A home inspection is simply a visual assessment of the physical structure and major interior systems of a house. Since most have limited knowledge on the subject, therein lies the need to call in experts to help assess the home’s condition. Finding a good home inspector seems to be a daunting job.
But despite that, there is still no guarantee that the home inspector called in, will carry out their duties diligently and effectively. So, I put together the essential information you need to know about what exactly a home inspector should be doing.
A competent and typical home inspection usually involves assessing the most readily visible and accessible parts of the home. The inspector usually takes several hours to finish up a thorough and accurate assessment.
During that process, they should be taking pictures and real notes, and if you are tagging along, commenting on what they see. By making a clear assessment of the home’s primary structures, he or she should be checking:
Miscellaneous Appliances Inspection
While basements, roofs, plumbing, and wiring are the primary areas for concern, they are not the only areas that are worth attention. Competent home inspectors, would generally go further and assess the home’s heating and cooling systems, ensure that they work, and give accurate comments on their performance.
This includes testing out other appliances that come with the house, such as; smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, fire sprinklers, etc. which must always be in good working order.
Insect and Pest Inspection
Carpenter ants and termites are among the common wood-destroying insects that can severely damage a household. This is primarily evident in the flooring. The inspector should examine for soft spots where wood is weak, which could be a clear indication of wood rot.
Not to mention, the presence of rodents can be damaging to electrical wiring, for instance. In most cases, the inspector will assess the damage imposed. If they discover pests, they would recommend a pest control team to help sort out the issue.
Though you’ll need an individual pest inspection because home inspectors don’t cover all the aspects of insect and pest.
The inspector should also examine the home’s exterior doors, driveway, porch, windows, etc. As well as the interior of the house, from the floors, walls, framing, ceilings, stairs, railings, caulking, and tile-work, especially in the bathrooms. This also includes the conditions of fixtures, switches, outlets, and other essential integrations such as the HVAC system.
Ventilation and Insulation
The inspector should also be taking a look at the house’s exhaust systems in the bathroom, laundry, and kitchen areas. This also includes the attic’s ventilation and the other regions.
The house’s electrical panel and circuit breaker configuration should be optimum to the home’s needs. As such, they need to make sure that your electrical system is effectively grounded. This helps prevent overheating and fires.
If neglected, it can end up becoming an expensive problem down the road. They should also review your wiring, circuit breaker, and outlets to make sure they are safe. This includes even appliances (like your oven and dishwasher) to make sure that their connections won’t cause a fire hazard.
Some of the most common electrical issues that home inspectors find include: Exposed wiring, Double Tapping of circuit breakers, Improperly modified electrical panels, etc.
Plumbing issues are pretty common in most households but can end up causing massive damage making them essential to identify as soon as possible because they can lead to some serious water damage, which consequently reduces a home’s true value.
Some plumbing issues that can be difficult to see and can be expensive to fix include; galvanized pipes, broken or rusty Pipes, clogged sewer lines, sediment build-up, rust, etc.
They should be checking out the home’s water pressure by flushing toilets, turning on multiple faucets, and running any available dishwashers concurrently. They should also be looking for any prevailing leaks as well as examine your water heater.
This primarily involves checking the roof exterior and searching for damage. This includes checking for signs such as a sinking roof or even deteriorated shingles. They should also look at your gutters and rain guards to confirm that water effectively flows away.
The inspector should examine your attic to check for leaks or even insulation issues. They should also take a look at the furnace and fireplace damper to ensure it’s operating correctly.
Inspecting the Foundation
They should be looking for problems within the house’s basic structure. This involves examining and looking out for wall cracks or mildew stains and odors, which can signal that a basement is too moist.
This is extremely important as basements are especially vulnerable to dampness, quickly causing expensive structural damage. If anything looks concerning, the inspector may end up recommending a residential structural engineer to come and give a better assessment.
Home Inspection Report
Finally, they should provide a copy of the detailed report, which is extensive, contains checklists, summaries, photographs, and notes. It may also estimate the remaining shelf life of major systems and equipment. The critical information should also include recommended repairs and replacements if needed. This also consists of the estimates on how much it would cost to fix each problem. Don’t be shocked if you see a lot of issues being listed. Home inspections tend to be detailed, so the reports tend to come with several problems, most of which are relatively small.
It is your responsibility as a homeowner that everything is satisfactory in every respect. While it’s true that inspectors should have a keen eye for detail, they won’t always be in a position to see everything.
Home inspections aren’t still comprehensive, which means that radon testing or other potentially hazardous substances can go unseen. This also includes some areas which aren’t easily accessible, such as the septic system. These cases will typically require specialized and separate inspections.
I'm Mike of HomeColumns.com, a Home Inspection Professional from California. I work as an independent home inspector in Los Angeles. me and Sandra are running this site. I am using this site as my personal journal and resource for wannabe home inspectors. If you have any question related to becoming a home inspector, inspection tools or anything related to the trade feel free to contact with me using the contact page here. Learn more about Home Columns here.
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