Are you buying a home? Buying a home is probably the most complicated (and important) purchase most of us will make in our lifetime. Like any major purchase there are features and specifications for all homes. On paper it may be the features that sell the home but if any of those features are in disrepair, you might be signing up for more than you bargained for and getting less than you paid for.
When you’re purchasing a home, you need to know what you’re getting. There are a few ways you can help protect yourself — one of them is with a thorough home inspection. Hiring a qualified home inspection company to take a look at the home you’re interested in buying is very important. At the same time, you need to understand what’s involved with a home inspection so years after your purchase, you can keep up with the maintenance of your home. Here’s why…
When you are buying a home it is important that you understanding what’s involved with a home inspection. It can pay dividends for the rest of the time you own your house.
First, it’s important to note that some things are not covered in a standard home inspection:
Pests – Pest inspections require a licensed pest control specialist to perform inspections of building structures to determine damage or possibility of damage from pests.
Radon — Radon gas is an invisible, odorless gas produced by the normal breakdown of uranium in the soil.
Lead paint – Inspecting a home for lead-based paint is not typically included in a home inspection because it takes place over several days and requires special equipment.
Mold – Mold inspection is a separate inspection because it requires three separate air samples and surface sample analysis. Since mold inspection is beyond the scope of a traditional home inspection, be sure to specifically ask your home inspector if he or she would recommend a mold inspection.
Asbestos – Asbestos is generally outside the scope of a home inspection because asbestos requires its own thorough review. Like with mold inspections, be sure to specifically ask your home inspector if he or she would recommend a separate asbestos inspection.
Orangeberg Sewer Pipe — Also known as “fiber conduit”, Orangeberg Sewer Pipe is bitumenized fiber pipe made from layers of wood pulp and pitch pressed together. It was used from the 1860s through the 1970s, when it was replaced by PVC pipe for water delivery and ABS pipe for drain-waste-vent (DWV) applications.
The first thing to point out is that every home and home buyer are different which means that every home inspection is different and the importance of home inspection items are different. Below are some common things that are inspected during a home inspection. Keep in mind that some items in this checklist may not be necessary for your particular home – and that this list does not include all the item inspected by a professional home inspection service.
General Home Inspection Checklist
Lot and Neighborhood
Does the grade slope away from the home or towards the home
Are there any areas where the soil has settled near the foundation or driveway?
What is the elevation of the home in relation to the street and neighbors?
Is the peak of the roof straight and level? Or is there sagging?
What is the condition of the roof vents? Are they visible?
Are there gaps between flashing and chimneys, walls or other parts of the roof?
Is there sagging anywhere else on the roof such as between the rafters or trusses?
What kind of shingles are used? How much deterioration has set in such as curling, warping, broken shingles or wider gaps between shingles in the roof?
Is the chimney square to the home and level? Or is it leaning?
What is the condition of the bricks? Are any bricks flaking or missing?
What is the condition of the mortar? Is it cracked, broken or missing entirely?
Is the siding original to the house? If not, how old is the siding and how is it holding up?
Are the walls square and level or bowed, bulged or leaning
What material is the siding? Brick, wood or plastic?
What condition is the siding in?
Is there loose, missing, rotten or deteriorated siding or paint?
How does the siding fit connect to the foundation?
Soffits and Fascia
What are the soffits and fascia made of? Common materials include wood, aluminum or plastic?
Are there any problems such as rotting or broken pieces?
Are there any missing pieces of soffit or fascia?
Gutters and Downspouts
Are there any leaks or gaps in gutters or downspouts?
Does the gutter slope toward downspouts?
Is there any rust or peeling paint?
Are all gutters and downspouts securely fastened?
Is there a sufficient separation of the downspouts from the foundation?
Doors and Windows
Are there any problems with paint, caulking or rotten wood?
Are the windows original to the home? If not, how old are they?
Decks or Porches
What is the porch or deck made of? Check for paint problems, rotted wood and wood-earth contact.
Is there any settlement or separation from the house?
If possible, inspect the underside of the porch or deck.
Are there any cracks, flaking or damaged masonry?
Are there any water markings and powdery substances on the foundation? If so where are they located?
Are the walls square vertically and horizontally? Or bowed, bulged or leaning?
Is there any evidence of water penetration (stains, mildew/odors, powdery substances, loose tiles, etc.)
Is there any deterioration of flooring or carpet?
Are there any cracks in the tiles or mortar?
Do you notice any water damage or stains from previous water damage?
Is there any sagging or sloped flooring?
Check that the majority of windows and doors work.
Are the walls square and vertically and horizontally straight?
Is there any cracked or loose plaster?
Look for stains, physical damage or evidence of previous repair.
Are there any drywall seams or nails showing?
Review all plaster for cracks or loose or sagging areas.
Are there any stains from water or mechanical damage or evidence of previous repair?
Are there any seams or nails showing?
Kitchens and Bathrooms
Check that all fixtures are secure including sinks, faucets, toilets and cabinetry
Are there any cracks in the fixtures?
What is the condition of the tiles and caulking surrounding sinks and tub and shower areas?
What is the condition of the faucets? Do they work? Is there sufficient water pressure?
Check under countertops for any water stains or rotting materials.
Check that the majority of the cabinet doors and drawers are in working order.
Electrical and Mechanical
Type, style and age of heating and cooling systems with service history.
Type, age and condition of water supply piping and drains.
Size and age of electrical service — Are the outlets grounded? Visible wiring in good condition?
The Importance of a Home Inspection Professional
As you can see, the home inspection checklist is exhaustive (and this list doesn’t even cover it all!) So if you’re in the market for a new house or are in the process of purchasing a new home, make sure you have a home inspection done by a reliable home inspection company – so you can protect yourself from the unforeseen. Also periodically review the items on this home inspection checklist so you can ensure the working order of your home for years to come.
Derek Wetlaufer is the President of Springer Professional Home Services