Think of your home inspector as your personal detective, who uncovers potentially costly problems. Since you’re probably in love with your home at this point, you don’t want him uncovering significant flaws. Don’t panic. This home inspection checklist will keep you calm and help you understand how the process works.
Standards of Practice are designed to identify both the requirements of a home inspection and the limitations of an inspection. As a consumer, you should take the time to examine the Standards of Practice followed by your inspector. Do Not Hire an inspector who isn’t associated with a professional inspection organization! His reports follow no particular standards!
What is a home inspection report?
A home inspection report is a written document a home inspector delivers to you after the home inspection is completed. It should include:
Images of issues needing attention
Descriptions of the issues and the potential impact
A summary to highlight the most important issues
An HTML and/or PDF version
What does a home inspection report look like?
Many modern home inspectors will deliver you a report in a digital and PDF format, that is viewable on a mobile device. The home inspection report will be highly visual and easy to navigate with a table of contents and summary.
Major issues and concerns are easy to read and understand with pictures and descriptions...
Whether you’re selling your current home, or you’re shopping for a new house, chances are that you’ll need a home inspection at some point in the process. So, what can you expect and what’s included in a home inspection?
Understanding home inspections
Home inspectors are hired to perform a visual, detailed walk-through of the home that you’re looking to buy, and give a comprehensive review of the following sections of the home:
Roof – Some inspectors start with the roof, which includes the roof coverings (type and condition of shingles), gutters, downspouts, vents, flashings, skylights, chimney and other roof penetrations.
Exterior – One of the first things that an inspector does is inspect the exterior structure of the home, including the siding, eaves, soffits, fascia, windows, doors, trim, walkways, driveways, porches, decks, drainage and other basic structural elements of the house, to ensure that they are free of major issues.
Basement, Foundation, Crawlspace & Structure – An important part of the home inspection covers the foundation, basement and crawlspace. The important part here is differentiating major structural signs versus typical settling and hairline cracks.
Plumbing – Understanding the functionality and location of the main water and fuel shut-offs is very important. You’ll also learn about your water heater, operation of toilets, sinks, tubs, showers, drain, waste & vent systems, and sump pumps.
Electrical – Another critical area that includes service drops, conductors, mast, electrical meter and panels, grounding and bonding, testing a representative number of switches, lighting fixtures and receptacles (AFCI & GFCI), and the presence of smoke and carbon-monoxide detectors.
Electrical systems will be checked, too. Fuse boxes and circuit breakers are tested, as are light switches, power outlets, and other electrical systems.
Heating/Cooling Elements – The inspector will inspect the heating and cooling systems, using normal operating controls and describe the location of the thermostat, energy source and heating/cooling method.
Fireplace – If applicable, the inspector will check readily accessible portions of fireplaces & chimneys, lintels, damper doors, and clean out doors and frames.
Attic, Insulation & Ventilation – Making sure the home has sufficient insulation and ventilation can save problems down the road.
Doors, Windows & Interior – Checking a representative number of doors and windows, floors, walls and ceilings, stairways, railings, and the garage door and openers is all important since it’s the areas where you’ll spend the most time!
Throughout this process, the inspector will be taking notes, pictures, and other information about the home being examined.
What home inspectors don’t do
t’s a common misconception that home inspectors are expected to examine the home for issues like mold, pests, parasites, interior structural issues, asbestos, lead, and other potentially hidden issues. This is usually not the case. To use a medical analogy, think of a home inspection as a “general check-up” – not a comprehensive, x-ray exam. The home you’re buying or selling will be assessed thoroughly – but specialized issues like mold or termites will sometimes require specialist inspectors.
Note: Some inspectors will be licensed to do termite inspections, radon testing, mold testing and more. Inspectors also won’t necessarily be looking to see if a home complies with local building codes, and they won’t tell you things like whether or not you’re getting a good deal on your home, or give you an opinion on the value of a home.
What to expect from your inspection
The time it takes for an inspection varies based on how many square feet the home is, but the vast majority of inspections will take about 2-3 hours, due to the complexity of examining each element of the home. Tip: Home inspectors have hundreds of points to check in any given home.
The verbal summary and a written report
At the end of an inspection, the inspector will give you a general overview of their findings as a verbal summary or show you on their phone/tablet. They will outline any potential obvious issues, and discuss what you should do to solve them, or whether they should be a cause for concern.
After the verbal summary is made, a written home inspection report will be written by the inspector, and sent to you. This report will have a much more detailed outline about the state of the home, and is accompanied by high-quality photos, notes, and other general information about the home like styles and materials.
A home inspection is the first step towards understanding the condition of the home that you’re buying, or selling – and it is absolutely essential!