Are Home Inspections a Waste of Money?

In the Northern Virginia area (like Fairfax County, Loudoun County etc) the most common inspection when buying a home would be a general Home Inspection. As some areas in the Northern Virginia region has high levels of Radon, radon testing is also done regularly (particularly in homes with basements.)

A general Home Inspection is a great start to get an overview of the condition of the home and to identify potential trouble spots. At Soldsense we recommend a home inspection to all our clients (though the need for one may vary based on the type of home and the experience/knowledge of the purchaser.) The price of a home inspection varies based on the specific property, but somewhere in the $300-$500 range is typical. The inspection may take an hour for a small 1 bedroom condo or 4-5 hours for a larger home (and more for mansions with a lot of complicated systems.)

Over the last few years some inspection companies have started to offer new optional services like mold testing and infrared cameras. Whether those services are worth it at the initial inspection or should be reserved for secondary inspections is still being debated.

Radon is prevalent in Northern Virginia so a Radon Inspection and test is often a worthwhile investment for the peace of mind can give. A radon test may cost $150 or so and will indicate if the radon levels in a home are above that recommended by EPA. Some areas and homes are at a higher risk than others – particularly homes with a below grade basement and/or little air circulation. Remediation for radon is typically in the $700-$1400 range.

If a home has a chimney we will often recommend a chimney inspection. While a home inspector may inspect the outside of the chimney and the firebox, they are rarely able to discover serious chimney issues. Chimney issues are almost always expensive to fix. They can also rarely be deferred as they are safety issues. A cracked liner or leaning chimney can cost in the $10’s of thousands to replace or repair. Contrast that with a $75 to $150 inspection and you quickly see how the small upfront inspection expense is worth it.

If the plumbing in a home appears to have issues or there is a bright green fertilized line in front of the home (could be a sign of waste line breakage), you may want to have a plumber come and inspect the home. Especially in older homes the sewage line could have issues caused by age, settling or tree roots. A camera  inspection of the sewer lines is in the $500-$1000 range – so it is not really something buyers would do for every purchase. However, if there are signs of issues (a bunch of  Roto-Router stickers on the sewer clean-out may be such a sign…) it may be a worthwhile investments. Replacing a sewer line could be thousands and thousands.

The list of potential issues goes on and on. The home may be on a well or a septic or drainfield system, may have a pool, soil or erosion issues, have an oil tank(above or below ground), a leaky roof, or an old HVAC system.

Remember that no home is perfect. There will always be issues. However, with all the necessary inspections done you can purchase the home with the confidence of knowing what you are getting yourself into.

If you are looking to purchase a home in Northern Virginia, we can help! Call us at 703 560-3424 or contact us anytime.

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About The Author
Are Andresen

Are Andresen is the principal broker owner of Soldsense Realty LLC. He is also an experienced property investor and help clients find and manage properties in Northern Virginia.