Types of Home Inspections Explained

Hannah Griffith
12 min read
September 26, 2022
types of home inspections

There’s a saying in real estate:  you don’t make money selling; you make money when you buy real estate. So invest wisely, and you increase your chances of a profit. The average homeownership tenure in the US is eight years. Furthermore, buying a home comes with a mortgage, and a home inspection is required for mortgage approval. 

Professional home inspectors can guide you in this regard. For example, they might discover an expensive structural problem that will cause problems down the road. A professional home inspection report can save you from these troubles. 

There are many types of home inspections. As a buyer, you should familiarize yourself with some of them. This article will explore 15 types of home inspections standard in most states. 

What Is Included In A Home Inspection? And Why Do You Need It?

So how many types of home inspections do we have?  The most common one is a standard home inspection. A standard home inspection covers all home parts and is sufficient for most people. However, you might need a specialized home inspection if your inspector finds some issues. Also, some areas may require separate home inspections like radon, mold, pests, etc. Finally, you may want to have a specific home inspection. For example, if you suspect a foundation problem, it is an excellent idea to let an expert check it.

You may wonder why we need a home inspection. The answer is that a professional home inspection is necessary to verify the functionality of a house. For example, repairs can cost thousands of dollars if the roof falls apart or something goes wrong with the HVAC. A home inspection will cost a few hundred dollars, i.e., $250-$750. You will receive a detailed report showing you the actual status of the property. Then, if there is a problem, you can adjust it in your deal or walk away from it. A home inspection report is equally important if you want to sell or increase the home value by renovating. Your home inspector will guide you about the repairs required when preparing your home for sale. 

What Are Different Types Of Home Inspections?

Let’s explore different types of home inspections. Each inspection checks a specific function or problem, for example, roof, plumbing, electrical, foundation inspection, etc.

1. Roof Inspection

The roof is over the head but invisible because we don't know about its health. Proper roof care can save future troubles. Roofers check roofs in two parts. Interior checking includes examining ventilation, attic, mold, moisture, etc. Exterior inspection includes checking leaks, chimneys, and other roof materials.

For metal roofs checking for leaks is essential. Metals expand and contract in summer and winter. This change in size may damage some screws and loosen up the whole assembly. Rust is another issue in metal roofs. For shingle roofs checking for water damage is the primary concern. The next issue is age or wear and tear of shingles, and mold is another. The roofer will check all these issues individually to prepare a detailed report.

2. Electrical Inspection

Poor electrical wiring or equipment is a significant cause of fire in many homes. Thus a home can not be safe without proper and professional electrical installations. Also, proper and standard-compliant electrical wiring is comfortable and energy-saving.

Your home inspector might check for electrical wiring, switches, and boxes. In addition, they will check electrical systems for compliance with city codes, safety practices, and general wear and tear. Finally, they will write about exposed wiring, ungrounded connections, and low-quality modifications. The report will also include an estimated cost of replacement.

3. Chimney Inspection

A Clogged chimney can accumulate a poisonous gas, carbon monoxide (CO). It can cause suffocation and severe health issues. Smoke and odors are other side effects of inefficient ducts. Finally, creosote buildup (caused by burning wood) can lead to a fire. Bat or bird nests in the chimneys may be another issue. A chimney inspection will check for all these problems and more.

Visual examination is one part of the checking process. First, it will reveal any visible wear and tear. Then the inspector will look for any bird openings on the top. Finally, the essential part is to check for proper ventilation. The inspection report will contain the current status of the chimneys, any possible problems, and the repair cost.

4. Lead-Based Paint Inspection

Lead is hazardous to human health, and the federal government banned it in 1978. So logically and legally speaking, no house should have lead paint now. However, many old homes might have lead-based paint. So, it is a good idea to check some samples of color in the lab for the presence of lead.

The home inspector will do a visual inspection for any lead-based paint. In addition, they may collect some samples to test in the laboratory. Lead-based paint inspection is a must for old houses built before 1978, but you can do it for newer homes if you feel a need for it.

5. Mold Inspection

Mold causes allergic reactions. Symptoms like cough, sneezing, watery eyes, headache, and fatigue are common. A mold may indicate a minor problem or a sign of a much bigger issue like flooding, leaks, water damage, etc. It is not difficult to remove mold. Yet, it will reappear in supportive conditions. Areas like pipes, windows, roof leakage, and general humidity cause mold to grow.

An inspector can detect mold by visual examination, surface sampling, or thermal imaging. Moreover, they can check the humidity levels of an area. For example, there might be a water leakage causing mold. Also, some damp or cold spots behind walls might be liable. The assessment may contain the mold status, type, causes, removal method, and costs.

6. Crawl Space Inspection

A crawl space is up to three feet high between the ground and the bottom floor of a house. This extra space is helpful for plumbing, electrical wiring, and HVAC systems. Due to its limited height, one can only crawl to visit this area. This limited access makes the maintenance of this area challenging. So the crawl space may have many problems. Termites, wood rot, and mold are expected if there is leakage or no dehumidifier. There might be foundation problems or leaking ducts, pipes, or hanging wires.

The home inspector will take the time to look for each possible problem in the crawl space carefully. If there are any problems, they will provide an estimate for repair. You can then discuss these problems with the seller. The homeowner may agree to reduce the price or resolve the crawl space issues. 

7. HVAC Inspection

Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning inspection is a must. Central cooling and heating systems make a home comfortable. Also, energy-efficient equipment helps you save money. But unfortunately, the cost to repair or reinstall these systems is also very high. That’s why a faulty HVAC can negatively impact your home value

HVAC inspectors will check each component and the working of the whole system. First, they will check for any strange noise or odor in the system. Then they will match the thermostats and their readings. Then they will check the furnace for any problems. The HVAC inspection report will guide you about possible problems and their solutions. They may also suggest replacing the system with an energy-efficient one to save costs. Overall, you will receive an estimate for repairs/replacement, which can be used to negotiate a better price. 

8. Asbestos Inspection

Asbestos is not harmful in normal conditions. However, its fibers propagated in the air can cause health problems, including lung cancer. Therefore, the use of asbestos is banned now. However, for houses built before 1975, asbestos usage was a routine. Builders used it for its low price, strength, lower weight, and long-lasting life. As a result, asbestos-containing materials (ACM) may be present in a house in several places, like insulation, floor tiles, paint siding, etc. 

Asbestos inspection is necessary to check for its presence. The asbestos test might take some time, and the inspector has to look for it at several places. If found and the inspector recommends its removal, you need to negotiate the price. Asbestos inspection is a must for remodeled property, mainly if changes are applied to the insulation, flooring, and roof. 

9. Pest, Termite, Or Rodent Inspection

Pests, termites, rodents, carpenter ants, and spiders can create a lot of discomfort and property damage. Finding and removing them as soon as possible is the only way to avoid losses. 

For the pest inspection, the inspector will first look for obvious visual signs. Then they can check moisture levels for indirect signs. For example, mud tubes or damaged wood might also be warning signs.

Most homes suffer from termite damage, and it remains invisible until you hear a cracking sound while walking. For early detection, you will need a termite home inspection report. 

10. Radon Inspection

Radon is an odorless, colorless gas with radioactive properties. Breathing it over time may lead to lung cancer. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that at least one home out of fifteen in the United States has elevated radon levels. A map of high radon zones is available on the EPA site. Reducing radon levels will also improve the home's air quality and energy efficiency.

Radon home inspection is more important for houses with basements. An inspector can check radon levels with a short-term test of 2-3 days or a long-term test of 90 days. In addition, you may get a previous radon level test report from the seller to check for any increase in radon levels.

11. Pool And Spa Inspection

A pool adds to the value of a home. However, maintaining its structure, components, and systems is challenging. In addition, a house may have many water/cleaning problems due to the pool. Therefore you should ask your home inspector to check it thoroughly.

While inspecting, a home inspector will first check for leaks and structural damage. Then they will assess the drainage system. Then they might check it for any safety cover, hardware problems, or possible improvements.

12. Plumbing And Water Systems Inspection

A plumbing home inspection is necessary because a plumbing emergency can become a nightmare for the homeowner. Galvanized plumbing is typical in many homes. It weakens the pipes, which can leak any time to cause a lot of damage. If the house has a well, you should have it checked.

The inspecting person will first check the plumbing and water system visually. Then they might check it with different devices. For example, they may use cameras to diagnose plumbing issues or verify the quality of fixtures. The inspector will also check for proper water pressure at every required place. They will also check if the heating system connects to the plumbing and water system.

13. Foundation Or Structural Inspection

As a foundation is not visible, it is easy to overlook its quality and checkup. However, foundation inspection is a must-have for every home buyer because a problem here can lead to many issues in the house.

Similarly, a structural inspection can reveal problems like gaps between walls and ceilings or cracks in any walls. A minor issue like improper closing doors might be a warning sign of problems with the house structure.

The General home inspector will check the foundation and structure of the house. However, a structural engineer can inspect the house for any foundation or structural issues for a more thorough analysis.

14. Sewer Or Septic System Inspection

Sewers and septic tanks are an essential part of a house. However, not every home has a connection to the sewer system. A sewer inspection will find any issues with this vital system. In addition, many inspectors use cameras to find any blockage or areas with congested flow.

A septic tank home inspection will check the sludge level and the last pumped date. This inspection will also verify if the tank size is according to community standards and family size. Even after the purchase, you should have a septic tank inspection every three to five years. 

15. Soil Inspection

The Foundation of a home rests on the soil. Therefore the condition of the soil determines the stability of a house. Therefore, soil analysis should be a part of the pre-construction analysis. You should conduct a soil inspection to remove any doubts in this regard. Soil inspection is more critical in hilly or rainstorm areas. It will test for soil shifting or any chances of mudflows, erosions, etc. 

The Bottom Line: Types Of Home Inspections

There are many types of home inspections available for different houses and equipment. We discussed the top fifteen types of home inspections here, but there can be more. You may wonder, is it necessary to have a home inspection? Is getting a home inspection worth the hassle and cost? 

The answer is yes. You’re buying a financial asset. You want to build memories for years to come. Now is the right time to scrutinize this. If you find any problem in the home inspection, you will save money and headaches. Without a professional home inspection, you could be putting yourself at risk of potential health issues. You want to avoid that for kids, older people, and yourself. You want your family to live problem-free in your home sweet home.

As a rule, you should first have a general home inspection. It’s also called pre-inspection when selling a home. It will uncover most of the issues. Then if you find something suspicious, you can let that part be checked more thoroughly by a qualified person. A specific home inspection cost will vary depending on the issue being inspected. For example, you might need the help of a structural engineer and a home inspector for structural problems, which can cost a couple of hundred dollars. You might want to get 2-3 quotes before choosing a professional home inspector.