A home inspection should tell you the true condition of a home. A competent home inspector closely inspects your home’s structure and foundation, looks for termites and signs of problems like mold, checks the wiring to ensure it’s in good condition, and investigates the HVAC system, among other items. To find a good home inspector, first research whether home inspection is licensed in your area; not all states require licensure.
If there is no regulatory body that licenses home inspection in your state, there are other ways to make sure you are hiring a trustworthy professional. Carefully look into the person’s reviews and ask for references. Ask if they are committed to continuing education, and whether they are active members in any reputable home inspector organizations. Some organizations that recognize and/or certify home inspectors are the American Society of Home Inspectors, National Association of Certified Home Inspectors, and American Home Inspectors Training. Don’t be shy about asking to see credentials and licensing.
A home inspection is a visual inspection performed by a trained professional to determine the condition of a home’s main elements. The inspection usually takes several hours, during which the professional takes multiple photos and notes, tracking information for a final report. After the inspection, the pro will create a printed report, complete with photos and detailed information, summarizing the condition of the house. A home inspection is often used by potential home buyers prior to purchase to determine if there are larger issues (such as dry rot or a faulty foundation) that are not immediately visible to the untrained eye but that would cost a lot of money to resolve. Home inspections are also used by real estate agents and home sellers to address any concerns before putting a home on the market. Longtime homeowners can also schedule a home inspection to get a snapshot of their current home condition and identify any issues that need to be addressed. A home inspection is not a legal document that can be used for divorce or estate settlements, nor can it be used to secure loans or mortgages.
Home appraisals and home inspections both assess your home and provide a report summarizing the condition or value of your home based on key measurements. Unlike a home inspection for the sale of a property, a home appraisal is used for loan applications, property value assessment for sales or settlements (divorce, estate, etc.), and taxes and insurance. If you’re having your home appraised for lending purposes, you’ll likely need a state-certified appraiser, so be sure to your research their credentials. Nationally, the average cost for a home appraisal is $340.
If you’re buying or selling a home, having a professional home inspection can be an invaluable tool for price-setting and negotiation, as well as learning what repairs are necessary. The national average home inspection cost is $310, ranging higher or lower depending on the inspection company, your location and the size of your home. Other factors that can affect cost are additional inspection services and pathogen testing. Here are some examples of average home inspection costs in various parts of the country:
- Home inspection in New York City: $425 or more.
- Condo inspection in New York City: $200 or more.
- Home inspection in Central Texas: $250 for homes up to 2,000 square feet.
- $275 for homes from 3,001-4,000 square feet.
- $300 for homes from 4,001-5,000 square feet.
- $325 for homes 5,001 square feet and up, plus 10 cents per additional square foot.
- Home inspection in Los Angeles: $199-$299 or more.
A typical chimney cleaning takes between 30 and 60 minutes. Wood insert fireplaces may take longer to clean, as can chimneys that contain birds’ nests, excessive debris or wildlife. A chimney sweep will arrive at your location and assess the fireplace to be cleaned, and will set up protective coverings or dropcloths to prevent any ash or soot from escaping into your home during the cleaning. Using high-powered vacuums, they clean out ash and other debris in the firebox. With special, long-reach brushes they brush down the interior walls all the way to the top of the chimney to loosen and remove built-up soot and creosote. Many chimney sweeps also offer inspections in tandem with cleanings to make sure you don’t have any cracks or damage inside the chimney or out. Repair work or additions — such as installing a chimney cap — can increase the cleaning time.
Regularly having your chimney cleaned is highly recommended both to improve the chimney’s efficiency as a heat source and to prevent home fires. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends having your chimney inspected at least once a year. You can hire a chimney sweep to clean the chimney while also inspecting it to ensure there is no damage to the lining, firebox or masonry. If you’ve had a new fireplace or wood-burning stove installed, CSIA urges you to have it checked halfway into the first season of use to make sure it’s operating safely. According to industry standards, a chimney sweep is recommended if more than 1/8 of an inch of soot or creosote has built up in the chimney or flue. Some fireplace experts suggest having your chimney cleaned, regardless of buildup, after every 1-2 cords of wood burned. Consult with your chimney sweep about what is best for optimal efficiency and safety with your fireplace.