hero image for blog Do You Really Need A Home Inspection? What Buyers Need To Know

Do You Really Need A Home Inspection? What Buyers Need To Know

Photo: Old Interior By Nolan Issac


Emily Primbs


Apr 2, 2024


Apr 7, 2024

You've been searching for the perfect property and have finally found it. Whether it's your first place, a second home, or an investment property, the excitement surrounding this big milestone is palpable. You can't help but imagine your personal touch on each room. Maybe you plan on living here full time, or will gather with friends and family for special vacations.

You know that other potential buyers might also be interested, and you want to make sure you have a competitive offer. How can you make your offer stand out?

Even with rising interest rates, along the Wasatch Mountains and in alpine towns across the west, homes are in high demand. Because seller's want as few contingencies as possible, it can be tempting to skip putting a home inspection contingency in your offer, especially in a competitive market.

The Wasatch Mountains & SLC Suburbs by Nic Y C

And if you're buying a vacation home, or think you know what to look for when buying a luxury home, you may consider yourself a more seasoned buyer who can weigh the risks of not including that contingency. Even new homes can have problems that aren't discernible to the naked eye, so don't pass on a home inspection based on the build date.

In this guide, Mountain Luxury will explore why home inspections are generally recommended for all potential home buyers and what an experienced home inspector will be looking for.

This checklist can help you feel confident knowing when to walk away after a home inspection with no risk to your earnest money deposit. You may be able to use a home inspection report as leverage for negotiation. If significant issues are discovered, buyers can request repairs, price reductions, or even closing cost credits from sellers.

Why A Home Inspection Is Recommended

Fixer Upper By AJ Wallace

Unless you're buying a complete fixer-upper, your prospective home will likely look like it's in good condition. Getting a home inspection will ensure there are no big surprises or unexpected costly repairs after closing. It will allow you to back out of the offer without losing your earnest money deposit if necessary, and in certain situations you can even use the home inspection results to bring down the asking price.

A thorough inspection can last several hours, as an experienced inspector will review the property, scrutinizing it, and assessing its present status. They will be looking for any issues that weren't in the seller's disclosure.

Home Inspection Checklist:

  • Foundation — The foundation will be inspected for any cracks, excessive settlement, or structural problems. Over time, these will weaken the structural integrity of the home. Foundation issues can cause floors to sag and even make it hard for doors or windows to close properly. Cracks can lead to moisture problems like mold growth or basement flooding.
  • Roof & Attic— New roofs are a large expense, so the age and remaining lifespan will be estimated. The roof's condition will be examined for any sagging, missing or buckling shingles, and to be sure the flashing and gutters have been properly installed. If water can't be directed away from critical joints and openings, it can cause all sorts of water damage to the roof, siding, and the foundation of the home. In the attic, the state of the insulation and ventilation will be assessed, and the inspector will look for any signs of leaks or pests.
  • Plumbing — The water pressure will be checked because low or super high water pressure can indicate plumbing problems. The condition of the pipes will be examined for signs of corrosion, rust, or deterioration. Any visible leaks in pipes under sinks, around water heaters, or in crawl spaces will be noted.
  • Electrical System — The electrical system will be evaluated to identify potential safety hazards in the circuit breakers or fuses, electrical panel, outlets and switches, or wiring.
  • Heating & HVAC Systems — In the heating system, the furnace condition will be checked for signs of wear, rust, or corrosion. The inspector will examine the heat exchanger for any cracks or damage, and they'll verify that the vents and flues are properly connected. For the cooling system, the indoor evaporator coil, refrigerant lines, and air filters will all be checked for proper function.
  • Exterior — The condition of exterior siding and trim materials will be examined for signs of damage, warping, rot, or deterioration. Masonry and brickwork will be checked for cracks and shifting which can cause moisture problems, compromise structural integrity, and create energy inefficiency.
  • Interior — Much of the damage found in a home's interior will come from the poor condition within other systems. Water stains on walls and ceilings will indicate larger problems with the roof or siding. Cracks and uneven or sloping floors could signify structural or foundational problems.
  • Safety Features — The home will be checked for the presence of functional smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors on each level of the home and within bedrooms. Inspectors will verify that all windows meet the requirements for emergency egress in case of fire or other emergencies, and also the stability of handrails and staircases.

Red Flags To Look Out For:

Old Interior By Nolan Issac
  • Mold — Visible mold growth indicates potential moisture issues and can have health implications. It's important to note that not all mold is toxic or hazardous, and the presence of mold doesn't mean the home is uninhabitable. Mold testing or air quality testing may be advised. It should be taken seriously and any necessary mold remediation should be conducted by professionals trained in mold removal and mitigation. It can become costly to fix due to the additional costs associated with replacing dysfunctional systems and damaged materials like drywall, insulation, or flooring.
  • Radon — Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that can enter homes through the soil and become concentrated at levels that can pose health risks. It is colorless, odorless, and tasteless, which makes it difficult to detect without proper testing. Over time, the gas decays and releases tiny radioactive particles that can be inhaled and lead to lung tissue damage and increases the risk of lung cancer. It is wise to have a radon test conducted for peace of mind. If elevated levels are detected, a radon mitigation system that redirects the gas from the soil beneath the home will need to be installed.
  • Lead Paint — Be aware of the potential for lead-based paint in older homes, especially ones built before 1978, the year it was banned in the United States. Testing will determine if there is the presence of lead, which poses health risks to young children and pregnant women in particular. Lead exposure can lead to lead poisoning, which can cause developmental delays, learning disabilities, and other health problems. There are several lead hazard reduction measures including stabilizing or encapsulating the paint, repainting with non-lead based paint, or removing the lead-based paint and repainting.
  • Well Water — Buyers should consider well water testing an essential part of their due diligence when putting an offer on a property with a private well. You will want to be sure of the quality of water and flow rate, because new wells are expensive to drill!
  • Septic System — Septic issues can be costly to repair or replace, so it's essential to identify potential problems early. Look out for these signs during your home inspection: foul odors that could be a sign of sewage backup, areas of unusually green grass near the septic tank that may indicate issues with wastewater leaking to the surface, soggy ground, slow drains and toilets, and inadequate documentation that doesn't provide insight into the system's maintenance.

Is Waiving A Home Inspection Contingency Worth The Risk?

In a competitive market, it may be tempting to waive a home inspection contingency to make your offer more appealing. However, having one in place protects you from unforeseen, costly, or dangerous issues after your purchase.

Home Inspection costs vary depending on the area and can range from $300 to $600 or more. Considering the potential savings from repairs, safety, and peace of mind it offers, a home inspection is a worthwhile expense.

A vital step in the real estate transaction process that benefits both buyers and sellers, a home inspection provides essential information about the property's condition, helping to ensure a smooth and transparent transaction.

Find A Trusted Inspector

A Luxury Mountain Modern Home In Huntsville, Utah

Looking at homes in Northern Utah? Our Mountain Luxury team of realtors can help you navigate the area's competitive real estate market and connect you with trusted inspectors. Explore ski in ski out properties at Powder Mountain — a top ski resort destination in Utah, or luxury mountain homes in Eden, Utah and Huntsville, Utah.

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