What does a home inspector do, anyway?


A home inspector. Homebuyers know they should get one, but for some, that’s about where understanding ends. So we thought we’d give readers a little better idea of what a home inspector does. Ready? Let’s go.

A home inspector tells you what’s wrong. Home inspectors are experts in their fields and are on the lookout for conditions that are unsafe or unhealthy or could become unsafe or unhealthy.

At a basic level, a home inspector will go through your home and examine the following:

  • exterior, including landscaping and decks
  • basement, including structure and foundation
  • roof
  • attic
  • plumbing
  • electrical system
  • heating and air conditioning
  • all rooms


A home inspector may also offer to test for things like radon (radioactive gas) and allergens.

There are many things that can go wrong in a home. It could be a deck is aging and deteriorating in places not easy to see but that are essential to the stability of the structure. Or it could be that the heating and air conditioning system is very old, even though it appears in good condition. It could be there are stains that indicate the possibility of mold. The home inspector’s primary concern is helping clients know what they are buying and what will need to be addressed before or after the sale goes through.

A home inspector tells you what’s right. This is the kind of news homeowners love to hear – what’s in good shape and won’t require repair for at least a period of time. Fortunately for the home inspector, homebuyers and homeowners, this kind of good news is often delivered. It’s not all gloom and doom when it comes to inspections!  It’s important to note, however, that an inspection is a snapshot of the home on the day of the inspection. There is no guarantee, for example, that a water heater working well today will do so in a year. This is why it’s important to get periodic inspections even after moving into a home.

A home inspector writes reports. This might sound obvious and boring, but report writing is a significant part of what the home inspector does. You, the lender and other entities will want a written statement of the inspection findings, not only for peace of mind and record keeping, but as a reminder of what to repair.

A typical report includes room-by-room descriptions of findings. Color photographs and sometimes even drawings are used to highlight comments, as are technical information sheets. If outside evaluation is needed for parts of the home not covered in inspections (such as pools, alarms and sprinklers), it will be noted on the report.

A home inspector educates. Homeowners are not, nor are they expected to be, experts in everything.   A homeowner who has never studied or worked construction, for example, might not be familiar with which cracks in a basement floor signify potential problems and which are superficial. As a professional in the field, a home inspector can explain what is being examined and why, what you should be on the lookout for and when you should call in a service person.

While home inspectors have interesting jobs, they are not magicians, fortune tellers or psychics. The good ones, though, are knowledgeable, observant, thorough and honest. Call Eric at 703-657-3207 or email eric.boll@pillartopost.com.