What You Need to Know About the Home Inspection Process

By Timothy Waller

|10 min read

It’s important when buying a home to remember that no home is perfect. Buyers always seem to love the home they contracted to purchase until the Home Inspection reveals the home’s deficiencies. This is a normal process when buying a home. This is also the phase of the transaction when most deals fall apart even though in most instances they shouldn’t have.

Many buyers start to feel anxious as they read through the Home Inspection Report. These reports can be anywhere from 25-100 pages long. They include an abundance of photos pointing out every little item that might need to be fixed or addressed. It’s easy to understand why this might make buyers feel like they just bought the proverbial money pit.

If you take the practical approach and remove the emotional stress from it, you’ll begin to realize that maybe things aren’t as bad as you first thought they were.

Remember, every home has its own issues and the home inspector you hired is doing the job you asked them to do. That’s why it’s so important to take a few days to read and reread the report so you can digest the entire contents of your home inspection.

Below are four different categories that you should use. This will help understand what is serious in the report and what is not.

home inspection process

1. Make a list of all major issues:

This includes things like:

  • roof damage or age,
  • foundational cracks,
  • electrical issues,
  • exterior siding issues,
  • termite damage or any wood destroying insect infestation,
  • heating system problems,
  • cooling system problems,
  • major plumbing issues such as the main sewer line,
  • hot water heater
  • and any other major components that need to be repaired or replaced.

2. Make a second list of normal wear and tear items:

This list should include items that have reached the end of their useful life but are still in good working order. These items could be things such as:

  • heating systems,
  • hot water heaters,
  • windows,
  • air conditioning systems,
  • appliances
  • and everything else that is old but still operating.

3. Make a third list of environmental issues:

These are items that can be potentially dangerous like:

  • leaking underground oil tanks,
  • underground oil tanks that have not been properly abandoned,
  • septic systems,
  • high levels of radon exposure exceeding 4.0 Pico Curies,
  • well water portability,
  • mold issues,
  • water leakage in basement, etc.

4. Finally, make a fourth list of cosmetic issues and common maintenance:

This last list would include items like:

  • bathroom needs re-grouting,
  • ripped screens,
  • cracked windows,
  • cracked tiles,
  • caulking,
  • leaky sinks,
  • leaky faucets,
  • driveways that are cracked and need to be filled and sealed etc.

Your main points of concern should be all the items that are listed in your major defects and environmental lists. No matter which house you buy, more than likely there will be issues that are considered cosmetic, normal wear and tear items, and items that have reached the end of their useful life but are still in good working order. You’re not buying the perfect house so set your expectations accordingly.

If you expect the seller to give you a huge credit or reduce the price of the home because you want every little detail fixed that was revealed in the report, you’ll probably never buy a home. Again, if you set your expectations accordingly with the Home Inspection Process, then you’ll be well on your way to living the American Dream and becoming a proud homeowner.

After the Inspection Get Professional Estimates on the Work

During the next phase in the home inspection process, you will have to get your own estimates from professional licensed contractors. This will help you determine how much it’s going to cost to either correct or replace the major or environmental defects.

Once you have a good idea and know how much the cost will be to correct/replace the major issues, you can then ask for a reduction in the sale price based on your estimates. You can also ask the seller to correct the defects prior to closing.

My recommendation would be to take a credit/reduction rather than have the seller replace or fix the items because if you allow the seller to do the work before you close, and it’s not done to your satisfaction there might be problems.

Most of the sellers realize that if they don’t address the major items for you then they’ll probably have to address them for someone else. Please keep this in mind, the seller may or may not correct or credit any of your repair requests.

Final Home Inspection Advice

My one last piece of advice for the Home Inspection Process is this, please make sure you thoroughly interview three to five qualified licensed home inspectors that are members of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) before making your selection and hiring them. You are making one of the most important financial decisions you’ll ever make in your life.

Ask your family and friends for recommendations on if they know of any good Home Inspectors. Make sure you look at online reviews and ask them for personal references. I hope this article was helpful.

Good luck and happy house hunting.

If you’re in need of an agent in northeast New Jersey, check out and message Timothy Waller.

Timothy Waller

Timothy Waller

Timothy Waller has been a Licensed Realtor and Broker in the New Jersey area for the last 38 years. He is one of New Jersey's Top Consumer Advocates working diligently to protect the interests of home buyers and sellers. He has appeared on Fox Business as a guest on Varney & Co.

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