Buyer Inspection #11:  “Meet-Contractors-to-Get-a-Head-Start-on-Remodeling” 

If you didn’t know how many different kinds of home inspections there were these days, here’s a good starting point: look at the pull-down menu on MLS (photo, above).

The tally?

No fewer than 10.

As formidable (scary?) as that list may appear, at least in my opinion, it omits three (at least) significant kinds of home inspections.

Meanwhile, MLS includes three other tests that I would consolidate, delete, or re-label.

Bottom line: MLS simultaneously manages to both under and over-count the number of inspection types.

Tweaks & Subtractions

For starters, I’d differentiate between the general inspection — what otherwise used to simply be known as the inspection — and specialty inspections.

The latter are frequently — but not always — done by a licensed contractor, who can also bid and do the work, and are performed once the general inspector flags a concern.


Next, note that MLS’ list double-counts radon (both “drop-off” and “pick-up” are listed; practically, most home inspectors combine the radon pickup with the main home inspection).

So, subtract one.

Meanwhile, I suspect “site measurements” is more accurately titled, “meet-contractors-to-get-a-head-start-on-remodeling.”

Of course, that doesn’t fit neatly on a pull-down menu — and, it’s not really an inspection, either.

So, subtract another from MLS’ list.

Moisture vs. Mold Testing

Finally, I would re-label “mold” as “moisture.”

Mold is a symptom; the underlying problem is always moisture — specifically, where there shouldn’t be any (vs. a shower stall).

So, when there’s elevated moisture in the home’s wall cavities — something that can happen when the vapor barrier is improperly installed in a late-vintage stucco home — it’s appropriate to bring in a licensed contractor to:  a) define the scope of the problem; then b) estimate the repair cost.

For affected Buyers who elect to skip such testing, here’s a thought:  even the most extensive moisture testing, for a large home, should cost less than $2,500.

Compare that with the cost to essentially re-build the house from the outside-in: $100k to +$400k — assuming the home can even be salvaged.

Can you say, “cost-benefit??”

MLS Omissions

Missing from MLS’ list?

These three “specialty” inspections:

One. An optical scope of the home’s main sewer connection, to check for any cracks between the home and street.

Why bother?

Because the test costs $150, and the problem — while relatively uncommon — can cost the (new?) homeowner $6k-$8k to fix, depending on how far away the home is from the municipal (sewer) grid, and how accessible (or not) the line connecting the house is.

Two. HVAC, to estimate the cost of a new furnace; remove an older, asbestos-wrapped furnace; install a new central a/c unit; upgrade an electric service panel, etc.

Pssst! (at least for home sellers):  consider paying $500 rather than 4-6x that, and consider including a home warranty with the sale.

Three. A swimming pool contractor (if applicable), to weigh in on the condition of the pool.

My revised tally:  10 – 2 + 3 = 11 different types of inspections.

Back to the Future

My prediction?

Give the long and increasingly unwieldy number of inspections, the list collapses — “Big Bang-like” — all the way back to exactly one type of inspection:  plain vanilla “Inspection.”

Below that, there’ll be a blank field for Buyers’ agents to fill in as they like.

See also, “Home Buyer’s Final Walk-Through Inspection“; and “Just One Home Inspection in Today’s Housing Market? Try 4 (or 8, or 9!!).”

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

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