Home Inspection Checklist: What to Look for in a Home Inspection Company

Are you buying a home? Buying a home is probably the most complicated (and important) purchase most of us will make in our lifetime. Like any major purchase there are features and specifications for all homes. On paper it may be the features that sell the home but if any of those features are in disrepair, you might be signing up for more than you bargained for and getting less than you paid for.

When you’re purchasing a home, you need to know what you’re getting. There are a few ways you can help protect yourself — one of them is with a thorough home inspection. Hiring a qualified home inspection company to take a look at the home you’re interested in buying is very important. At the same time, you need to understand what’s involved with a home inspection so years after your purchase, you can keep up with the maintenance of your home. Here’s why…

When you are buying a home it is important that you understanding what’s involved with a home inspection. It can pay dividends for the rest of the time you own your house.

First, it’s important to note that some things are not covered in a standard home inspection:

Pests – Pest inspections require a licensed pest control specialist to perform inspections of building structures to determine damage or possibility of damage from pests.

Radon — Radon gas is an invisible, odorless gas produced by the normal breakdown of uranium in the soil.

Lead paint – Inspecting a home for lead-based paint is not typically included in a home inspection because it takes place over several days and requires special equipment.

Mold – Mold inspection is a separate inspection because it requires three separate air samples and surface sample analysis. Since mold inspection is beyond the scope of a traditional home inspection, be sure to specifically ask your home inspector if he or she would recommend a mold inspection.

Asbestos – Asbestos is generally outside the scope of a home inspection because asbestos requires its own thorough review. Like with mold inspections, be sure to specifically ask your home inspector if he or she would recommend a separate asbestos inspection.

Orangeberg Sewer Pipe — Also known as “fiber conduit”, Orangeberg Sewer Pipe is bitumenized fiber pipe made from layers of wood pulp and pitch pressed together. It was used from the 1860s through the 1970s, when it was replaced by PVC pipe for water delivery and ABS pipe for drain-waste-vent (DWV) applications.
The first thing to point out is that every home and home buyer are different which means that every home inspection is different and the importance of home inspection items are different. Below are some common things that are inspected during a home inspection. Keep in mind that some items in this checklist may not be necessary for your particular home – and that this list does not include all the item inspected by a professional home inspection service.

General Home Inspection Checklist

Lot and Neighborhood

Lot Area

Does the grade slope away from the home or towards the home
Are there any areas where the soil has settled near the foundation or driveway?
What is the elevation of the home in relation to the street and neighbors?
Exterior

Roofing

Is the peak of the roof straight and level? Or is there sagging?
What is the condition of the roof vents? Are they visible?
Are there gaps between flashing and chimneys, walls or other parts of the roof?
Is there sagging anywhere else on the roof such as between the rafters or trusses?
What kind of shingles are used? How much deterioration has set in such as curling, warping, broken shingles or wider gaps between shingles in the roof?
Chimney

Is the chimney square to the home and level? Or is it leaning?
What is the condition of the bricks? Are any bricks flaking or missing?
What is the condition of the mortar? Is it cracked, broken or missing entirely?
Siding

Is the siding original to the house? If not, how old is the siding and how is it holding up?
Are the walls square and level or bowed, bulged or leaning
What material is the siding? Brick, wood or plastic?
What condition is the siding in?
Is there loose, missing, rotten or deteriorated siding or paint?
How does the siding fit connect to the foundation?
Soffits and Fascia

What are the soffits and fascia made of? Common materials include wood, aluminum or plastic?
Are there any problems such as rotting or broken pieces?
Are there any missing pieces of soffit or fascia?
Gutters and Downspouts

Are there any leaks or gaps in gutters or downspouts?
Does the gutter slope toward downspouts?
Is there any rust or peeling paint?
Are all gutters and downspouts securely fastened?
Is there a sufficient separation of the downspouts from the foundation?
Doors and Windows

Are there any problems with paint, caulking or rotten wood?
Are the windows original to the home? If not, how old are they?
Decks or Porches

What is the porch or deck made of? Check for paint problems, rotted wood and wood-earth contact.
Is there any settlement or separation from the house?
If possible, inspect the underside of the porch or deck.
Foundation

Are there any cracks, flaking or damaged masonry?
Are there any water markings and powdery substances on the foundation? If so where are they located?
Are the walls square vertically and horizontally? Or bowed, bulged or leaning?
Basement

Is there any evidence of water penetration (stains, mildew/odors, powdery substances, loose tiles, etc.)
Flooring

Is there any deterioration of flooring or carpet?
Are there any cracks in the tiles or mortar?
Do you notice any water damage or stains from previous water damage?
Is there any sagging or sloped flooring?
Interior Walls

Check that the majority of windows and doors work.
Are the walls square and vertically and horizontally straight?
Is there any cracked or loose plaster?
Look for stains, physical damage or evidence of previous repair.
Are there any drywall seams or nails showing?
Ceilings

Review all plaster for cracks or loose or sagging areas.
Are there any stains from water or mechanical damage or evidence of previous repair?
Are there any seams or nails showing?
Kitchens and Bathrooms

Check that all fixtures are secure including sinks, faucets, toilets and cabinetry
Are there any cracks in the fixtures?
What is the condition of the tiles and caulking surrounding sinks and tub and shower areas?
What is the condition of the faucets? Do they work? Is there sufficient water pressure?
Check under countertops for any water stains or rotting materials.
Check that the majority of the cabinet doors and drawers are in working order.
Electrical and Mechanical

Type, style and age of heating and cooling systems with service history.
Type, age and condition of water supply piping and drains.
Size and age of electrical service — Are the outlets grounded? Visible wiring in good condition?
The Importance of a Home Inspection Professional

As you can see, the home inspection checklist is exhaustive (and this list doesn’t even cover it all!) So if you’re in the market for a new house or are in the process of purchasing a new home, make sure you have a home inspection done by a reliable home inspection company – so you can protect yourself from the unforeseen. Also periodically review the items on this home inspection checklist so you can ensure the working order of your home for years to come.

Derek Wetlaufer is the President of Springer Profession

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So What Is A Home Inspection Exactly?

Sometimes, as a professional Home Inspector, I get asked “Exactly what is a Home Inspection?”. And for someone who hasn’t ever been directly exposed to a residential real estate transaction, and perhaps for some that have, it is an excellent question.

In large part, any definition to be applied to the phrase Home Inspection is dependent on where the Home Inspection is being conducted (in what State or municipality) and on what organization, if any, the Home Inspector might have an affiliation. Many states have adopted licensing requirements; some have not. It is worthy of note that an inspection of a home (note that I did not refer to it as a Home Inspection…) conducted in a State with no licensing requirements, by an individual with no or minimal experience and no professional association affiliation, may just be whatever he or she decides it will be at any given time…very, very scary indeed! And, If things are as they should be, we ought to be able to answer the subject question without having to determine what the definition of “Is” is.

According to the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), one of the oldest and most generally respected Home inspector associations, a Home Inspection is a conducted in accordance with the ASHI Standards of Practice is an inspection of the readily accessible, visually observable installed systems and components of a home. ASHI Standards of Practice also state that an inspection performed to their Standards of Practice are intended to provide the client with objective information regarding the condition of the systems and components of the home as inspected at the time of the Home Inspection. The inspector is required to provide a written report that identifies any systems or components inspected that, in the professional judgment of the inspector, are not functioning properly, are significantly deficient, are unsafe, or are at the end of their useful life. Further, reasoning or explanation as to the nature of the deficiencies reported must be provided if they are not self-evident.

In a state such as North Carolina, the state with which the author has the most familiarity and where licensing laws have been in effect since October of 1996, inspection reports must comply with the state requirements…period. Compliance isn’t voluntary…it’s the Law! According to the North Carolina Home Inspector Licensure Board (NCHILB), a home inspection is intended to provide the client with a better understanding of the property conditions, as inspected at the time of the inspection. The NCHILB Standards of Practice further require (among a myriad of other specific requirements), that a Home Inspector must:

Provide a written contract, signed by the client before the Home Inspection is performed, that states that the inspection is conducted in accordance with the Standards, that states what services are to be provided and the cost of those services, and that stated when an inspection is for only one or a limited number of systems or components and exactly which systems or components those might be;
Inspect readily visible and readily accessible systems and components that are listed in the Standards as being required to be inspected;
State which systems or components that are required to be inspected, but that were not inspected, and the reason that they were not inspected;
State any systems or components that were inspected that do not Function As Intended, allowing for normal wear and tear, or that adversely affect the habitability of the building;
State whether any reported condition requires repair or subsequent observation, or warrants further investigation by a specialist; the statements shall describe the component or system and how the condition is defective, explain the consequences of the condition, and provide direction as to a course of action with regard to the condition or refer the recipient to a specialist:
State or provide the name, license number, and signature of the person(s) conducting the inspection.
The ASHI Standards of Practice (SOP) can be viewed HERE. Additionally, ASHI prescribes a Client Bill of Rights and as Professional Home Inspectors, our Raleigh Home Inspection firm subscribes to those key principles that serve to protect clients/customers.

The preceding has been a short and partial commentary regarding what a Home Inspection is…by definition. But much can be added to arrive at an answer to the initial question…”What Is A Home Inspection…Exactly?”.

A client typically uses the contents of a Home Inspection report as an assessment of the general condition of the property so that they can make a more informed and intelligent purchasing decision related to their real estate transaction.

A Home Inspection report should generally address the following systems and/or components (note that this may not be a complete list):Structural Components – Foundation, floors, walls, ceilings, etc.
Exterior Components – Wall cladding, Door and Windows, Decks, flashing, eaves, fascia, driveways, walkways, steps, grading, drainage, any evidence of water penetration into the building envelope or etc.
Roofing – Roof covering, flashing, gutter systems, skylights, chimneys, roof penetrations, evidence of leakage or abnormal condensation, etc.;
Plumbing – Water distribution systems, drain/waste/vent piping systems, fixtures and faucets, functional flow and functional drainage, water heaters, safety controls, normal operating controls, fuel storage equipment, leakage, etc.;
Electrical – Service entrance conductors and equipment, main and distribution sub-panels, over-current devices, grounding equipment, fixtures, switches, receptacles, smoke detectors, Ground Fault protective devices, Arc Fault protective devices, etc.;
Heating – Furnaces and heat pumps, safety controls, operating controls, flues and vents, heat distribution systems, energy sources, etc,;
Air Conditioning – Cooling and air handling equipment, operator controls, distribution systems, energy sources, etc.;
Interior – Walls, floors, ceilings, stairs, railings, balconies, counter-tops, cabinets, door, windows, any evidence of water penetration or abnormal condensation, etc.;
Insulation and Ventilation – Insulation, vapor retarders, the absence of any required insulation, ventilation systems in kitchens/bathrooms/laundry rooms, attic ventilation systems/fans, etc;
Built-in kitchen appliances – Dishwashers, ranges, cook-tops, microwave ovens, trash compactors, garbage disposals, range hoods, etc.
So, what are some other “factoids” that might help us understand What a Home Inspection is…Exactly.

Home Inspections, by most all accepted definitions, are general and visual in nature and are not technically exhaustive.

A Home Inspection is a fee-paid service, prepared for a specific client (usually, but not always, a home buyer) that should give that client a good general assessment of the physical condition of the property to assist them is making a more sound purchasing decision.

A Home Inspection typically costs between $300.00 and $600.00, depending on the size and age of the home. Other ancillary services are often chosen by a home-buyer e.g. Radon Testing, Water Testing, etc.; but those additional services are usually provided outside the scope of the Home Inspection

A Home Inspection will typically take between 2 and 5 hours to complete, with that time period also being dependent on the size and age of the home.

It is recommended that a client, who has contracted for a Home Inspection, be present during the duration of the inspection so that they can learn about, and observe “first hand”, any reportable issues. Further, the client should be made to feel completely at ease to ask any question at any time; there should be no “silly” questions during a Home Inspection.

The report generated by a Home Inspector should be clear, concise, and able to be readily understood without the use of jargon or “techno-speak”; in other words, the Home Inspector should be capable of communicating using complete sentences and plain, common language. The report should contain digital photos of any significant issues. The completed inspection report should be delivered in a timely manner because, during a real estate transaction, time is typically of the essence and the information should be made available with that in mind.

In summary, a Home Inspection is a well-defined procedure intended to provide a good, thorough representation of the physical condition of a property on the date of the inspection. A report resulting from a Home Inspection is typically used by a home-buyer to make a more well-informed and intelligent purchase decision.

So…what is a Home Inspection…exactly? It is many things and is comprised of many different facets, both technical and practical. But mostly it is a valuable professional service that is…invaluable…to a home-buyer. Choosing to purchase a home, without the benefit of a professional assessment of the property, may not be a wise decision because…If you don’t “Inspect It”…then you very well may end up owning a home that is very much different than what you…thought…that it was…that you bought!

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