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Inspecting homes in Northern Virginia, Montgomery County MD, and Washington DC

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Inspection FAQs

What is a home inspection?

A home inspection is a visual examination and technical analysis of the major systems of a house performed for existing homeowners, prospective purchasers, or third party agencies. The systems inspected include the Roofing, Exterior, Structure, Electrical, Heating, Cooling, Insulation, Plumbing, and the Interior.  The inspection should substantially conform to the Standards of Practice established by the professional associations as well as State and Local jurisdictions.

Does PepperWood Home Inspections belong to these professional associations?

Yes and these associations play an important role in establishing standards of practice, ethics guidelines, and continuing education for inspectors.  I was trained by and am a member of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) . In addition, I am a member of the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists- National Radon Proficiency Program (AARST-NRRP), and the Virginia Association of Real Estate Inspectors (VAREI).

ASHI Standards of Practice and Ethics     


How long does a home inspection take?

A typical inspection should take 2 to 4 hours on site.  This can vary, given the current condition and size of the home and the accessibility of mechanical systems, for example. The report usually requires additional time offsite to prepare and sometimes requires research to identify equipment or analyze observations.  The report will be delivered within 24 hours of the on-site inspection.

What do you look at?

We visually inspect the major systems of the house. These include the Roofing, Exterior, Structure, Electrical, Heating, Cooling, Insulation and Ventilation, Plumbing, and the Interior.  For more information about the process, see Your Home Inspection and Standards of Practice on this site.

How much does an inspection cost?

Our typical inspection fee for an average size house in this area is $475 - $850. Condos fees are generally lower.  However, a number of factors will affect the fee, including the size and age of the home, special conditions or requirements and additional services.  Radon tests usually cost $135 - $150.  

Can I follow along and ask questions during the inspection?

Definitely. We encourage you to attend and ask questions as we go. The inspection is a valuable learning experience for most homebuyers and homeowners.  And feel free to call afterwards with any questions about the report and your home.

What should I wear during the inspection?

You should dress comfortably and be prepared to spend several hours walking through the home, observing the inspection and asking questions.  Please understand that safety considerations will prevent you from getting too close or touching certain equipment or systems, climbing ladders or entering attics, crawlspaces or confined spaces. 

Can I bring my family?

We recommend that you bring only members of your family that will have an interest in the operation of the house and responsibility for maintaining it. Safety is our primary concern.  This is a technical evaluation and is not an appropriate time for the distractions of children, pets, and others not actively observing the inspection process.  

Do I get a written report? When?

Of course! We will provide a written report, which includes a summary of the deficiencies and conditions of the home and details on all the major systems of the home, and includes many photographs. It is delivered within 24 hours after the inspection, often the evening of the inspection.

If this is a prepurchase inspection and the house has many problems, will you tell us not to buy the house?

No. Our goal is to report on the condition of the house, indicating potential safety issues, needed repairs and major defects, along with recommendations for additional assessments as required.  Ultimately, it is your decision as to whether or not you buy the house. The home inspection is very important but it is only one piece of the puzzle. Only you know all of the factors at play for you.

Will you do repairs during or after the inspection?

No.  The codes of ethics of our professional associations prohibit members from doing repair work on the properties we inspect.  This ensures that our inspectors have no conflict of interest in identifying deficiencies and conditions at the houses we inspect.  

I'm buying a new home.  Do I need an inspection?

Yes, and it is very important.  We may be able to identify deficiencies while there is still time to fix them before construction is complete and before your settle.  You may want to consider having us inspect the home at several stages during construction, particularly before the drywall is installed and interior surfaces are finished. While your builder may have a great reputation, it is not uncommon to find problems that they have missed or shortcuts taken by subcontractors.

Do you offer home warranties?

We do not offer a warranty on the houses we inspect.  Home warranty programs are available from others and your real estate agent may have some suggestions.  Keep in mind that a home inspection is a professional opinion based on less-than-complete information. It's a little like getting a check-up from your family doctor: It improves your odds of good health but there is no guarantee or warranty. Some of the issues identified during the inspection may require a licensed specialist to analyze further and/or address.  Some problems can only be discovered by living in a house, and cannot be discovered during a home inspection. For example, some shower stalls leak when people use the shower but don't leak when you simply turn on the shower. Some roofs and basements only leak when specific weather conditions exist, and there is no visual evidence of prior leaks. Some problems will only be discovered when carpets are lifted, furniture is moved or finishes are removed. Therefore, we perform a thorough inspection which follows the professional standards of practice and provide you with useful information on which you can base your decisions about transactions, maintenance and followup with appropriate licensed contractors, engineers and tradespersons.