How Much Does a Home Inspection Cost?
A comprehensive look at the expenses behind home inspections. What you need to know for a savvy real estate transaction.
Buying a home can be a stressful experience filled with uncertainty. Home inspectors can provide peace of mind that you’ve made a good decision.
As a real estate investor, I understand and appreciate the value of a good home inspector. I also spoke with Chris Meis, a licensed home inspector, and Paul Tourville, a graduate of the Realtor Institute (GRI) and a real estate broker for additional insight. You’ll get tips on how to find a good inspector, whether you need to hire one, and what you can expect to pay.
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Who Needs a Home Inspection?
The reality is, most home buyers need an inspection.
Experienced investors with large cash reserves, licensed contractors or buyers of newly-constructed homes still under warranty may wish to forego an inspection. If you’re not one of these buyers, you really should have an inspection. But in the current real estate market, this isn’t as straightforward as it once was.
More and more buyers today are skipping inspections to get their offer accepted in a competitive market. This comes with a huge risk. “I think it’s always a good idea to get an inspection,” Tourville says. “But for a while, no one was getting them.”
That can be problematic for buyers who exhaust their entire budget on the purchase. “If you buy at the top of your game and then don’t have any money left for repairs, you end up in a really unfortunate situation,” Meis says. First-time homebuyers unaware of what warning signs to look for may inadvertently pay too much for a home with major issues.
What’s the Best Way To Find a Home Inspector?
Ask family and friends, neighbors and co-workers for recommendations. Your real estate agent, lawyer or mortgage broker can also be good referral sources. “We’ll have a list of suggestions, maybe three of them,” Tourville says. “People we’ve had good experiences with that buyers can look up and research.”
Meis suggests going online. “Google Maps is a great tool to find local inspectors in your area,” he says. “You can look at their website, read reviews and check out some of their sample reports to see if it’s comprehensive.”
It’s easy: Type in the keywords ‘home inspection’ and the zip code where you’re buying your home. This will generate a list of local inspectors. Look for one with more than a handful of reviews to ensure accuracy and legitimacy. “Good inspectors should have a lot of good reviews,” Meis says.
How Much Does a Home Inspection Cost?
The national average for a single family home is around $400, with a range between $300 to $500. This will vary based on several factors, like the size of the home.
“A lot of inspectors charge based on square footage,” Meis says. The bigger the house, the more the inspections costs. His company charges $450 for a standard inspection for a 1,500-sq.-ft. property, with a $50 increase for each additional 500 square feet.
The complexity of a home is also a factor. Luxury homes may have multiple HVAC systems and electrical panels, high-end appliances and premium amenities like pools and saunas that require more expertise and time to inspect. These inspections can cost $1,500 or more.
Costs also vary based on the region of the country. You may pay a bit less in the Southern and Central United States than on the East and West Coasts. Mississippi prices range from $250 to $600, while California ranges from $500 to $700. Cities like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles also cost more, from $600 to $800 for a 1,500-sq.-ft. home.
The experience level of your inspector may influence the price too, according to Meis.
“I find the more experienced inspectors and chain companies tend to charge a little bit more,” he says. “Newer inspectors tend to undercharge.”
Is There More Than One Type of Home Inspection?
Yes. Here they are:
A standard inspection is usually conducted after a seller accepts a buyer’s offer and before both parties sign the formal purchase and sale agreement. This is a visual inspection of the home’s major structural elements and systems, inside and out. It’s intended to educate the home buyer about any major or minor repairs needed.
Buyers can hire inspectors to assess the home’s major systems and structural elements during an open house. The report is less detailed, but can cost 20% to 25% less than a standard inspection.
Buyers hire an inspector after closing to learn of any potential issues. “Whatever’s found is yours to own, but at least you can make a plan and won’t be surprised by it later,” Meis says. This would be the same cost as a full inspection.
Standard inspection add-ons
These extra inspections can cost an additional $100 to $300 each.
- Wood-boring insects: Determines the presence of termites, carpenter ants and other insects that can damage homes.
- Radon: Determines the presence of radon and assesses the air-quality.
- Thermal imaging: Uses advanced technology to check for air leaks.
- Mold: Determines the presence of unseen mold behind walls or floor coverings.
- Water quality: Often used in homes with a well, this inspection checks the water for lead, bacteria and other contaminants.
- Lead paint: Tests for lead paint in the interior and exterior painted surfaces.
- Sewer line: Inspected with a camera to assess its condition.
About the Experts
Chris Meis is a recently retired licensed home inspector and former owner of Honest Home Inspection in Minnesota. He was the 2021 Bronze Winner Minnesota’s Best: Home Inspector.
Paul Tourville is a licensed broker with Canon Real Estate in Massachusetts. He has been in the real estate industry since 1977.