Virtually every article about buying a home stresses the importance of spending $300 to $500 on a professional home inspection. It’s a relatively small price to pay for peace of mind when there are tens of thousands of dollars at stake.
Generally speaking, home inspections are very thorough, including up to 1,600 items that help determine if the home you are about to buy is in good enough shape to justify the price.
There are, however, certain items that home inspectors don’t check. For example, conditions such as the presence of mold, radon or asbestos all require specialized inspections that cost more or need to be conducted by specialists. That makes sense and the inspector should tell you that he’s not going to look for these.
But there are some items that you might expect to be inspected that aren’t. Here’s a list of six such items from Realtor.com — and they might surprise you.
Electrical outlets behind heavy furniture. Inspectors won’t move heavy couches or cabinets to get at electrical outlets or panels. If an inspector can’t get to something easily, it won’t get looked over.
Roof. If a roof is easily accessible and dry, the inspector will climb up there and look for loose shingles and other defects, but it’s a two- or three-story roof or if the roof is wet from a recent storm or if it’s too steep, don’t expect the inspector to risk life and limb.
Fireplace and chimney. Inspectors will check to see that dampers work and may look up the chimney to make sure it’s not blocked, but that’s about it. Specialist fireplace inspectors may charge up to $200 to check for creosote buildup. and if the home is located in an earthquake zone, the fireplace and chimney inspector will check for damage for an additional fee.
Ground beneath the house. Home inspectors generally ignore the ground underneath a home. If you’re concerned about that, expect to pay $300 to $1,000 for basic testing and up to $5,000 for drilling a bore hole to evaluate the ground more thoroughly. If the area is susceptible to sinkholes, this may be a good investment.
Swimming pool. A basic inspection will check that the pumps and heaters are working properly, but the inspector is not likely thoroughly to examine any cracks or dents. A specialized pool inspector could charge up to $250 for a thorough inspection, but you might get it free if you hire the inspector’s company to maintain the pool.
Well and septic system. If the water runs and there is no obvious backup from the septic system, don’t expect a home inspection to look for any deeper issues. Testing the quality of the water and the full operation of the septic system can add another $250 for the former and $200 for the latter.