A home inspection is really just a contingency, but it’s such an important contingency that it deserves some special consideration. At heart, a home inspection is just what it sounds like: hiring a professional to inspect a home, in order to make sure that there are no hidden issues, defects, or safety concerns. Beyond this, the home inspection is a huge part of the home buying process, and it can potentially reveal major problems or defects in the home you have fallen in love with. It pays to be familiar with the process of a home inspection, and to be prepared to hear bad news once the inspection has been completed.

Home inspectors typically focus on the structure, construction, and mechanical systems of the house and will make the buyer aware of any needed repairs. Generally, an inspector checks (and estimates repair costs for): the electrical system, plumbing and waste disposal, the water heater, insulation and ventilation, the HVAC system, water source and quality, pest presence or damage, the foundation, and doors, windows, ceilings, walls, floors, and the roof. These inspections and assessments don’t valuate the home; rather, they serve as a veritable checklist of the needed repairs in a home, from major ones like roof replacement or repair, to minor ones like fixing broken light fixtures.

It is of prime importance to hire a home inspector who is both qualified and experienced. Remember: as a potential buyer of a property, the home inspection is your safeguard, so you want the absolute best person to assess this major investment. The ultimate goal of every home inspection is to uncover any prohibitively expensive structural problems, or potential deal-breaker issues like mold from flooding or rot from a leaky roof. The home inspection gives the buyer the opportunity to assess the property as it really is, and to know, exactly, what sort of home they may be getting themselves into.

Because issues that arise during the home inspection can be used to break contract, the home inspection is generally a high hurdle in the course of the purchasing process. Once cleared to everyone’s satisfaction, the contract is well on its way to fruition and the buyer is one step closer to owning their new home.