What You Need to Know About Home Inspections

St. Louis Home Inspection

What is a home inspection?

A home inspection assesses the condition of many parts of a home and is conducted by a qualified and certified home inspector.  After the inspection is completed, an inspection report is issued and can be used to identify problem areas or repairs that need to be done.  It can be used by the buyer or the seller to make a knowledgeable decision about how much a home is worth and many times plays a part in price negotiations.

Benefits of home inspections before selling a house

Sellers will often complete a home inspection before putting a property on the market for a variety of reasons. 

A pre-inspection will give a seller a heads-up on problem areas that a buyer will want repaired or will want a credit on against the final price of the house.  Also knowing what the problems are in advance allows the seller to make repairs, creating a more desirable home with fewer problems which could result in a quicker sale.  Conversely, an inspection can also highlight a home’s strengths such as a new roof or other upgrades.

A pre-inspection is also a demonstration on the seller’s part of a gesture of good will and openness about the condition of their home.  This builds trust with all potential buyers and can set a seller apart from others who do not order a pre-inspection.  Disclosing issues up front can also protect a seller, instead of a buyer uncovering problems later in the process that can sometimes lead to a canceled sale or possibly a lawsuit.

Benefits of home inspections before buying a house

Buyers will reap several benefits from having a home inspection as part of the purchase process.

Although an inspection may cost anywhere from $200 to $500, the amount of money it could save a buyer can be multiples of that amount.  This can come in the form of repairs that must be made as part of negotiations or credits toward the final price of the home.

An inspection will also uncover things that may not be visible to a buyer but will be readily apparent to a trained inspector.  Plumbing or electrical issues are not always easy to spot but can be costly to fix.

Have a detailed inspection in hand gives buyers a fair amount of leverage to negotiate a lower price.  This can sometimes make the difference between a home being affordable or not, especially when larger problems are uncovered.  Knowing what the shortcomings are also allows a buyer to include a clause regarding what repairs must be made by the sellers as part of the process.

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Home inspection costs

Home inspection costs in St. Louis and the surrounding areas of University City, St. Louis Hills, Kirkwood, Webster Groves, Arnold, Fenton, Crestwood, Richmond Heights and other nearby communities will vary depending on a number of factors. 

Inspectors quote fees using a variety of methods.  Some charge a flat fee based on the square footage of the living area, or the square footage under the roof, or by the amount of time they must spend on an inspection.

The age of a home may also play a role in costs as well.  An older home with a lot of repairs, additions or various “eccentricities” may require more time and care to do a thorough job.

Generally, the larger the house is, the you should expect to pay.  Inspections for condos may run as little as $200 while larger homes could run upwards of $400 or more.  If you want additional tests such as for mold or for radon, expect these to be added on to the final cost as well.

How to choose a home inspector

While cost should play a role, you want the job done right, so make sure you interview more than one inspector, asking about their experience, what their services cover and other pertinent questions. 

Missouri is one of the few states that has not adopted licensing requirements for home inspectors, so you will need to look for other qualifications instead. 

There are training courses that inspectors can take such as those offered by Inspection Certification Associates.  This provides reassurance that the home inspector has meet a certain level of training to become an inspector.  Any training should be backed up by years of experience as an inspector, specifically in residential inspections in the greater St. Louis area.

Also ask if the inspector has membership in any organizations like the American Society of Home Inspectors or NACHI (National Association of Certified Home Inspectors).  This is another indicator of the dedication and professionalism of the inspector you may use.

Make sure you use an inspector who only does inspections and does not also offer repairs.  There is clearly a conflict of interest when this is the case.

Although it’s not required, also consider using an inspector who is bonded or insured.  It provides an extra level of protection for you as a client of the inspector.

What’s covered in a home inspection?

The short answer is…a lot.  The National Association of Home Inspectors provides its inspectors with a list of 1,600 different items that they should look at in an inspection.  Here’s a quick overview of what they will inspect.

  • Roof
  • Exterior
  • Grounds
  • Basement
  • Foundation
  • Crawlspaces
  • Heating
  • Cooling
  • Plumbing
  • Electrical
  • Attic
  • Insulation
  • Ventilation
  • Doors
  • Windows
  • Trim
  • Kitchen
  • Bathrooms
  • Interior

After the inspection is completed, a report will be issued with the inspector’s findings.  This will include a detailed list of the issues that were uncovered, even if they were very small and easy to repair.  This punch list can either be used as a guideline for repairs to be made or as a negotiating leverage between the buyer and the seller.

What may not be covered in a home inspection?

While a home inspection is comprehensive by most accounts, there are some areas that a basic inspection will not cover.  You might consider adding certain inspections to get a complete picture of the home’s condition.  The inspector may be able to complete these, or they may require specialized certification beyond what a home inspector can offer. 

Some inspections may also be mandatory. For example, pest inspections are required in 30 states prior to sale. Most all mortgages financed in the greater St. Louis area require that a home being financed undergo a pest inspection prior to the loan being approved.

Other inspections may include:

  • Mold Inspections – The six most common molds are Acremonium, Alternaria, Aspergillus, Cladosporium, Penicillium and Stachybotrys.  Testing may run as much as $1,000.
  • Sewer Inspections – A sewer scope to look for root blockage is a worthwhile investment for homes that are 20 years or older.  Cost is $100-$300.
  • Asbestos Inspections – Asbestos was used in home construction up until 1989. Having the home checked for asbestos is probably worth it in older homes with popcorn ceilings.  It can cost up to $800, depending on the size of the home.
  • Radon inspections – Radon is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers, and is, overall, the second leading cause of lung cancer.  Added inspection cost is $100-$200.
  • Gas line inspections – Preventative measure to take against deadly leaks and explosions.

Related Articles

  1. How to Sell Your House Fast
  2. Guide to Home Staging
  3. Choosing a Real Estate Agent
  4. How to choose a moving company
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