Home Inspection Basics -- What We Inspect

By
Home Inspector with King of the House Home Inspection, Inc

 I am often surprised to find that buyers, and even their agents, do not know what to expect from a professional home inspection. Inevitably, there are things that they "think" we inspectors will be looking at when, in fact, that system or component is excluded -- burglar alarms, cable and telephone, yard irrigation systems. Then, on the opposite side of the spectrum, there are those things that we inspect in detail that end up surprising many people -- the fact that we remove the cover from the electric panel, remove the cover on the furnace.

Home inspections vary from state to state, and from association to association, depending on the applicable standards of practice. My description of the inspection process, provided below, is general in nature but it should be helpful for those who are unfamiliar with the field of home inspection. 

In most cases, the home inspector will report on the following:

Site and exterior, including siding, gutters, downspouts, decks, perimeter slope of concrete and soil, earth to wood contact

Roof covering, including verifying ventilation

Attic, including the structural components, insulation and ventilation

Electric system, including the service drop or lateral, inside the panel and checking for GFCI protected receptacles, while verifying the operation of  lights and receptacles

Water heater, including age, function and the overall installation with emphasis on water heater safety

Heat, including function of the systems, age and verifying that there is a heat source in every livable room

Interior, including doors and windows, plumbing fixtures, walls, ceilings, verifying the presence of smoke detectors

Substructure areas (crawl spaces or basements) including structural components, looking for rot and moisture, wood to soil contact, plumbing leaks, pest problems, verifying insulation

King of the house bellingham home inspections

A home inspection is a non-technically exhaustive, primarily visual, inspection of a home and it's systems and components. The order in which systems and components are inspected will vary from inspector to inspector. What is logical and works for one inspector might be awkward to another.

When the inspection is complete, the inspector should, in a reasonable time-frame, provide the client with a written report that describes the conditions that were found at the home at the time of the inspection. The report should include not only those items that were viewed and inspected but the client should, also, be able to tell, from looking at the report, which items were excluded and need to be inspected by a specialist -- wells, septic tanks, etc.

 

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  1. Christine Farkas 06/24/2011 07:58 PM
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Rainmaker
635,962
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

As one old time inspector said, inspecting to the standards is the worst inspection you can do and get away with.

I am like you surprised by what clients and even some agents are surprised we do and don't inspect.

Jun 22, 2011 10:14 AM #1
Rainmaker
1,182,084
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

James,

That is true, same thing with building a house to minimum codes. Worst you can LEGALLY do.

Jun 22, 2011 10:38 AM #2
Ambassador
839,256
Fred Griffin
Frederick Griffin, Licensed Real Estate Broker - Tallahassee, FL
Licensed Real Estate Broker

A very comprehensive list, Steven.  

    "Written report in a reasonable time-frame".    I know Inspectors who bring Laptops with portable printers to the Inpsection.  When the Inspection is concluded, they can print copies for the Agent(s) or Buyer that is present.  The Inspector can email the Report to whoever else is authorized to receive a copy.   This is a great service to the Buyer, Brokers and other parties.

Jun 22, 2011 11:00 AM #3
Rainer
239,935
Michele Miller ~ REALTOR®, LMC, HSE, CHS
Keller Williams Greater Worcester - Worcester, MA
"Your Full Service Professionals"

Steven,

Home inspectors are so valuable. I wish you were in my area!

Jun 22, 2011 11:20 AM #4
Rainmaker
1,245,379
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

I don't see anything in your list about lag and carriage bolts!  What gives!?

And what is a "reasonable time frame?"  A couple of months for most things is "reasonable..."

Jun 22, 2011 12:45 PM #5
Rainmaker
1,182,084
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

Jay,

Unlike you, I exclude carriages, wheel barrows and garden carts. I can tell by your photo that you probably do not.

Jun 22, 2011 03:51 PM #6
Rainmaker
1,245,379
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Then you are lagging behind the trend.  You really should bolt.

Jun 22, 2011 05:17 PM #7
Rainmaker
1,182,084
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

Jay,

I do not think I have seen bolts more than a couple times. Here, the lag screws is considered find, per IRC. That is considered to be A-OK.

Jun 22, 2011 05:41 PM #8
Rainmaker
1,245,379
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

In that comment I was using the word lag and bolt as verbs...

Jun 22, 2011 08:29 PM #9
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Rainmaker
1,182,084

Steven L. Smith

Bellingham WA Home Inspector
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