  

A Buyer could have a contract to purchase a home that is going to need $50,000 worth of repairs and be completely okay with that because they are going to gut it anyway.  Likewise, a home with little or no issues may still end up needing repairs after closing because of a system fail or random issue. A home inspection is simply an overview and not a guarantee.   If you are a Buyer it is important to remember that a home inspection also is not to be used as a punch list to get your new home in tip top shape from top to bottom before you buy it.

The actual verbiage in the Purchase and Sale contract used here in Georgia, states “Purpose of Due Diligence Period: During the due diligence period, Buyer shall determine whether or not to exercise Buyer’s option to proceed or not proceed with the purchase of the property.  If Buyer has concerns with the property, Buyer may during the Due Diligence period seek to negotiate an amendment to this Agreement to address such concerns. “ 

So What Should You Address?

Remember the home inspection is to confirm systems are in working order and to make you aware if there are or are not any issues. The scope of the home inspection includes the following systems: “‘heating system; central air conditioning system (temperature permitting); interior plumbing system; electrical system; the roof, attic and visible insulation; walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors; and the foundation, basement and structural components.’ Some repairs might be necessary to make a home habitable or suitable for financing.  While others fall more in the “nice to have” or cosmetic category and that is a big distinction that you will want to keep in mind. 

Reviewing your home inspection report can often be daunting. Many home inspectors include suggestions and recommendations in their reports that while useful and helpful to know are not necessarily considered ‘repairs’ that are needed to move forward with a purchase.

For example: 

“The rear deck handrails do not appear to be graspable. A handrail that is too large or without a graspable finger recess area in its profile may be a safety concern. This may be a relatively new requirement but we recommend considering an upgrade for safety.”

While this is helpful for a new owner to know, it is not something that would warrant repair.  Homes that are up to code at the time the work was done are not required to come to code for a new Buyer. Nor should a seller be required to fix something that is not really broken. 

“This unit is its normal life expectancy. Budgeting for its eventual replacement is recommended.”  “ Recommend trimming trees / hedges / shrubs / vegetation away from the house, in order to prevent damage to the exterior wall surface and or roof covering.”  “ Periodic cleaning and sealing of the concrete deck will help to preserve and prolong its service life. This should be repeated approximately every 2-3 years as a preventive maintenance action. “

These are common notations in a home inspection report that many Buyers and Sellers find unsettling, but these comments do exactly what a home inspection report is supposed to do-let a potential Buyer know what expenses could be on the horizon in order to help them make a sound decision. 

Your agent should review the home inspection report with you and help you determine what things should be repaired or how to negotiate the cost of repairs.   Every home is going to have wear and tear and it is important to understand that your attention should be on the structure and systems of the home and not get distracted by the extraneous notes in the report. 

The home inspection process is the most common place for a transaction to fall apart. Emotions run high. Understanding the purpose and scope of a home inspection and having your agent guide you through the process is the best way to change that and that is what we are here to do. 

Have questions? Let us know!