How Often Should You Get a Home Inspection?

by Hannah Stephens
A man with a white hard hat holding a clipboard, inspect house

Home inspections can be a nerve-racking but necessary part of selling or buying a home. However, some diligent homeowners also add a whole-house inspection to their maintenance checklist, even if they have no intention of moving on. 

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The obvious question is: Why get a home inspection without a good reason? Knowledge is power, and knowing as much as possible about your home's condition is an excellent way to protect your family and nip minor issues in the bud.

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What Is a Home Inspection and What Does It Include?

A home inspection involves visually inspecting your home to assess its condition and check for safety concerns. Generally, professional home inspectors check your HVAC, plumbing and electrical systems and look for issues requiring repair or that could cause a fire or health hazard. They may also check for:

  • Infestations
  • Fire damage
  • Leaks and water damage

If you've ever bought or sold a home, you've likely experienced a home inspection already. Buyers often commission an inspection of a house to explore whether it needs costly repairs or has potentially dangerous faults before committing to the purchase. Meanwhile, sellers may arrange their own home inspection to give them a heads-up on any issues requiring repair before putting their house on the market. 

It's important to understand how home inspections differ from home appraisals. Mortgage companies commission home appraisals to determine a property's value before agreeing to lend money for its purchase. These appraisals don't provide the same in-depth assessment as a home inspection.

Some home inspection companies offer specialized services to check for issues such as radon, asbestos and sewer line problems. For example, you may decide to schedule an asbestos inspection if the house was built during a period when asbestos use in buildings was widespread. Often, specialized home inspections cost more than regular services.

How Often Should You Schedule a Whole-House Inspection?

Buying or selling a house isn't the only reason to hire a home inspector. Many homeowners schedule regular home inspections to help them spot issues with their properties. How often you need a home inspection depends on various factors, such as your home's age and the condition of your plumbing and electrical system. 

You're unlikely to need an annual home inspection unless you have specific concerns. Many home inspectors advise scheduling an inspection of your house every two to five years, and some people also book an inspection after a major weather event, such as a storm or flood.

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What Are the Benefits of a Home Inspection?

Many people never have their homes checked, so why get a home inspection if you don't strictly need one? Put simply, a qualified home inspector can spot problems you might miss. Your inspector can check hard-to-reach places, such as crawl spaces and roofs, and alert you to problems before they develop into larger, more expensive issues. 

Regular home inspections can also catch problems that could lead to health issues. Having a radon inspection and getting a home inspector to check your home for mold can uncover hidden issues that could impact your family's health if left untreated. 

Knowing the status of your home's electrical, HVAC and plumbing systems is an effective way to spot issues that could cause a fire or flood. It can also help you decide whether to replace an aging system. Some home inspectors can assess your system's efficiency, helping you find ways to save money on your utility bills.

Finally, a home inspection is a great way to get an unbiased, informed opinion on your home's condition. This information can be invaluable when the time comes to sell your house. It can also help you evaluate advice from contractors hired to repair or upgrade the building.

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