Most home buyers know that they need to get a home inspection before they purchase a home, but many buyers know very little about the actual home inspection process. Home inspections are usually required by the mortgage lender, and we strongly recommend getting this performed. It’s important for new home buyers to familiarize themselves with this process as it makes them knowledgeable about the home they are purchasing. In understanding the process, it is necessary to define exactly what a home inspection is, and what an inspector's responsibilities are.
A home inspection is simply a visual inspection of a structure and property, and it is made by a trained and qualified professional. This inspector should be able to accurately assess the condition of a home based on appearance and a thorough walk through. The initial inspection does not involve any intrusive measures, but it should identify any intrusive measures that are necessary. It is the responsibility of the inspector to identify things such as any leaks, mold, visual damage, apparent structural damage, and any other elements that may affect your decision to purchase the home. Your inspector should also identify and detail areas that may need repair in the near future but are not in critical shape.
Every aspect of the home is considered during a proper inspection. The following areas are of critical importance:
1. Chimneys - Older chimneys can be a fire hazard if they have not been kept up properly. They can also be a prime area for leakage if the base flashing was not installed properly. Many things can compromise the safety of a chimney such as damaged fireboxes, damaged brick, cracked flue liners and deteriorated dampers.
2. Electrical - This section is one of the most important inspection sites, as faulty electrical wiring is the cause of many home fires every year. Inspectors will consider connections at the entry point (overhead wires), the main panel, outlets inside and outside, and the service size or rated amperage of the panel. One of the most common problems in the electrical system is “do-it-yourself” wiring jobs. As a side note, be sure that the wiring work on your home is always done by a certified electrician. That way you can be assured that the work done is up to code, and it will not mistakenly overload the circuits.
3. Exterior - The most important aspect of the exterior of the home is whether or not it is water tight. An inspection will consider the kinds of sealants that were used in construction, the materials used for the outer shell of the home, and the condition of these elements. Proper inspection will indicate the level of water intrusion and weather wear on the exterior of the home. The most common cause of exterior distress is a lack of maintenance by the owner.
4. Fireplaces - The most common problem with fireplaces is creosote buildup in the flue, firebox deterioration, and improper materials utilized for gas connections and natural gas lines. Also, bad connections on gas fireplaces are found quite often during home inspections. There are generally fewer problems with closed and contained gas fireplaces than there are with older, open wood burning fireplaces.
5. Foundations - The foundation is one of the most important areas of your home. A good inspection will ensure that there is no cracking or bowing, and that the foundation isn’t susceptible to frost-induced uplift or any other land-based concern like soil erosion or water intrusion. Also, the inspection should ensure that any additions to the home have not damaged the foundation in any way.
6. Framing - Inferior framing is evident if the walls seem bowed or if gaps have appeared above the doors. This can mean that there is insufficient header support. Bowed walls can also mean that poor quality lumber was used in the construction of the home.