A home inspection is a limited,  of the condition of a home, often in connection with the sale of that home. Home inspections are usually conducted by a home inspector who has the training and certifications (ASHI) to perform such inspections. The inspector prepares and delivers to the client a written report of findings (usually very detailed). The client then uses the knowledge gained to make informed decisions about their pending real estate purchase. The home inspector describes the condition of the home at the time of inspection but does not guarantee future condition, efficiency, or life expectancy of systems or components. A home inspection is anywhere from 20-100 pages depending on the issues found.

Ok that is the definition of a home inspector.  The general description of a home inspector is that the home inspector, inspects a home in a detailed manner and gives a written report and usually a verbal description on particular item in the home.  However, the home inspector can only observe conditions that are visible.  In other words, the home inspector cannot and  generally DO NOT open walls, disconnect components or do inspections that involve other deconstruction of home parts or items. 

They do what is call a NON-INVASIVE inspection.  Kind of sort of like a  physical.  During a physical the doctor uses tools and knowledge to give you a general overview of your health.  Ironically, a home inspection can feel much like a physical “in the end”, much like a Prostate Exam.  For both sides Buyer and Seller. 




Ok I will break down the issues and pit fall for both buyer and seller in terms of home inspections. 

  • Sellers Side issues

As a Seller, home inspections always come with great angst.  They have already filled out their Sellers Disclosure. Seller Disclosure is a form of disclosure where the seller identifies any and all specific problems with their home (that they are aware of) and is a legal document. Now they have to endure an inspection that will ALWAYS, I TRULY MEAN ALWAYS WILL FIND ISSUES.  Even new construction homes I have seem come back with “issues”

In my opinion, many home inspectors may almost feel obligated to earn their payment and find “something” or things to justify their involvement in the process.

 Now, the inspection comes back with “issues” and you as the seller must choose whether to :

  1. give credits for negotiated repair items to get fixed by buyer
  2. fix items yourself before sale
  3. refuse and lose the sale
  4. any combination of the above

Now remember the only items that are definitely required in most cases to be “mitigated” are the ones listed as material defects.  Sometimes listing issues that are more signs of deferred maintainance or other minor issues, become pretty big when listed on paper and cumulative with ten (10) other small items.  It would make a good house look not so good and often scare first time buyers.

JWK Inspections: “What is Inspected”


From the Buyers side it is a bit more involved since of course you are the one needing/ requesting the inspection in most cases and you are again the one paying.  Usually a home inspection for a buyer has two or three purposes:

  1. As a contingency to walk away from the deal if needed.
  2. To determine the cost, state of “health”, and concerns related to the property.
  3. As a negotiating tool to negotiate additional terms, repairs  or price adjustments in addition to the already agreed upon terms.

With this in mind, the factor most important is the ultimate goal or purpose of the inspection for the buyer.  Do they want a cheaper price? do they want repairs to an already seemingly sound home,? Do they want an “escape clause”, do they love the home and are being safe or responsible or any combination of the above.  Their ultimate goal matters and should be understood and discussed between buyer agent and buyer. 

The home inspector should be an impartial judge , reporting on the condition of the home without offering unsolicited opinions.  THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT.  VERY IMPORTANT.  I have witnessed new or inexperienced home inspectors either scaring home buyers into backing out of a deal or assuring them that a condition is “fine”.  Also a home inspector should have a current knowledge base on codes, exceptions, repairs and costs of repairs for many items in the hom AND NOT AFRAID TO RESEARCH SUCH INFORMATION AND GET BACK TO THEIR CLIENT.  This is important.  I recently had a deal fall apart due to a seemingly over zealous and a bit inexperienced home inspector WRITE in a report that a water heater that was “off”, was inoperable and worst yet state that the cost of the replacement STANDARD WATER HEATER was between $1500-$2500, WOW !!! 

I cannot name the company because I did not hire them but I can tell you that their estimate  is at least $700.00 TOO MUCH from even their lowest estimate.

Below is a cost estimate put together by a home inspection chain.

Cost Estimate: Repair or Remodel

Something important to remember is that as with any home or apartment you currently like in now, they are and will always be issues that need “looking at” in a residence with some being an emergency and other being a matter of preference or convenience.  A home inspector (in my opinion should point out issues, but also make sure to put them in perspective as to the cost,and overall effect on the home.  I am not saying to minimize issues, but I am sure the home they live in are not clear of “issues” not is any home they inspect.  I think they should protect home owners from bad buys and horror stories but to also be professional that can relate to buyers (especially 1st time buyers) and their already heightened anxiety around this most important purpose.


Now for a clip of the most famous home inspector MIKE HOLMES the INSPECTOR.  Note: What he does is far over and above what is considered non-invasive inspection.  Issues are highlighted for the show and there are many homes that are not this way.  This show is sensationalized for television just as Reality Shows are as well.  Not to say the issues don’t happen but, Really?


About dirktherealtor

Realtor at Realty Mark - CityScape. I am a tech savy eRealtor with expertise in Philadelphia and surrounding areas, specializing in 1st time home buyers/ sellers and investors. Father of 2 active children, living in the Cheltenham area of Pa. I am active in the community and online.

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