What Happens During a Home Inspection?

Professional estate seller with clipboard writing documents outside in front of rented house with advertising area

What happens during a home inspection?


It’s a bit more complicated than giving someone a tour of your house or testing to make sure the lights work. If you’re buying your first house, it’s definitely not something you can do yourself or skip.

So what is it?

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We’ve put together this guide to walk you through the home inspection steps and show you learn what happens during the process. Let’s get started below!

Do You Have to Be at the House During the Inspection?

If you can’t get out of work or simply don’t have the free time in your schedule, you don’t have to attend the inspection. However, you should try your best to make it. Being present during the home inspection will allow you to learn about the building and get a better idea of what work needs to be done (if any) before you proceed with the sale.

While you will get a copy of all this information on the final report, you can’t ask the piece of paper for more details. It’s a good idea to prepare a list of questions to ask during a home inspection so you don’t forget anything important in the moment.

What to Expect During a Home Inspection

Every home inspection looks a little different (depending on the size and style of your home and where you live), but they should all include these basic steps. Here’s what happens during a home inspection.

The Timeframe

If you’re planning to attend the home inspection, make sure you give yourself plenty of time. In most cases, a professional home inspection will take at least an hour. The process can take even longer if you have a large house or need to look at many features.

Don’t expect the inspector to be in and out in a matter of minutes. A short inspection likely isn’t a reputable one.

The Inspection

During the inspection, the professional inspector will go from room to room and examine the home’s features, appliances, electric fixtures, etc. They will also take plenty of notes and pictures. If you’re following them during their walkthrough, they’ll also explain what they’re looking for and what they find.

It’s a good idea to have your own home inspection checklist on hand during this process. Make sure the inspector looks at all the following things while they’re in your home:

  • Foundation
  • Structural components (such as the walls, floors, and ceilings)
  • Windows and doors
  • Roof
  • Attic
  • Basement and crawlspace
  • HVAC system
  • Plumbing system
  • Electrical components
  • Appliances (such as the oven or the dishwasher)
  • Fire sprinklers (if the home has them)
  • Garage (including testing the opener)

As the inspector studies these things, they should also be keeping an out for things like:

  • Mold growth
  • signs of pest infestations
  • Insulation issues

The inspector will focus on the condition of the home. They won’t comment on anything that has to do with the aesthetic design of the building. The appearance comes down to personal preference, and it plays no part in an inspection.

Keep in mind, the inspector can only point out what they see. Sometimes, mold growth and pest infestations are hidden behind walls. If they can’t see the warning signs (which can be hard or even impossible to spot), they won’t be able to tell you whether or not those things are in the home.

The Report

After the inspection, the inspector will give you a detailed report of what they found in the home. This report will include a summary of the condition of the house, and it will also include a list of problems, recommended repairs, and the remaining lifespan of appliances/features.

You can also expect to find a lot of pictures in the report to show you what they’re describing (which is especially helpful if you weren’t able to be there in person).

However, you won’t get this report at the end of the day. It can take several days for an inspector to send you their full report, so don’t be surprised if you don’t get it right away.

What Happens If Your Home Doesn’t Pass the Inspection?

Home inspections don’t work like that. There is no chance your home will fail the inspection because it doesn’t involve any type of grading system.

An inspection simply lets you know the condition of the home. It tells you about potential problems in the building and recommends repairs, but whether you make those repairs or not is up to you.

So what’s the point of an inspection then?

It lets you know what you’re getting into before buying the house. If the home needs a lot of major repairs, it gives you a chance to back out and look for a different house somewhere else. It also gives you a way to negotiate the price down to a more affordable rate with the seller.

What Happens During a Home Inspection: Don’t Be Caught by Surprise

The best way to figure out what happens during a home inspection is to ask the inspection company a lot of questions in advance and to do some research before they arrive at the house. This will ensure you don’t get caught by surprise when it comes to things like the timeframe and what the inspector might find during the process.

Do you want to learn some other helpful home improvement tips?

Don’t go anywhere! Make sure you take a look at some of the creative (and money-saving) ideas on our blog!