21 Questions to Ask a Home Inspector Before, During & After the Inspection

Written by Trevor Douthett
Published on March 10, 2024

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A home inspection is more than a formality; it's a negotiation tool that can be used during the buying process.

But, not asking the right questions can make it difficult for buyers to have a clear picture of the home they're actually buying.

Knowing the right questions to ask during a home inspection is key to being fully informed and making a confident decision about your potential new home. 

This blog will prepare you with the best questions to ask a home inspector so that you identify potential costly issues and are well-informed about your investment. 

Let's learn how you can use specific questions to understand the exact condition of what you're buying, and the seller understands exactly what they're selling.

Key Takeaways

  • When considering questions to ask a home inspector, you should make sure to evaluate the inspector’s certifications, experience, and client testimony/reviews for thoroughness and reliability in the inspection process.
  • A standard 4-point home inspection covers main systems such as HVAC, roofing, electrical, and plumbing, but additional inspection services are often necessary for a complete assessment.
  • Home inspectors’ should include immediate safety concerns in their reports, prioritize maintenance recommendations, and offer post-inspection communications to clarify report findings.
  • Asking the right questions during the home buying process can give you a clearer picture of potential health hazards, and major repairs, future costs, and negotiate your home sale.

Top 21 Questions to ask a home inspector

Questions to Ask Before a Home Inspection

  1. What are your credentials and qualifications?
  2. Can you provide references or testimonials?
  3. What does your standard home inspection include?
  4. How much does a home inspection cost?
  5. How long will the inspection take?
  6. Can I join you during the inspection?
  7. How should I prepare for the inspection?


Gulf Coast Home Inspectors going through foundation inspection checklist

1. What are your credentials and qualifications?

Asking for an inspector’s qualifications and license number verifies their expertise and ensures they're legally authorized to conduct home inspections. 

While not all states mandate that home inspectors hold licenses, possession of one reflects their commitment to professional growth and continual learning.

Membership in recognized professional organizations such as ASHI or InterNACHI underscores an inspector’s compliance with established industry benchmarks. These endorsements reinforce home inspectors' reliability and skill set, affirming their up-to-date knowledge of construction methods and inspection protocols.

2. Can you provide references or testimonials from previous clients?

Verifying a home inspector’s trustworthiness and the quality of their service is essential. You can accomplish this by reviewing references or their online business reviews. These insights from previous customers give a direct perspective on the inspector’s ability to provide the services you need.

A consistent record of positive feedback suggests that they are a reliable and professional home inspector, allowing you to make an informed decision about who to hire for your home inspection.

*It’s always a good idea to start by asking your real estate agent for a recommendation on who to hire. Most agents have worked with numerous local companies or home inspectors in the past.

3. What does your standard home inspection include?

Understanding the various types of home inspections available from a home inspection company helps you identify which inspection you need. 

Not every company offers every type of inspection you may need. Most home inspection companies offer a typical four-point home inspection, including an evaluation of the roof integrity, plumbing, electrical, and HVAC. 

Most homeowners opt for a 4-point inspection because their home insurance company commonly requires it and it’s cost-effective.

Other inspection options include a full home inspection, a wind mitigation inspection, and a roof inspection. Specialized assessments like radon, mold, or termite inspections are also available. 

Identifying the limits of the home inspection informs you of any areas or items that require separate, specialized inspections. For example, if there is history of a roof leak, you may want to add on a mold inspection.

Asking this question can help you clarify what is included in the company’s standard home inspection, set appropriate expectations, and prepare effectively.

home inspector in Sarasota, FL

4. How much does a home inspection cost?

Asking about the cost upfront is important because home inspection fees can vary significantly depending on the type and scope of inspection being performed. On average, a basic 4-point home inspection costs $150-$200, but pricing is impacted by the home's square footage, age, and any additional services requested.

More comprehensive inspections that evaluate additional components like a property's septic system and well/water quality or get more specialized inspections for mold, radon, termites, etc., will increase the total cost. The home inspector's qualifications and experience level can also impact pricing.

Understanding the costs ahead of time allows you to properly budget and determine if upgrading to a more thorough inspection makes sense based on the home's condition and the investment you're about to make. 

5. How long will the inspection take?

Asking about the duration of the inspection helps you plan your day accordingly so that you can be present and discuss the findings afterward. It also gives an idea of the thoroughness of the inspection process.

The time needed to conduct a home inspection is not constant and can be influenced by the size of the property as well as how complex its systems are. 

Typically, a full home inspection should last about 2-3 hours for homes around 2,000 square feet, with an added half-hour for every additional 500 square feet. A four-point home inspection typically takes about 1-2 hours, also depending on square footage.

6. Can I join you during the inspection?

Confirming whether you can join the inspector during the inspection allows for a valuable opportunity to see the property through a professional's eyes, ask real-time questions, and gain immediate insights into the condition of the home.

Please note that there may be some parts of the inspection you can observe and other parts (e.g., the roof) that are unsafe for you to join the inspector.

7. How should I prepare for the inspection?

You can ask your home inspector this question to clarify, as some inspectors have specific recommendations for preparing for the inspection, while others don’t.

Generally, it’s good to clear any cluttered access areas, including the attic, basement, around the water heater, and under sinks, to make the inspector's job easier.

Next, gather any home repairs and maintenance documents for the inspector's review. Documents can provide insight into past issues and how they were addressed, offering a clearer picture of the home's condition. 

Finally, plan to be present during the house inspection and communicate with the seller. You and one of the homeowners need to be present to ask and answer questions as needed and accompany the inspector to show them certain areas of the home.

Questions to Ask a Home Inspector During the Inspectionquestions to ask home inspector

When you're walking through your future property with the home inspector, you’ll want to ask questions that illuminate any hidden issues and help you understand exactly what you're getting into.

Attending the home inspection and engaging with the inspector can provide key information about your potential new home. It’s an excellent opportunity to inquire about any specific issues, safety concerns, and maintenance tips from a seasoned home inspector. 

This approach will enable you to better understand the property's current condition and future upkeep requirements and lead to a well-informed choice regarding buying and price negotiations.

  1. Can you explain this further?
  2. Is this a major issue or a minor fix?
  3. Are there any immediate safety concerns?
  4. How old is the roof, and what is its expected lifespan?
  5. Are the electrical systems up to code?
  6. Is there any evidence of water damage or mold?
  7. Are there any signs of pests or infestations?
  8. Are there any structural issues?

General Questions

8. Can you explain this further?

If the inspector uses unfamiliar terms or mentions issues you don't understand, don't hesitate to ask for clarity. 

A good inspector should be able to explain the problem in simple terms and provide context to help you comprehend the potential implications. Understanding the inspector's findings thoroughly is important for making informed decisions during the negotiation process and addressing any identified issues.

Remember, a home inspection is an opportunity to gain valuable insights into the property's condition. Don't be afraid to ask questions and seek clarification until you fully understand the inspector's findings.

9. Is this a major issue or a minor fix?

When the inspector identifies a problem, it's crucial to determine whether it's a major issue that could significantly impact the property's value or livability or a minor fix that can be easily addressed. 

Major issues often involve structural defects, significant water damage, electrical or plumbing problems, or issues with major systems. These can be costly to repair and may require professional intervention. 

Minor fixes typically involve cosmetic or easily repairable problems that can be addressed with minimal effort and cost.

Distinguishing between major and minor issues will help you assess your ability and willingness to take on the necessary repairs or renovations. 

If only minor fixes are identified, you may feel more confident in proceeding with the purchase. However, if major issues are discovered, you'll need to weigh the potential costs and effort required against your budget and expectations and decide whether to negotiate, request the seller to address the issues or walk away from the deal.

10.  Are there any immediate safety concerns?

Safety should always be a top priority when purchasing a new home. Therefore, it’s important to ask the home inspector if there are any immediate safety concerns with the property. 

These might include issues with the heating system, electrical wiring, or structural defects that could pose a tripping hazard or result in water intrusion.

By addressing these major concerns and/or urgent repairs promptly, you can maintain the home’s value and prevent long-term damage.

System & Structure Questions

11. How old is the roof, and what is its expected lifespan?

A new roof is a huge expense. Therefore, assessing the roof's condition, age, and projected life expectancy helps forecast future costs. A roof that’s nearing the end of life could soon mean a major cost. This question aids in estimating upcoming maintenance costs and negotiating the home price if replacement is probable.

12. Is the electrical system up to code?

This question verifies the home's safety. Outdated or non-compliant electrical systems pose fire risks and may require costly upgrades. Understanding this can influence your decision or negotiation approach.

13. Is there any evidence of water damage or mold?

Early detection of water damage or mold can prevent health costs and expensive remediation later. These issues often indicate larger, hidden problems with potentially significant financial implications.

14. Are there any signs of pests or infestations?

Identifying pests early can avoid extensive damage and additional costs. This question helps assess the home's condition beyond the visible, ensuring you don't inherit a costly problem.

15. Are there any structural issues? 

Structural integrity is important for safety and long-term viability. Inquiring about structural issues allows you to understand the home's condition and potentially negotiate repair costs or reconsider the purchase if the damage is severe.

Remember, you're not just buying a house; you're buying a future home. Asking these questions doesn't just show you're interested—it shows you're invested in making a smart, informed decision about where you're going to live.

*Please note that home inspectors may not be able to fully answer some of these questions unless you have a specialized inspection or a full home inspection. (Not 4-point inspection)

Questions to Ask After a Home Inspection

home inspector inspecting a house

A day or two after your home inspection, you'll receive the full report of the inspector's findings. 

This is a great opportunity to ask any necessary follow-up questions to get to the root of problems and know how they may be impacting your house or the new house you may be buying.

Please remember: An inspector's role is to identify issues needing attention, not offer solutions or repair methods. They will advise you on which issues to address first and recommend a specialist for further guidance on how to proceed.

  1. Based on your findings, what should be my immediate priorities?
  2. Are there any specific repairs you recommend before moving in?
  3. Do you think I need a specialist to examine any issues further?
  4. Is there anything that wasn't inspected that I should have someone else check?
  5. When can I expect to receive the inspection report?
  6. Can I ask follow-up questions about the report?

16. Based on your findings, what should be my immediate priorities?

Asking this question helps you understand which issues are critical and should be addressed first. This prioritization is key to negotiating repairs with the seller or planning for future maintenance. 

17. Are there any specific repairs you recommend before moving in?

This question is crucial for identifying any problems that could significantly impact your living conditions or the house's functionality. It also helps in budgeting for repairs and determining if the investment is worthwhile, considering the home's current state.

DIY repairs can be a red flag, indicating potential problems with how repairs were conducted. This question helps identify any amateur work that might not meet professional standards and could require rectification.

18. Do you think I need a specialist to examine any issues further?

Some issues may require a more detailed examination by a specialist. This question helps you gauge the seriousness of the problems found and whether additional expert advice is needed to fully understand their extent and the potential costs involved in fixing them.

19. Is there anything that wasn't inspected that I should have someone else check?

Inspectors have limitations on what they can examine and definitive informative they can legally provide you with. By asking this, you ensure no stone is left unturned and that you're aware of any further investigation needed to assess the property's condition fully.

Questions About the Inspection Report

asking questions about the home inspection report

After the home inspection is complete, you'll receive a detailed report outlining everything the inspector found, including photos illustrating the home's condition. It's important to know when you'll get this report, what format it will be in, and how to follow up with your inspector if you have any other questions.

20. When will I get the home inspection report?

You can expect to receive the full home inspection report within 24-48 hours after the inspection. Getting this report quickly is key, especially if you're in a competitive housing market. The sooner you have the details on the home's condition, the faster you can make decisions and act.

21. Can I ask follow-up questions about the report?

After reviewing the report, your home inspector should be available to answer any other questions you have. This is key for fully understanding their findings. Feel free to reach out if anything is unclear or if you need more explanation on certain items.

The inspection report plays a big role in determining if repairs are needed and can help guide your negotiations on the home price. Your inspector should be ready to discuss any major issues found and conduct additional evaluations or specialized repairs if new concerns come up after the initial inspection. 

Open communication with your home inspector throughout the home-buying process is key to making informed decisions.

Conclusion - Knowing what to ask home inspectors is key!

Buying a home is one of the biggest investments you'll ever make. That's why it's so important to be an active participant in the home inspection process. 

By knowing the right questions to ask before, during, and after the inspection, you’ll gain a better understanding of the property's true condition and make confident decisions as prospective buyers.

Before hiring an inspector, take the time to verify their credentials, experience, and reputation. This due diligence ensures you're entrusting your potential new home to a knowledgeable professional. 

During the inspection itself, don't be a passive observer. Engage with the inspector, ask for clarification on unfamiliar terms or issues, and prioritize any safety concerns. Your proactive involvement allows you to see the property through an expert's lens.

Once you receive the detailed inspection report, review it thoroughly, and don't hesitate to follow up with additional questions. Open communication with your inspector is vital for comprehending the full scope of any problems and determining the necessary next steps, whether that's negotiating with the seller, budgeting for repairs, or bringing in specialized contractors.

Ultimately, the home inspection is about empowering you, the buyer, with the information needed to make one of life's biggest decisions. 

Don't let this invaluable opportunity pass you by – prepare yourself with the right questions, and approach your home inspection with confidence.

This comprehensive blog of information was put together by the team at Gulf Coast Home Inspections. If you need a home inspection in Sarasota or nearby Manatee County, be sure to reach out to schedule your inspection! We offer 4-point home inspections, full home inspections, wind mitigation inspections, and roof inspections.  You can also download/print our Comprehensive Home Inspection Checklist Here.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What will a home inspector typically evaluate?

A comprehensive home inspection covers a wide range of components within the property. This includes a thorough assessment of the home's structural elements, such as foundations, framing, floors, walls, ceilings, and roof. The exterior is examined for issues with siding, trim, windows, doors, decks, porches, and grading/drainage. All major systems are inspected as well - plumbing, electrical, HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning), fireplaces, and any attached garage areas. The interior is evaluated for proper insulation, ventilation, signs of moisture intrusion or pest problems, and the condition of surfaces, cabinets, and built-in appliances. Any deficiencies, safety hazards, or areas requiring repairs are detailed in the inspection report.

What things are big red flags in a home inspection?

Significant structural deficiencies are the biggest red flags, such as cracks or bulges in foundations, framing issues with load-bearing walls, and sloped or unlevel floors - indicating serious structural compromise. Extensive water damage, outdated/hazardous electrical systems (knob & tube, federal pacific panels), severely degraded roofs in need of full replacement, failing/ancient HVAC systems, shoddy plumbing work, and the presence of environmental hazards like asbestos, lead paint, or radon gas should all be viewed as potential deal breakers. These serious issues often require invasive, expensive repairs or even call into question the home's safety/livability. Careful consideration and renegotiation may be required.

Can the seller raise the price after inspection?

In most cases, no - once a buyer's offer is accepted and a valid real estate contract is signed, the seller is not legally permitted to arbitrarily raise the agreed-upon sale price after the home inspection contingency period. The only exceptions that may allow for price renegotiation are: 1) If the contract includes specific language permitting price adjustments based on inspection findings, or 2) If the seller failed to disclose known material defects that were subsequently discovered during the buyer's inspection. Very rarely, if significant new information comes to light impacting the property's value, the seller may have grounds to request a price increase, though the buyer can refuse. Otherwise, unilaterally raising the price would likely constitute a breach of contract, potentially enabling the buyer to void the deal or seek damages legally.

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