What Is a Home Maintenance Inspection? A Health Checkup for Your House
By Audrey Ference | May 8, 2018
A home maintenance inspection will clear up any concerns you have about the health of your house. Worried your roof has been compromised, or your foundation is a little worse for wear? A home maintenance inspection gives you a full picture of any below-the-radar repairs that need to be completed before you put your home up for sale.
So whether you're contemplating moving or simply want to know if the systems in your home are working properly, an inspection can be a huge benefit. To learn the ins and outs of a home maintenance inspection, continue to our overview below.
What is a home maintenance inspection?
A home maintenance inspection is just like the inspection you get before you buy a home, except that you do it with no intention of selling the place, explains Frank Lesh, president of the American Society of Home Inspectors.
A licensed inspector checks out all the main systems of your home—roof, walls, foundation, HVAC, electrical, plumbing—and flags anything that might be starting to malfunction.
"You might not even notice a problem," says Lesh. But sometimes, a good inspector can see the little signs that something is starting to go: small cracks, uneven wearing, or even just appliances such as water heaters and boilers reaching the eventual end of their lives. They can also remind you of the regular maintenance you should be doing on your house.
Like an annual physical, a maintenance inspection can catch issues early and give you the peace of mind of a clean bill of health.
"It's a way to keep little problems from turning into big problems," says Lesh.
What happens during a home maintenance inspection?
Just like at a pre-purchase inspection, your inspector will walk you through the home, showing you what was found and explaining what it means. You should have a chance to ask questions or get clarifications, and usually the inspector will point out things you should be doing regularly to keep all of your home's systems functioning in tiptop shape.
Then, in a few days, you'll get a written report detailing everything the inspector found. Only in this case, instead of asking the seller to fix or pay for the things on your list, you're the one in charge of tackling the to-do list. Think of it as an itemized punch list to address whenever you choose.
Do you need a home maintenance inspection?
"Every three to five years, you should have a home inspector come out and do a maintenance inspection," says Lesh. "Like changing your furnace filter, you should do it before it gets so bad [that it becomes] a problem."
Another advantage of a home maintenance inspection is that the inspector provides an unbiased opinion. You'll want the person inspecting your home to not have any skin in the game, especially if the pro is evaluating things that are expensive to repair (e.g., your roof or foundation).
If you do suspect something is in disrepair, it's wise to call in a home maintenance inspector before a repair company. "I'm not saying repair people are dishonest, but they have a vested interest in getting work, so you have to take what they say with a grain of salt," says Lesh.
"A home inspector isn't trying to sell you anything ... and isn't going to make any money off doing the repairs," says Lesh. "All we have to sell is the truth."
Who conducts the inspection and how much does it cost?
Any inspector who does pre-purchase inspections will be qualified to do a maintenance inspection. It's exactly the same process as before a sale, only with a slightly different purpose, so the cost will also be the same.
Prices vary depending on the area and size of the home, but the average range is $200–$400. Considering the fee for electrical, foundation, or roof repairs can be three to four times higher, that's a pretty great deal. When it comes down to it, a home maintenance inspection is a cost-effective way to keep your home in tiptop shape.