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It is common for buyers to make an offer contingent upon one or more home inspections. These inspections are performed for, and paid by, the buyer. The seller must consent to the inspection, but is not required to correct, or provide compensation for, any problems identified. If the seller agrees to an inspection as part of accepting the offer, the seller must allow the inspection within the time specified in the offer. If the inspection findings are acceptable to the buyer, the closing process can begin. If the inspection uncovers problems, the buyer may be able to withdraw the offer, or may propose an alternative to resolve the issues. The seller may agree to all, a portion, or none, of any request made by the Buyer.

Property inspections should be conducted by professional inspectors - someone trained in the field that has no outside interests in the property. The buyer should be present when inspections are performed, so that the inspector can describe the process and findings personally. It is a valuable time to learn how the house has aged, as well as the details of any issues. Also, as houses do age, you can learn many helpful tips on how to care for your home in the future.

The Inspector Should:

  • Look for any serious structural, mechanical, and/or other major defect in the property
  • Examine all systems, including heat, air conditioning, electrical, and plumbing
  • Examine the general construction quality and condition of the house
  • Spend time checking the exterior of the house, including the roof, foundation, and chimneys
  • Check the basement, including wiring, plumbing, heating, and air conditioning
  • Check the attic for proper insulation and venting
  • Check all interior rooms for proper venting, insulation, and electrical outlets
  • Run all appliances and plumbing fixtures to verify working condition
  • Check all bathrooms to see if moisture has affected the areas around the tub or shower
  • Inspect for other items you may have requested, such as insects, termites, and other pests


Insects and pests are significant contributing factors to structural problems. If the infestation is new, a structural problem may not exist yet, or the home inspection may not detect it. Insect, termite, and pest inspections may, or may not, be included as part of the services offered by your home inspection firm. Buyers should verify that their home inspection service includes this: if not, contract separately for it.

Beginning in 1978, federal law mandated the removal of lead as an additive in residential paints, and prohibited the use of lead paint in the construction of homes built after that date. As a result, properties built after 1978 should be free from lead-based paint, although a risk assessment and/or inspection is still recommended.

Properties built before 1978 may present exposure to lead from lead-based paint that may place young children at risk of poisoning. The federal law is particularly concerned with protecting children under six years of age and pregnant women. Some states' laws are even more stringent than the federal law, and directed at lead hazards other than those associated only with lead-based paint.

Buyers should familiarize themselves with relevant laws in their states. A risk assessment or inspection for possible lead-based hazards is recommended prior to the purchase of any home.


The seller has the following options when considering offers:

  • Well Water (quality and quantity)
  • Radon
  • Environmental Hazards
  • Septic