Six Questions Everyone Needs to Ask During a Home Inspection


Home inspections are often viewed as a formality: Just one of the many steps involved in buying or selling a property. But beyond that, it’s a valuable opportunity for buyers who want to learn more about their new home.

While you can learn a lot simply by attending your home inspection, you can learn even more by asking the right questions. But if this is your first time going through the process—or owning a home—it can be hard to know where to start. That’s why I asked Mike Powell, P.E., CPI, a seasoned home inspector at Red Flag Home Inspection in Tampa, Florida, for some of his favorite questions to get from buyers during an inspection, and why they’re especially useful.

When to ask questions during a home inspection

Before getting into the questions, let’s talk about when to ask them. For instance, should you ask questions about the home’s HVAC system while you’re standing in front of the furnace—and run the risk of interrupting the inspector’s process—or wait until the end? Ultimately, this comes down to your inspector’s preference. Powell, for example, sticks to a specific routine during inspections—systematically covering all aspects of the property—and prefers getting questions during breaks, or post-inspection discussions.

“Waiting for appropriate moments ensures that I can maintain my focus and attention to detail,” he says. “It’s about striking the right balance between being informative and respecting the professionalism involved in the inspection process.”

Before the inspection officially begins, ask the inspector whether you should ask questions as they come up during the process, or hold them until a break or the end. Either way, it may be helpful to make a list of questions as you think of them during the inspection, either on your phone, or pen and paper, so you don’t forget to ask them when the appropriate time comes.

Questions to ask during your home inspection

It can be hard to think of questions on the spot—especially if you’re not familiar with the process, and are unsure what to ask. Powell says that his favorite questions to answer are those that demonstrate the buyer’s genuine interest in understanding the home’s condition, including these:

  1. Can you explain more about this issue you found?
    The information in inspection reports is limited, so it can be helpful to ask the inspector to share additional details about any issues they discovered, including what, exactly, is wrong, and the options for addressing them.

  2. How severe is this problem, and what are the potential consequences if not addressed?
    In addition to finding out about the issues that need to be addressed, ask the inspector which are most urgent. This will help you prioritize the necessary repairs—including when negotiating the terms of the sale.

  3. Are there any routine maintenance tasks I should be aware of for this property?
    Sometimes, a home’s age or location may mean it has additional maintenance needs. Ask the inspector about the current maintenance tasks, as well as any they anticipate coming up in the future.

  4. Can you show me how to operate [specific system or component]?
    Not quite sure how the home’s HVAC system works? Now’s your chance to ask and get a demonstration.

  5. What is the expected lifespan of [a major component, e.g., roof or HVAC system]?
    Having a general idea of how long various appliances, systems, and parts of your home are likely to last will give you the chance to budget for their eventual replacements.

  6. Are there any signs of potential issues in the near future?
    If the inspector has experience with other homes in the neighborhood—especially those built around the same time as yours—they may have insights into potential problems you could face in the future. That’s not to say you should base your purchasing decision on a hypothetical future problem, but knowing what to keep an eye on moving forward could allow you to catch a small issue before it turns into a big one.

The bottom line, Powell says, is to keep in mind that that you hire a home inspector to be your advocate, and asking questions helps them fill that role more effectively.

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