A home inspection is like a full physical with your doctor. You may go in frequently for dental cleanings, cold medication, or to check a suspicious freckle, but every so often you need a top-to-bottom assessment to make sure everything is in ship shape.
The same basic principle applies to your home. While you might have professionals clean your HVAC, flush your water heater, and treat the odd electrical problem, you really can’t sell a home without allowing a home inspector to perform a thorough examination of the structure.
For sellers, a home inspection provides the information needed to make fixes before a sale, or else make necessary disclosures to avoid trouble down the line. For buyers, a home inspection details exactly what they’re getting into so they can negotiate for fixes, or alternately, a better price on the property to offset the work they’ll do once the home is theirs.
What you might not know, as a buyer or seller, is just what is covered during a home inspection. Will a professional do a once over or really get in the nooks and crannies? Here’s what you can reasonably expect to see included in your home inspection report.
The roof is a portion of the home that suffers the onslaught of the elements but doesn’t tend to get a lot of attention. As a result, it can become deteriorated, which is why home inspectors go up top to take a look. It is common to check the roofing materials, flashing and vents, gutters and downspouts, and any chimneys, skylights, or other additions that may be present. Inspectors will also look at the other side when they check the attic, focusing not only on insulation and ventilation but also the inner structure of the roof.
It is the job of a home inspector to deliver a comprehensive overview of the condition of your home, and this includes both interior and exterior components. In addition to the roof, an inspector will generally examine the siding material, windows and doors, flashing and trim porches and stairways, and perhaps the landscaping and drainage near the home. Naturally, there are many other small details that will be covered during the course of the inspection, but these are the basics.
The inspection of the home interior will focus not so much on cosmetic issues, but rather on overarching concerns like structural integrity. In addition to the attic, your inspector will look at the basement and crawlspaces, the foundation, and other structural components of the home.
You might think a home inspection begins and ends with looking at the inside and outside of the structure, but there are also functional systems that need to be examined and tested, starting with the plumbing. Inspectors will flush toilets, run faucets, assess drainage, shut the main valve off and on, check the water heater, and generally make sure that plumbing components are working as they should.
Another internal system inspectors want to assess is the electrical system. To that end they will examine and test a variety of components, such as switches and outlets, lighting fixtures, the meter and service drop, panelboards, and so on. They may also check safety components in the home like smoke and carbon-monoxide detectors.
Finally, a home inspection typically includes an examination of your HVAC system, complete with checking components and testing both the heating and air conditioning (if applicable) to make sure everything works.
There are certain services that aren’t covered by the average home inspection, but often, you can add them on, sometimes for an additional fee. If, for example, you have a swimming pool, a private well, private septic, or outbuildings, you should ask your home inspection company if they can add them to the checklist. Some companies will also inspect for certain pests (like wood destroying organisms). You should ask for a full listing of services to find out what is offered.