It is easy to get caught up in the purchase of a new home. It is important to protect your potential investment by making sure that you obtain a home inspection before you decide to commit to the purchase. A home inspection is a general inspection of a property performed by a professional home inspector. Although the inspection is general in nature, the professional needs to have solid expert knowledge of all of the aspects of the home. A home inspector is generally required to identify what systems and materials are on or in the home and report any improper installation or failure, which prevents proper use or operation. There are several general areas that you should expect to be included in your home inspection.
You can expect that the professional home inspector will look at the grade of the property, any drainage issues that might be there and any sloping adjacent to the foundation of the house. The professional will look for any vegetation and trees that might be adversely affecting the building or might pose a threat to the property in the future. They will look at the condition of all walkways, driveways, patios, steps and retaining walls that could have an adverse effect on the structure or the safety of the occupants.
Foundation Structural Inspection
The professional home inspector will want to carefully assess the condition of the structure foundation. This will include inspecting walls, sub-structure components, stairs and floor and wall systems for cracks or uneven structure. In some cases the inspector will look over the ventilation system if it runs through the foundation and they will check over the slab grade to be sure that there is no sloping or cracking.
Exterior Structural Inspection
During the inspection of the home’s exterior the professional will look over the condition of all of the wall covering, trim and the protective coating on the building. They will check out any components that are on the outside of the building such as vents, windows and doors, porches, decks, steps, handrails and carports. The inspector will also carefully inspect any chimney that might be attached to the exterior of the home looking for safety and stability of the structure. If there are any other unusual exterior fixtures attached such as shutters or plant hangers, the professional will assess them for soundness as well.
A good home inspector will take special note of the roofing on the structure. He or she will look over the roof to be sure that the covering is in good shape, that the rain gutter and downspout system is working properly and is in good condition with the visible portions of any roof flashing correctly attached. They will look for any loose tiles and will assess the general wear of the roof. All roof ventilation, soffits and fascias will be inspected for condition and any roof skylights and accessories on the roof will be inspected for leaks and soundness. Home inspectors will walk some roofs, but generally can not walk steep, clay tile, concrete or metal roofs.
Interior Roof and Attic
The home inspector will get into the attic area or crawl spaces above the structure and inspect for proper insulation, solid roof framing, sheathing, decking and general condition of the interior of the roof. They will look for soundness of the flooring in the space as well. If there are any openings to and from the area, the professional will look them over for safety. The professional home inspector will also access insulation installed in the attic space.
Carports and Garages Attached
If there is a carport or a garage attached to the structure the inspector will want to look over the interior and exterior of the building. They will check on the electrical system and all components of the electrical system as well as the plumbing system and heating system. The professional inspector will check the garage doors for functionality and safety. They will look at any slab that the garage is on and review the structure’s foundation for stability. In some cases there is plumbing in exterior buildings and the professional will look at the plumbing as well.
Any certified or licensed inspectors will inspect the primary service entrance to the structure as well as the main panel. They will want to inspect the main and sub-panels as well as all feeders. The inspection will include all attached lighting fixtures, outlets, branch circuits and connected fixtures or devices. The inspector will be looking for any problems with the power and they will also be looking for any safety issues that might exist. The power will need to be on to the building in order for this inspection to be completed properly.
A home inspector will look at the water supply lines that are visible in the home, any waste or soil lines as well as vent lines for same. They will inspect all plumbing fixtures such as the toilets, faucets, dishwashers, garbage disposals, hot water heaters and the lines to the fuel sources to heat the home, if applicable. They will flush the toilets and run the sinks during the visit, making it vital that the water is on and working in the structure at the time of inspection. The professional will also look for leaks throughout the building.
If the structure has a heating and cooling system, the professional will do an inspection of the unit, the vents and the thermostats for condition and safety. This will include all of the visible pipes, chimneys and fuel tanks, if applicable. A home inspector CAN NOT look at the interior of the heating and the cooling units to judge overall condition as this is the purview of a licensed HVAC technician. A home inspector will turn the unit on to be sure it is working properly. They will also look at the air filters, intake and the outgoing vents. It is important to note that the home inspector can not check the non-visible interior of the ducts for blockages.
A home inspector will run any fixed appliance that is staying with the home. This tends to include the dishwasher, microwave, garbage disposal, oven, cook top or range. More rare appliances such as trash compactors, central vacuums and water softeners may be inspected, however, many inspectors do not because of their high failure rate. If one of these rare appliances conveys with the home, it is consiered a gift and is not warranted or inspected. Portable appliances that frequently move on with the seller, such as the refrigerator, cloths washer and dryer are not part of the inspection. In the end, a home inspector will run any appliance that he knows is staying wit the home and report issues or failures.
Interior Structural Inspection
During the home inspection the professional will want to look over some of the basics of the home such as structures of the walls, ceilings, floors, doors and window. They want to be sure that they are reporting the functionality of each and looking for any areas that show signs of structural movement or leaking. All fireplaces will be inspected for condition and functionality. The inspector will also want to provide an opinion with regard to the structural safety of any indoor stairways and stair rails during the inspection.
Hiring a home inspector is one of the best ways to gain confidence in your purchase. Remember that the inspector’s job is to give you a report of the overall visual condition of the home and let you know about things that might need to be fixed. While it should be thorough, it cannot be perfect. Because most homes continue to be occupied, issues will crop up after the inspection and before your move in. If the inspector finds issues you do not need to halt your home purchase process. It only means that you will go in knowing and be able to address the issues with your seller or be ready to manage them. The inspection is for your information and will provide you with the confidence to make the purchase knowing what you are getting for your money or to decide whether the purchase is right for you. Take the time to hire someone that has a solid reputation and that will give you the facts.