Anatomy of a Home Inspection
inspectamerica.com


Mail article to a friend Back to Article List

You're Invited To A Home Inspection
One picture is worth a thousand words and, even though our written home inspection reports are very comprehensive, it is a good idea to attend the inspection of your home to obtain first hand information from the engineer who is assigned to your home inspection; a typical home inspection will take about two hours.

Home buyers are encouraged to ask questions, during the home inspection and, at the conclusion of the inspection. The home inspection also provides a unique opportunity for you to learn about the house and its systems.

Ask Questions
At the conclusion of the home inspection, the home buyer should know the condition of the home. If anything is wrong, the home buyer should know what needs to be done to correct the problems (or safety hazards), what repair alternatives are available, what priorities to assign to the problems to reduce repair costs, which repair costs are significant, which repair costs are minor, which costs are nonessential improvements, whether or not there are any risks of concealed damage, and whether further investigation is recommended. We will tell you everything you need to know including tips to maintain your home.

First we'll walk around the exterior of the home to get oriented. There's nothing more important than the structural integrity of the home and the home inspector should look for unusual structural distress or deflections in the exterior framing of the roof and exterior facades which could signal a serious problem. The structural integrity of the home is of primary importance and therefore all of our home inspections are conducted by Licensed Professional Engineers (look for Professional Engineer's P.E. seal on your home inspection report).

How Does The Roof Look?
Where feasible, the home inspector will walk upon the roof to get a close look at the roof surface, the roof flashings, chimney, skylights, etc. Walking upon the roof provides additional information about the structural integrity of the roof structure. When it is not feasible for the home inspector to walk upon the roof, a closer look on a ladder provides information; sometimes, the home inspector will use binoculars for a further examination. While inspecting the roof, the home inspector will look for areas that are susceptible to water intrusion and will be sure to check those areas carefully during the interior home inspection.

A closer inspection around the outside is next. The home inspector will examine the exterior facades, foundation walls, doors, windows, decks, patios, porches, driveways, sidewalks, and walkways; the home inspector will look for do it yourself decks, etc. that have deficiencies. Proper land grading around the house, and proper disposal of roof rain water is important to keep excess water away from the foundations.

It's Time To Go Inside The Home
On the inside of the home, the home inspector will start on the top floor and inspect the ceilings, walls, doors, and windows looking for quality and condition, and any unusual conditions that could be a tell tale sign of a structural defect, as well as signs of water intrusion.

The home inspector will inspect all areas of the attic that are readily accessible for evidence of structural defects, wood destroying insects, adequacy of insulation and ventilation, evidence of water intrusion, as well as any plumbing, electrical, heating, or air-conditioning problems. You would be surprised to find out what surprises may be found in the attic.

The home inspector will inspect all areas of the basement including the condition of the foundation walls, and framing as visible. The home inspector will look for defects in the structure caused by under design, improper alteration, wood destroying insects, and water. Although no foundation wall cracks are desirable, the licensed engineer can make a determination if the problem is a serious concern. The home inspector will look for evidence of water intrusion into the basement, as well as any remedial systems that have been installed to control water intrusion problems.

Location, location, location, you've heard that often enough when looking for a home. Once you find a home, the most important aspect of the home inspection is structural, structural, structural. That's why you need a Licensed Professional Engineer to assess the data collected during the physical home inspection; the P.E. will call upon all of the engineer's education, knowledge, and home inspection experience to make a judgment regarding the structural health of the home and whether any remedial repairs are required, and if so, what needs to be done to correct the problem. Only a Licensed Professional Engineer (P.E.) can design a repair for a structural defect, home buyers who do not retain the services of a P.E. to conduct their home inspection may pay a second fee to retain the services of a P.E. for Professional Engineering advice regarding structural defects.

The Electrical Inspection
The home inspector will test a representative number of electrical switches and outlets to be sure that there are no wiring defects; ground fault circuits will also be tested. The home inspector will remove the cover from the electrical service panel to determine the size and capacity of the electrical service, the type and condition of wiring, and determine if there are any wiring defects or hazards in the panel and whether there is any aluminum wiring in the house. The home inspection engineer will show you where the main electrical switch is located.
The Plumbing Inspection

The home inspection engineer will determine the type and condition of plumbing pipes in the house and whether there are any lead water supply pipes. The home inspector will determine if the water pressure and water flow rate are satisfactory and will determine the condition of the plumbing fixtures, faucets, and vanities. The home inspector will determine if the drainage, waste, and vent pipe system is proper. The home inspector will look for evidence of past sanitary waste backups. If there is gas service in the house, the gas supply pipes and connections will be tested for gas leaks. The home inspector will show you where the main water and gas valves are located. If the house is served via a private well, the home inspector will determine if the system is functioning properly. If the house is served via a private sanitary waste disposal system, the home inspector will conduct a functional flow test on the system to test the proper operation of the system.

The Kitchen And Laundry
The home inspector will evaluate the kitchen and laundry appliances as well as the kitchen and laundry cabinets. The home inspector will not determine if your clothes will launder whiter than white, but will test the machines for basic functions.
Heating System
The home inspector will determine the type and condition of the heating system, and will determine if heat is being distributed to all habitable areas of the home and whether there are any safety problems; the home inspector will show you how to turn off the heating system in an emergency. The home inspector will search for any pipe or duct insulation that may be an asbestos containing material. The home inspector will check for carbon monoxide emission, and will determine whether there are any opportunities for energy conservation.
Air-conditioning System
The home inspector will determine the type and condition of the air-conditioning system, and will determine if cool air is being distributed to all habitable areas of the home and whether there are any safety problems.
Termite Report
The inspector will check for evidence of wood destroying insect infestation such as termites, carpenter ants, powder post beetles, etc.
The Inspection Is Complete
When the inspection is complete, the home inspection engineer will provide a verbal report. The report can range from, the house is in such great condition that your biggest problem will be how to keep the house in great condition, to its a money pit. Listen carefully to the home inspection engineer's verbal report; when you receive the home inspection report read it carefully and write down any questions you may have.
The Engineer's Report
At the conclusion of the home inspection, the home buyer will be well informed and will know the condition of the home. If anything is wrong, the home buyer will know what needs to be done to correct the problems (or safety hazards), what repair alternatives are available, what priorities to assign to the problems to reduce repair costs, which repair costs are significant, which repair costs are minor, which costs are non-essential improvements, whether or not there are any risks of concealed damage, and whether further investigation is recommended.
Written Engineering Report Or Checklist
Although some home inspection companies will provide you with a pre-printed hand written checklist at the conclusion of the home inspection, these boiler plate formats often do not provide the level of detail and advice and that a formal detailed written home inspection report can provide. It is one thing for the home inspector to check off good, fair, poor, acceptable, or not acceptable, but it is another thing to describe what's wrong, why its wrong, and what needs to be done about it. Anybody can check off a form that indicates that a stairway is tilting, but a written home inspection report by a Licensed Professional Engineer can tell you why the stairway is tilting and what needs to be done about it. Remember, only a Professional Engineer is licensed to make professional engineering judgments and provide you with a professional engineer's design for remedial repair.
The Report And Your Cash Flow Analysis
Carefully read your home inspection engineering report and make a list of items that need correction; this will help you to determine your future expenditures for repairs and maintenance. Our engineering report contains useful information that serves as a reference for you in the future. A home can not fail an inspection, the home inspection report records the condition of the home, both positives and negatives.

If you have questions regarding your report, feel free to call the engineer who conducted your home inspection.

Now you're ready for the next steps...

If the home inspection went well, you're ready to sign your sales contract, obtain a mortgage, and make plans to pack and move into your new home.

If the home inspection did not go well, its time to look some more.


We would like to thank InspectAmerica Engineering, P.C. for the above information. Please visit their website at www.inspectamerica.com


Copyright © 1998 MicroAssist, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Site developed by MicroAssist. Please read the disclaimer before using this site.