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What’s A Home Inspection Like?

You’ve found your new home and Attorney Review has concluded.  Next comes the home inspections.  While you’re waiting for your scheduled inspection time, you begin to wonder about this.  What’s a home inspection like?  What really happens?  Let’s take a look now.

Begin Outside

You meet your home inspector at the house.  He introduces himself, explains how the inspection will be conducted and starts outside.

A home’s exterior is more than the siding, roof and chimney.  Because of all the damage it can create, you must keep water away from a house.  As a result, gutters, downspouts and rainwater runoff management are concerns.

Walking around the home’s perimeter and grounds, he notes how trees and shrubs impact the roof and structure, the integrity of fencing, signs of an abandoned oil tank and evidence of wood destroying insects or other pests.

Decks, patios, walks and driveway are other areas he’ll check out.  Pretty much everything you see on the outside will be examined.  He’ll also give you his estimate of how long the roof will last.

The Basement

Basements tell us how well maintained a home is by their condition and the quality of equipment. As a result, this is a very important area.

Unfinished basements allow a thorough inspection of the foundation, framing, floor and ceiling area for wiring, leaks, water penetration and wood destroying insect activity.  Because a finished basement has this covered up, inspectors do the best they can.

Electrical panel box covers are removed to look at the condition and wiring.  Hot water heaters and furnaces are inspected and dated.  You are told how to maintain your furnace and other tips.   Inspectors teach you about this and how to take care of the furnace.

Existing sump pumps are also inspected; you will be told to get a battery backup if it’s not there. When the house has air conditioning, equipment for this can exist in the basement as well as the attic.  This is checked out of course.

Because a gas fueled house might have had oil heat in the past, your inspector will look for signs of oil service in the basement too.

Living Areas

Bathrooms are thoroughly tested for leaks, water pressure, water temperature. mold/mildew and general condition.  While GFCI outlets should be in bathrooms, it is an unfortunate fact that this is not always code required.

Inspectors open and close all windows and doors.  They check floors for damage.  Outlets are tested to see if they work and for polarity.  They look to make sure heat works in all rooms. Central air is checked by measuring the temperature at every register.

Attic

Home inspectors go into every part of the attic.  They examine the roof’s substructure to make sure it’s doing it’s job.  Ventilation is essential.  As a result, your inspector examines this very carefully.  He determines if the existing insulation is enough and installed correctly.  Attics have central air handlers sometimes.  This is examined for condition and installation. Moisture issues are another big concern  They happen due to poor ventilation and insulation.

Main Floor

Is there a fireplace?  Your inspector looks at both the inside and mantel area.  He tells you, if necessary, to get a Level 2 fireplace inspection.  Doors,windows and wall outlets are checked as before.  Kitchens are important and he goes over every inch.

Dishwashers are turned on.  Hoses checked.  Sinks run water for a while to see if anything is leaking.  Ovens, ranges, broilers, microwaves and garbage disposals are turned on.  So is any exhaust hood.  How is this vented?

He looks at installations.  Particular concerns are the oven and dishwasher installations.  Is there a GFCI switch by the sink?  Kitchens require this unlike, in some cases, not bathrooms.

Garages

Detached garages have their exterior and roof checked just like the house.  Because they’re outside and wood framed, termites are a greater concern as is moisture damage.  I don’t understand why but many have junk piled behind or around them.  This is not good of course and your inspector will note this.  Inside is also completely checked out of course.

Attached garages are likewise checked.  Moisture issues are not the same since they’re part of the house.  Still everything is looked at.  Inspectors open and close garage doors.  While manual operation is often the case with a 1 car garage, you should not see this in a 2 car garage.  Electric doors must have safety operation.  If not, he’ll note this too.

Additional Inspections

I wrote above that your home inspector may advise you to do a Level 2 chimney inspection.  You may wish to do this anyway.  I believe you must also do a tank sweep inspection.  Because I feel so strongly about this, I won’t sell anyone a house who doesn’t do this.  Read my article on tank sweeps so you understand it fully.

Your Home Inspection Is Done

The last item is the radon test.  A test canister is placed in the basement, picked up a few days later and sent to a lab.  Results arrive in 2-3 days.  The home inspection report is emailed to you, your attorney and, if you wish, your agent in 24-48 hours.  Expect to spend 2.5 hours at your inspection for most homes.

Personal property is not part of your home inspection.  Refrigerators, washers, dryers and window air conditioners are all personal property.

What’s a home inspection like is a question I hope I’ve answered for you fully here.  If you have any further questions, just let me know. 

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