Thinking of Skipping the Home Inspection? Here's What It Will Cost You


Buying a home is a lengthy process, and most likely the biggest financial decision you'll ever make. Even if you score a great deal on the cost of your home, there are several other fees that sneak in, like closing costs, private mortgage insurance, broker fees, and more.

It can be tempting to want to forego the home inspection, especially since it's one more cost to handle. But even if your prospective home looks immaculate, you should still get an inspection. Doing so can potentially save you thousands of dollars.

Don't Take the Seller's Word

A few months ago, we bought a new home. Our home buying situation was a little unique, considering we were buying from a relocation company. The relocation company had gotten a home inspection before listing the house, and they were slightly put off by the fact that we wanted our own home inspection.

The home inspection ended up finding about $2,500 worth of repairs that were invisible to the naked eye. Shingles need to be replaced on the patio cover, the plumbing wasn't covered correctly in the attic, and the patio lighting wasn't done properly and posed a fire hazard. These were all things we would have never noticed without an inspection — but could have caused serious issues if left unfixed.

The company made the costly repairs right away, which saved us quite a bit of money. If we had foregone the inspection, then a number of things could have happened with the shoddy electrical wiring or uncovered plumbing lines. It was easily worth the $450 we paid for the inspection.

Prepare for Future Costs

With a home we bought in 2012, the inspector pointed out that we should keep an eye on the water heater, but he didn't write it in his report. Because of that comment, we opted for home warranty insurance, which cost about $400, and called in an inspection of the water heater within a few months of moving in. The home warranty covered the costs, saving us $400–$500, overall.

See also: 9 Things You Need to Know About a Home Appraisal

Forgo Bribes to Skip the Inspection

If a seller offers a discounted price or cash back for skipping the home inspection, walk away from the deal. This could be a huge red flag. A home inspection takes only a few hours and the cost is footed by the buyer. Therefore, the seller is not really inconvenienced when it comes to the home inspection, and there is no reason to persuade buyers against it, unless there are critical issues with the home.

Chicago homeowner, Lisa Keefe, experienced this when she and her husband put an offer in on a rehabbed cottage. "The sellers offered us a $5,000 break on the price if we would forgo the inspection," she said. They chose an inspection, instead.

Their inspection turned up a wide variety of issues, because the home was redone by the owner's inexperienced brother-in-law. A load-bearing wall was removed in the kitchen, the support beam was rotting, there were zoning issues with the basement, the roof was unstable, and the foundation was sinking. All of these issues were very serious and would have cost the Keefe's a lot of money, but thankfully they walked away from the cottage purchase.

What to Look for in a Home Inspector

You want to hire a home inspector that has many years of experience and the proper certifications and licenses. You also want an inspector that is thorough and will go into the attic, through the basement, and on the roof.

We had the same inspector for both of our home purchases, and he noted the big stuff, as well as the minor issues. Not only did he tell us about the faulty electrical on the patio, but he also mentioned minor things, like the fact that the shower grate needed to be screwed down and the hot and cold water for the kitchen sink were switched. When it comes to your new home purchase, it is better to have too much information than not enough.

Should You Be There for the Inspection?

Home inspections are not mandatory, but it is a good idea to be there. Some inspectors are happy with you following them around asking questions, while others want to do a thorough search first, and then a walk through with you. Make it a point to meet with the inspector and walk through all of his findings. Be sure to look thoroughly through his report afterward too. You are paying for his time, so don't hesitate to ask several questions.

Even if your home inspection turns up clean, it is nice to have that peace of mind. It can seem like an unnecessary expense, especially when your new home purchase is already squeezing your budget. However, the cost of a home inspection is worth it. It is better to pay $400–$500 for a report you don't need, than to skip it and pay $3,000 for a new roof within a year of buying your new home.

Ever have a home inspection? Do you think it was worth the extra cost?

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Guest's picture

Buyers should be aware that not all inspectors are competent and/or honest. Especially beware of inspectors recommended by the realtor (who has a vested interest in the sale of the home).

An incompetent inspector, combined with a dishonest seller, caused us much aggravation and the loss of many thousands of dollars due to unreported defects such as defective electrical, plumbing and massive termite damage.

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