The Truth About Home Inspections (And Do You Really Need One)

In the process of purchasing a home, obtaining a thorough home inspection is essential for making informed decisions and ensuring a sound investment. A comprehensive inspection, conducted by a qualified and accredited professional, can help potential homebuyers identify any visible flaws, potential safety hazards, and maintenance requirements. Understanding the scope of a home inspection, including its limitations and the importance of attending the inspection, empowers buyers to ask the right questions, address concerns, and negotiate confidently. With this knowledge, homebuyers can secure their dream homes at fair prices while avoiding costly mistakes and future regrets.

This article in particular will delve into the world of home inspections, offering insights on how to select a reputable inspector, understanding the limitations of inspections, and addressing some of the challenges within the industry.

A home inspection report is a crucial document that outlines the perceived defects of a property, as identified by a professional home inspector. Unfortunately, home inspection reports can sometimes be misleading and problematic for homebuyers. This is partly due to the opacity of the home inspection industry, especially in Michigan, where there is no licensing requirement to become a home inspector. In fact, anyone with a business card can claim to be a home inspector.

Despite these challenges, it is essential to emphasize the importance of obtaining a home inspection when purchasing a property, as they are invaluable in preventing clients from entering into unfavorable deals. Home inspections not only identify properties that should be avoided altogether but also highlight issues that warrant a price reduction.


In the following sections, this article will discuss:

  1. The business of home inspection: Understand the industry and its potential shortcomings to make informed decisions when hiring an inspector.

  2. Finding a reputable home inspector: Learn the key factors to consider when selecting a home inspector in the Metro Detroit area, or anywhere else for that matter.

  3. Limitations of home inspections: Gain a better understanding of what inspectors can and cannot do, and how to interpret their findings.

  4. Solutions to industry challenges: Explore possible ways to improve the home inspection process and mitigate its shortcomings, ensuring a smoother home-buying experience.

By understanding the significance of home inspections, potential homebuyers can make well-informed decisions during the property purchasing process. A meticulously conducted home inspection can safeguard buyers from incurring substantial expenses and help them secure an ideal home at a reasonable price.

There are three primary types of home inspections, each serving different functions. The first type is a buyer's home inspection, which is designed to protect the buyer. The second type is an FHA or VA required inspection conducted by an appraiser, focusing mainly on health and safety items to protect the bank, not the buyer. The third type is a city inspection, which may be required by some municipalities and is limited in scope. City inspectors often check for basic functionality but can miss significant issues.

For the purposes of this article, the focus will be on home inspectors rather than the various types of home inspections. 

Hiring a Qualified Inspector

It is essential to note that not all home inspectors are construction experts. In the past, many home inspectors had hands-on experience in the construction industry, such as working as builders, plumbers, or electricians. However, this has changed, and many inspectors now rely on training courses to gain knowledge in the field.

When searching for a home inspector, it is highly recommended to choose one who is accredited by either the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) or the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (NACHI). Both organizations have stringent certification processes that require in-field training, a minimum number of completed inspections, and periodic testing and code updates. Selecting an inspector certified by either association increases the likelihood of finding a knowledgeable and competent professional.

Limitations of a Home Inspection

Secondly, it is essential for potential homebuyers to understand the limitations of a home inspection. A home inspector's primary responsibility is to identify and document visible flaws in a property. They are trained professionals who examine visible surfaces and areas, including the attic and foundation, provided they have access to them. However, they will not move furniture, take items out of closets, or perform any invasive procedures that could cause damage. Most home inspectors will not comment on possible repairs or estimate costs, partly because many do not have a construction background, but also due to liability and legal constraints.

If a home inspection report highlights significant issues, buyers should request additional time from their real estate agent to obtain quotes from licensed and insured contractors who specialize in the relevant fields, such as mold remediation, electrical repairs, or foundation work.


It is also important to recognize that home inspectors cannot inspect everything. Although they may request easy access to attics, mechanical systems, and basements or crawl spaces, they are often faced with tight spaces and other limitations. Hidden issues, such as active leaks between walls or mold in hard-to-reach areas of the attic, may not be detected during the inspection. Buyers should pay attention to statements in the inspection report indicating that certain areas were not accessible or fully inspected.

To ensure a thorough inspection, homebuyers should ask their real estate agents to request that the seller's agent remove furniture and other obstacles that block access to critical areas of the property. If necessary, an inspection should be delayed until these conditions can be met to avoid a limited or incomplete assessment.


Don't Skip Your Inspection

Lastly, it is crucial for homebuyers to attend their home inspection. Buyers should be present during the inspection for several reasons. First, being on-site allows for immediate clarification of questions and concerns, eliminating the need for time-consuming follow-up communication. Second, the inspection report can sometimes be misleading, with seemingly minor issues appearing more serious and vice versa. Lastly, home inspectors can provide valuable advice on routine maintenance for various home systems, helping to extend their lifespan.


To ensure a smooth home inspection process, here is a recap of essential advice for homebuyers:
  1. To find a reputable inspector, ask your real estate agent and friends or family who have recently purchased a home in the area for recommendations. Be sure to call and speak with potential inspectors to gauge your comfort level with them.

  2. Inquire about the inspector's experience, background, and previous profession. If they have conducted fewer than 1,000 inspections, consider looking elsewhere.

  3. If the inspector seems unreliable or difficult to contact, move on to another candidate.

  4. When major issues arise during the inspection, don't panic. Instead, consult with a contractor to obtain repair quotes and work with your agent to negotiate the best possible outcome.

  5. It's acceptable to continue viewing other properties while waiting for inspection results or during negotiations. This can help reaffirm your decision or lead you to a more suitable home.

  6. Remember, there are no obligations to buy a specific home. It's essential to feel confident in your decision and eliminate any lingering doubts.

It's important to remember that home inspectors work for the buyer, not the seller or the agent. While the majority of inspectors do an excellent job, it is unrealistic to expect them to find every single issue. By attending the inspection, asking questions, and working with a qualified inspector, homebuyers can make well-informed decisions and find the perfect home at a fair price.


In conclusion, obtaining a thorough home inspection is a vital step in the home buying process, as it helps potential buyers make informed decisions, avoid costly surprises, and secure their dream home at a fair price. By understanding the purpose and limitations of a home inspection, choosing a qualified and accredited inspector, attending the inspection, and addressing any concerns that may arise, buyers can navigate the complexities of purchasing a property with confidence. A comprehensive home inspection not only provides valuable insights into the condition of the property but also equips buyers with the knowledge and tools needed to maintain their investment in the years to come. It is crucial for homebuyers to recognize the importance of a home inspection and to be proactive in ensuring a smooth, successful experience.



Posted by Michael Perna on
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