Home inspection checklists online don’t explain enough. It’s time to move beyond the old-school checkbox style of home inspections. Home inspectors will look at seven key areas of your home in depth.
You probably have a home inspection coming up, but you’re not sure what they look for. Once we’re done, you’ll really know what your professional home inspector is talking about when they say they do a “thorough” inspection.
A very important part of your home buying process will include a home inspection contingency. The home inspection contingency allows home buyers to hire a certified home inspection professional to conduct a thorough inspection of the home. This is so the inspector can identify and report any issues or problems to the home buyer. It is always recommended to have a certified, experienced home inspection prior to buying a home.
The home buyer may want to negotiate with a seller to fix or repair items found during the inspection. In some rare cases, a home buyer may want to walk away from the purchase of the home.
Less than 15% of U.S. homebuyers walk away after a home inspection according to post inspection studies with homeowners.
After your home inspection, the home inspector emails you with a highly detailed report that includes a checklist and sections dividing the home’s main features, living areas, systems and functions of systems. This includes important information about your equipment and appliances, age and remaining expected years.
The detailed home inspection report includes photographs and notes documenting areas where your inspector found issues. This will include details about problems, major areas of concern.
Inspection day is an important meeting for homebuyers to be at. Homebuyers experience a important but often overlooked aspect of a home inspection; the home inspection walkthrough. While your home inspector is going through the home, you are getting a live reporting of items or notes he will add to his report.
The home inspection walkthrough gives a buyer the opportunity to ask questions and learn about the major systems and appliances in the home. This question-and-answer time during the inspection is one of the top features every home buyer reports as a “valuable opportunity. Some homebuyers report that it’s as important as the inspection itself!
How to Prepare for your Home Inspection
It’s a good idea to look over a home inspection checklist to familiarize yourself with they myriad of details involved in what your inspector is looking at. You may also want to consider add-on home inspection services you want your inspector to perform.
Most add on inspection services include mold testing, sewer inspection with video scope, radon testing and or air quality testing. Having a home inspection checklist list also helps homeowners prepare questions they want to ask their inspector as well as convey any specific areas of concern they want the inspector to look at.
7 Areas Inspected During a Home Inspection: A Home Inspection Checklist
Taking a look at a home inspection checklist shows just how thorough and detailed home inspections really are.
The inspector is there to ensure you are aware of everything about your future home and that there are no surprises. The 7 categories looked at during your home inspection below include quite a few details to show you just how deep and detailed your inspector will be getting to be sure you have all the information you need.
Although this list is comprehensive, it’s not all encompassing. Let’s just say that thoroughness is one way to describe what really is a deep investigative look, from top to bottom, at your future home. Your licensed and experienced professional inspector will not miss a thing!
Your home inspector is looking for any signs of needed repair, leaks or issues with pests, poor insulation, poor ventilation looking closely at shingles for curling, cupping or loss of granulation and checking overall for broken, damaged or missing shingles. Wood shingles is where an inspector is looking for signs of rot, mold or decay including cracked/broken or missing shingles without curling issues. Flashing around roof penetrations, soffits and fascia for decay or stains, exterior venting for eave areas and if vents are clean. When it comes to gutters, your home inspector is looking for signs of rust, if joints are sealed, is decay present and if the gutter is attached securely to the home. Signs of bending, sagging or sections of gutter or downspout missing, mud deposits and if the gutters are clogged or clean and free of debris.
Your home inspector is looking for signs of pests and nests, for stains on the underside of roofing, especially around roof penetrations. They look for evidence of decay or damage to the structure and if sufficient insulation is present and properly installed. A very important aspect of an attic inspection is looking for adequate ventilation and clear paths in the attic for air entering through soffit vents, and if all mechanical ventilation is actually operational. They also are looking to be sure that no exhaust, appliance or plumbing vents terminate in the attic, which can cause its own set of problems. Inspections have found this, as well as unsupported beams being held up by children’s game boxes, cinderblocks or buckets and even open electrical splices or large stacked nesting materials that are a sure sign critters have gotten in.
2. Major Systems: HVAC, Electrical, Plumbing
When it comes to cooling systems, the focus is on a visual inspection of your cooling system and age, and does not include window or wall mounted air conditioning units. Your inspector does not look at the adequacy of cooling or conduct pressure tests on coolant systems. Such tests are not within the scope of a home inspector.
Things to keep in mind:
A home inspector does not dismantle or judge the systems efficiency or remove secured covers. Interior components or interior conditions of cooling systems are also not evaluated and require a licensed professional specializing in these systems.
When your home inspector is evaluating heating and cooling systems, electrical or plumbing, they will indicate the age and remaining lifespan of the systems and components. They are also looking for typical areas or signs for concern about the systems.
In an HVAC system. your home inspector is looking for airflow, ventilation, ductwork, condition of flues, odors, or rust and any typical signs there are issues. As far as heating systems, a visual inspection of exposed or accessible equipment is looked at such as your thermostat, venting, and means of air distribution.
Items are examined for age, proper function, the presence of wear and tear and general state and of whether it’s needing repair and what repairs may be necessary.
Tip: It’s important to remember, that your inspector cannot remove the components or disassemble parts of the furnace.
Such inspections are outside the standards of practice for home inspectors. We always recommend a homeowner wanting reliability and best efficiency of these systems, to defer to annual servicing and inspections by qualified heating, cooling, plumbing or electrical specialist.
If anything is found during the inspection that needs their professional service and your attention your home inspector will inform you.
Electrical Systems and Components:
This visual inspection is of exposed or accessible branch circuits, wiring, service panel, lighting fixtures, switches. Focus is on proper grounding, wiring methods, service equipment or the presence of adverse conditions that can cause issues such as lack of grounding, over-fusing and exposed wiring, reverse polarity and defective GFCI’s.
The home inspector does not examine every length of wire or connection in a home, including telephone, video, audio, security systems or cable. We recommend homes with security systems have the seller show you that it works and advise you the locations of the system. Your inspector is focused on service line entrance, presence of smoke alarms and location and functionality, the main panel, circuits and conductors, outlets, fixtures, and the switches and is paying particular attention to see if there’s any obvious signs that issues are present that could cause other major problems you should be aware of.
To summarize, your inspector is trained at spotting and seeing signs of issues that any one of your major systems can have, the age and possible repairs that could be needed but they do not inspect inside components and systems because that requires a licensed professional in that area of expertise and trade.
If your inspector notices something of concern they will convey it to you during the walk through with you on inspection day and it will be noted in the report that is sent to you and your real estate agent.
The potential red flags your home inspector is looking for in bathrooms include looking for leaks and plumbing issues and past or present signs of water damage. They give attention to bathroom fixtures and plumbing for signs of standing water, leaks or if there was previous water damage. Even leaky faucets get noted in an inspection report.
All the areas around your shower, bathtub and toilets get checked, as well as ensuring that the sink and toilet are tight and not loose and wobbly. A loose sink or toilet are likely to become the cause for future leaks. They also ensure the toilet operates properly.
The presence of mold that was caused by past water leaks and signs of present leaking or damage, or poor ventilation that can lead to mold growth are other items your home inspector is checking for. They also check the bathroom exhaust fans to ensure they operate, as well as whether the fan venting leads to the exterior of the home and is not being improperly vented into your attic.
Every bathroom needs proper ventilation where excess moisture can escape. Your inspector will look for condensation or streaking on walls and windows, and if the bathroom GFCI receptacle includes the important reset button and that the reset is functioning. Your breaker box should include outlets for bathrooms and kitchen. This is an important feature that should always be present in rooms where water or moisture are present.
Your bathroom floors can also reveal leaks or water damage by certain tell-tale signs, so your inspector is also checking for any presence of mold or mildew around baseboards, and even detailed items such as caulking and grout condition are noted in an inspection report.
Adequate flow and pressure at all fixtures to ensure the sink, tub and shower drain properly. Plumbing and cabinet floor under the sink, whether the sink is metal and showing signs of rust.
4. Kitchen and Appliances
This is one of the most important rooms in a home so working exhaust fans that vent to the homes exterior are looked at as well as the GFCI electrical outlets and if GFCI protection for the outlets is within 6 feet of the sink, dishwasher or leaks and if there are leaks in pipes under sinks, floor in cabinet under the sink has no stains or decay, water flow in sinks are adequate. The inspector also looks at the age of appliances and if built in appliances operate as well as if cabinets are in good condition with doors and drawers that operate properly.
5. Interior Rooms
Floors, walls and ceilings appear to be straight and level, presence of stains on floors, walls or ceilings, condition of flooring materials and if there are significant cracks in walls or ceilings. Your inspector checks windows and exterior doors to ensure they operate easily or latch properly and whether the windows and doors have weather-stripping or weep holes installed. Inspectors also check doors to see if they operate easily and latch properly or have signs of damage, decay or broken hardware.
Other interior rooms items your home inspector is looking at include the paint, wallcoverings or paneling (if any, wood trim, lights and switches that operate properly, if there are adequate numbers of 3 pronged electrical outlets in each room and they test properly. They also look at the heating and cooling source in each habitable room.
6. Exterior and Structural
Looking at the exterior grounds involves checking the surface drainage, grading, fencing or gates, driveway, patio’s, sidewalks as well as looking at the exterior of the homes trim, eaves, fascia’s, decks, porch, doors, windows, downspouts. Your inspector will look at the grading of the soil for signs of proper drainage of surface and roof water and it’s ability to flow away from the foundation. Your inspector is looking for proper function, poor installation and signs of wear or for items needing repair.
This focus is on the presence of any minor or major cracks in the foundation. Minor cracks are fairly typical in foundations without there being any underlying structural problem. If major cracks are present your inspector will recommend further inspection by a specialist.
7. Basement/Crawl Space
The basement is another important area in your home that seasoned professional home inspectors investigate thoroughly. The inspector is looking for evidence of moisture, if the exposed foundation has any stains or major cracks, flaking and confirming there is no efflorescence.
They look if there is visible structural wood showing any signs of sagging, damage, stains or insect damage. The crawl space is looked at to ensure it’s adequately vented to the exterior, evidence of insect damage or moisture damage is checked as well as insulation between the crawl space and heated areas, installed with a vapor barrier towards a heated area and if insulation on exposed water supply, waste and vent pipes is present.
When your home inspector is inspecting your basement they note any presence of mildew odor which can indicate past or present issues with water in the basement that promotes the growth of mold and mildew also.
If you’re planning to purchase a home or even sell your current home, consider a professional and affordable home inspector in Michigan at Top Floor Home Inspection. Get the in-depth look and detailed reporting you need.
We deliver reports within 24 hours after your inspection directly to your email!