Do You Know What a Home Inspection Should Cover?

by Dan Krell

Now that the market has turned away from the record seller’s market we recently experienced, homebuyers are asking home sellers for such things as closing cost assistance and home warranties. It is also common to ask for contract contingencies such as financing approval and a home inspection.

During the height of the sellers market it was common for home buyers to forgo the home inspection so as to have their purchase offer look better than others. These home buyers took the chance that the home did not have any latent defects and was in acceptable condition.

If you are a home buyer, it is highly recommended to have a home inspection. The goal of a home inspection is to ascertain the general condition of the home including the structural condition, revealing items that need immediate attention, and determining the remaining lifespan of the home’s systems by visually inspecting the home and its components. Because the inspection is visual, it has limitations. Hiring the right home inspector can make the difference.

Before you hire a home inspector, consider that not all home inspectors are equal. It is recommended that you interview your home inspector and ask basic questions such as what are their qualifications and experience, what certifications/licenses they have, do they carry errors and omissions insurance (ask for a copy), can you contact a past client for a recommendation, what will the inspection cover, how long will the inspection be, and is the inspection guaranteed.

The Maryland legislature passed a home inspector licensure law that has been deferred due to funding constraints. So although your home inspector may not licensed, they could be certified by and/or have memberships in the National Association of Certified Home Inspectors and the American Society of Home Inspectors. Both associations require the home inspector to follow an education requirement as well as an ethical code and standards of practice.

What should your inspector be looking for? The American Society of Home Inspectors standard for a home inspection is to examine the condition of the home’s heating system and/ or central air conditioning system (temperature permitting), interior plumbing system, electrical system, roof, attic and visible insulation, walls, ceilings, floors, windows, doors, foundation, basement and structural components. The findings will be recorded in a report that will be given to you at the end of your inspection.

Like everything else in life, a home is not a perfect structure. Finding problems in the home is not a definite indicator to not purchase the home, however it is more of a guide to determine if you can afford to take on repairs immediately or in the future. Depending on market conditions, it is common to ask the seller to make the necessary repairs.

Home inspections are not just for older homes. It is becoming more common to have a home inspection of a new built home as well. Although home builders have their own quality assurance measures, no one is perfect and mistakes are overlooked.

For more information about home inspection scope and limitations as well as finding a qualified home inspector, you can search the websites of the National Association of Certified Home Inspectors ( and the American Society of Home Inspectors (

This column is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. This column was originally publoshed in the Montgomery County Sentinel the week of 1/22/2007. Dan Krell © 2007.