Home inspectors are like diagnosticians. If you’ve ever “accidentally” watched an episode of House or The Good Doctor, then you already what know what this means. If not, then you should 1.) watch these shows (for the sake of understanding this analogy, of course) and 2.) pay attention.
Diagnosticians tell you what’s wrong with you. They may fix the issue themselves or refer you to a specialist, but their main job is just to tell you what the problem is.
A home inspector does the exact same thing. While they won’t actually fix your house, they will examine its condition to give you an idea of what’s going on with it. Inspectors help you by letting you know if there are any existing problems with the house, or if there are any problems that may arise in the future. This protects you, the buyer, in case the seller is not “forthcoming” about any issues with the property. It also lets you know what repairs you will have to make in the future so that you can budget accordingly.
What does a home inspector look for?
There are thousands of things that home inspectors are supposed to look for. A typical home inspector checklist will include:
- Grounds: Home inspectors check for current and future water issues, such as faulty grading or downspouts. They inspect and evaluate pathways, retaining walls, sheds, and railings.
- Structure: Inspectors check to see if the house foundation is solid—appearing straight and with no significant cracks. Home inspectors also check for straight walls that aren’t bowed or sagging. Lastly, they make sure that the windows and door frames are square.
- Roof: Inspectors check for deteriorating shingles and roof coverings. They make sure that there aren’t any ceiling drips, loose gutters, or chimney defects. Then they ensure that the flashing around the base of the chimney is watertight, and that the mortar and bricks are in good condition. They will also check to see if there are any branches or bushes touching the house or hanging over the roof.
- Exterior: The home inspector will look for siding cracks, rot, or decay; cracking or flaking masonry; cracks in stucco; dents or bowing in vinyl; blistering or flaking paint; and adequate clearing between siding and earth (which should be at least six inches to avoid moisture damage).
- Windows, Doors, and Trim: The inspector will check that wood frames and trim pieces are secure (with no cracks, rot, or decay) and that frame joints are caulked.
- Interior Rooms: Inspectors are mostly concerned about leaning walls, stained ceilings, and insufficient insulation and heating vents that could make a room cold and drafty. They ensure that paint, wall coverings, and paneling are also all in good condition.
- Kitchen: Inspectors make sure that exhaust fans vent outside and that electrical outlets have ground fault circuit interrupter protection. They also check for leaks and make sure that cabinets are working properly.
- Bathrooms: Home inspectors want to see toilets flushing, drains draining, and tubs securely-fastened. They check for caulking conditions and any signs of leakage.
- Plumbing: Inspectors check pipes, drains, and water heaters for water pressure and temperature.
- Electrical: The home inspector will check that visible wiring and electrical panels are in good shape, that light switches work correctly, and that there are enough outlets in each room.
Like with any doctor’s appointment, it’s important to bring things to your inspector’s attention and to ask plenty of questions. After all, this appointment is to help YOU and unless you have a clear idea of what’s going on with the house, you won’t be able to make an informed decision. Therefore, make the most of your time with your home inspector and get to know your house inside and out.