That’s why it’s a good idea to hire a home inspector—because contrary to what you might think, inspections are useful even after the home-buying process is over.
In this post, we’ll take a look at what a home maintenance inspection is and what differentiates it from a standard home inspection. Then, we’ll go over four reasons why you should consider making a home maintenance inspection a regular part of your home care routine.
What is a home maintenance inspection?
A home maintenance inspection is like a checkup for your home. It’s done by a professional home inspector, who examines the entire property’s structure, components, and systems to look for anything that might be in need of replacement or repair.
Your home inspector will conduct a thorough examination of the home, looking at things like:
- Walls, floors, and ceilings
- HVAC system
- Roof and attic
- Basement and foundation
- Plumbing and sewage
- Electrical system
- The exterior of the home
This visual inspection typically takes anywhere from two to four hours, or even longer for large properties. It’s standard for the client to be present while the inspector does the walk-through of the home.
Afterward, the inspector will create a detailed inspection report and send it to the client within a day or two. This report will include all of the inspector’s findings, from minor issues to major problems. As a homeowner, you can use this report to make decisions on what types of repairs need to be completed to keep your home in good condition.
What’s the difference between a maintenance inspection and a standard home inspection?
Usually, when people reference a home inspection, they’re talking about the kind that’s performed before a home changes hands.
A standard home inspection is most commonly ordered by home buyers in the time period between when their offer on the home is accepted and when the purchase is finalized. This type of inspection helps buyers understand any visible issues with the home, including glaring (and potentially costly) problems that might need to be addressed before the sale is completed.
A seller may also order a pre-listing inspection before listing the property on the market. The seller might use the inspection results as a checklist of items to address or fix before putting the property on the market, in order to get the most money from the sale as possible.
A home maintenance inspection, by contrast, is one that’s ordered by the homeowner as a preventative measure to make sure their home doesn’t have any lurking issues that need to be dealt with immediately. Like its name suggests, this kind of inspection is part of the regular maintenance and upkeep of the home.
But regardless of the reason for the inspection, the process should look the same. In a home maintenance inspection, the only differences may be:
- The inspector may skip over your appliances. In a usual inspection, the inspector might run the dishwasher or test the washer and dryer if they’re included in the home purchase. But if the home isn’t changing hands, this type of testing usually isn’t necessary, since you’re already familiar with the appliances and know whether they work.
- The inspector may get a little more invasive. If the inspector spots something suspicious that can only be checked thoroughly by getting behind a wall, they’ll usually note the finding and suggest that the client hire a specialist to do further digging. But with a home maintenance inspection, the homeowner is right there and can give the go-ahead for a more invasive look.
Why should I get a home maintenance inspection?
A home maintenance inspection is to a house as a medical exam is to the body. You’re checking in on the systems and components of your house to make sure everything is as it should be.
Like a checkup for your health, you could avoid it and just wait until something goes wrong—but often, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Let’s take a look at a few benefits to including a regular home maintenance inspection in your home’s schedule below.
1. An inspector is a neutral third-party
If you think something in your home is in need of repair, it’s a good idea to schedule a home inspection first. Since in most states, the inspector isn’t legally allowed to conduct repairs on a property where they’ve recently conducted an inspection, the inspector will give you an unbiased list of items that need to be repaired or replaced.
If the inspector finds an issue (or agrees with your assessment that an item needs to be repaired), they’ll supply a recommended course of action.
2. A maintenance inspection can catch problems early
Often, you don’t realize something is about to go disastrously wrong until it’s too late. Your roof leaks, your outdated pipes burst, or an unchecked termite infestation leads to expensive structural damage.
A regular home maintenance inspection can help you nip many home problems in the bud, which might save you a lot of money down the line.
And even before you face major repair costs, a home inspection can save you more money than you think. If your electrical wiring is outdated or you have a leaky faucet, for instance, you could be losing hundreds in utility costs every year. A regular inspection helps you catch inefficiencies in your home’s systems that can easily add up.
3. You’ll be more prepared to sell
You may not be planning to sell your home anytime soon, but it’s still a good idea to know the general condition of your home so that you can keep your house in prime condition for whatever possibility comes your way.
It’s a fact of life that homes deteriorate over time, especially if left to their own devices. A home maintenance inspection is a crucial part of making sure your home stays in tip-top shape; otherwise, you may find that, when it comes time to sell, the home has fallen into an expensive state of disrepair.
If your home has gone many years without a maintenance inspection and related upkeep, it may even cause you to feel trapped there. If you know your home is in a worse condition than when you bought it, you may not feel like you can move—since you’re likely to lose money on its sale.
A regular maintenance inspection can help you stay on top of your property’s needs, keeping you proud of your home and confident that you have options.
4. Safety and peace of mind
Aside from the resale considerations, there are potential dangers to leaving your home’s condition unchecked for years. Your furnace, for instance, may develop a clogged vent and begin a dangerous backflow of carbon monoxide into your home.
Making a habit of scheduling regular maintenance inspections can help ensure that your property is being kept in good shape and a safe condition for yourself and your family.
How often should you get a home maintenance inspection?
All homeowners would do well to get a home inspection regularly.
According to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI), homeowners should have their homes inspected annually. And if that seems a little too often for you, try to at least order a maintenance inspection every 3-5 years.
Especially if your home is older, you’ll want to stay on top of the aging systems and structural components to make sure you know when it’s time to do maintenance or replace anything that’s broken.
How do you get a home maintenance inspection?
You can order a home maintenance inspection by following the same process as any other type of inspection. Any experienced home inspector in your area should be able to conduct a home maintenance inspection for you.
Use HomeGauge’s Find a Home Inspector tool to find high-quality home inspectors in your area.
Once you’ve narrowed it down to a few options, don’t forget to check their Google reviews or Better Business Bureau information to see if you can find any relevant information about their past experience.
Then, call the inspectors to get a quote for their services. For reference, many home inspectors’ prices will range from $300-$600, depending on the age and size of the home and its location. Their prices may fluctuate based on the additional services they offer, such as radon testing, drone inspections, or thermal imaging.
When you’re setting up the appointment, let the inspector know that you’re a homeowner who needs a maintenance inspection—and be sure to notify them of any concerns you have about the home.
Finally, prepare for your home inspection by clearing clutter away from walls and access points, labeling your fuse box, and making plans to be present during the appointment.
Maintenance inspections are an important part of homeownership
Your home is probably the most valuable asset you will ever own, so it makes sense that you’d want to keep it in the best condition possible.
A home inspector will be able to give you unbiased advice on what needs to be tuned up, repaired, or replaced. And by getting an inspection on your property every year or two, you’ll likely be able to catch any problems before they turn into a money pit—or worse, a potentially dangerous situation for your family.
Though you might picture it as something that only happens during the home-buying process, a home inspection is an essential part of ongoing homeownership. A maintenance inspection is a great way to make sure everything about your property is in tip-top shape, so that you can enjoy your home for years to come.