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Home Inspections Part I: How to Prepare

Congratulations! If you’re preparing for a home inspection, you’re on your way owning a new home.This is a crucial part of the home buying and selling process, so it is important to be well informed and know what to expect.

What is a home inspection?

A standard home inspection is a visual examination of the physical structure and major interior systems of a residential building/property. It should be clearly understood however that a home inspection is NOT an appraisal, building code inspection, guarantee of any kind, and/or insurance on the condition of the property.

What happens during an inspection?

During a home inspection, the inspector will examine accessible and exposed portions of the home including the roof, attic, walls, ceilings, floors, windows, doors, basement, and foundation as well as any heating or cooling systems in place, interior plumbing, and the electrical systems. The inspector does not seek to point out every small defect in the home; a buyer should be able to recognize minor or cosmetic flaws without professional aid. Rather, the inspector serves to bring to light major issues in the home before a final purchase and sale.

Why do I need a home inspection?

A home inspection is the key to finding any issues with the property you’re looking to purchase. Inspections can turn up anything from simple problems to complex issues, so in the long run, the inspection cost is a small price to pay. 

What kind of cost can I expect?

A typical home inspection in New England can range anywhere from $400-1,500. This is typically determined based on the square footage and number of rooms in the home. Additional fees for specialized inspections could apply to those addressing:

  • Wood destroying insects
  • Radon
  • Water testing
  • Lead testing
  • Septic inspections

How do I choose which inspector to use?

There are many things you should look for and ask of a prospective inspector. You’ll want to be confident in their ability to efficiently and thoroughly inspect the property, so addressing the following items can help determine if you’ve chosen the right person for the job:

  • Ask to see proof of state certification or proof of membership in National Associations of Certified Home Inspectors (NACHI) or the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI).

  • ASHI requires a minimum of 250 inspections, but many experienced professionals would suggest it’s better to find someone who has performed at least 1,000 inspections. The amount of time spent of the job is also important; ideally you’ll want someone who has been on the job full time for at least three - five years.

  • In Massachusetts, home inspectors are required to be licensed. You should ask for proof of licensing and general liability insurance. In addition, the inspector in question should also be able to present proof of errors and omission (E&O) insurance.

  • What do they cover when inspecting a home? While we mentioned above what you can expect, you’ll want to clarify with the inspector exactly what they’ll be looking at and taking into account. As part of this, it may be helpful to also find out how long the inspection will take to complete. Typically you can expect 2-4 hours. 

  • Should you attend the inspection? Yes! A good inspector will want you to be present in order for you to learn more about your home and go through everything he sees. A buyer should be at the home inspection, but more often than not the seller is asked not to attend. Pro-tip: Stay near the inspector as they move throughout the home so they can tell you about problems when they arise. 

  • Find out what kind of inspection report to expect to receive. You may ask to see samples of their previous work to see if the information is clear and informative. In addition, it may be wise to cross reference with your lender to make sure the report fits their needs for items like VA funding. 

  • Finally, use technology to your advantage. See if you can find reviews of the inspector on Yelp, Angie’s List, or similar sites to get a feel for how others’ experiences with them have gone. This can be a very informative step to your research, as former clients are usually more willing to expose strengths and weaknesses otherwise kept secret.

Your real estate agent is also a helpful resource in finding an inspector. Since they have performed many home closings themselves, they have gone through home inspections with clients and a variety inspectors. Your buyer's agent should be able to recommend several inspectors for your consideration.

Dwell360 is a boutique residential real estate firm based in Newton, Massachusetts, servicing the cities and suburbs of Greater Boston. Their talented REALTORS seek to educate about and help clients through the home inspection process. Dwell360 is a leader in luxury real estate throughout Boston, Brookline, Newton, Needham, and other communities of the Greater Boston area.  Search for homes in Massachusetts and then give us a call.
Hayes, Abby. (April 27, 2014). 7 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Home Inspector. Retrieved from
Angie’s List. Angie’s List Guide to Home Inspection. Retrieved from
Precision Home Inspection. 8 Questions You NEED to Ask When Hiring a Home Inspector!. Retrieved from
US Department of Housing and Urban Development. 10 Important Questions to Ask Your Home Inspector. Retrieved from
Division of Professional Licensure. Home Inspectors Facts for Consumers Sheet. Retrieved from