THERE ARE 4 MAJOR POINTS ON AN INSPECTION
Inspections concentrate on these categories in every location around the house: Structural Integrity; Plumbing; Electrical; and Mechanical & AC. Inspectors are always checking in every part of the house for evidence of cracks in walls or caulking, water infiltration or leaks, insulation deficits, proper wiring, household wear and tear beyond the norm, proper appliance operation, etc.
By far the most important consideration during a home inspection is the structural integrity of the house. Structural problems could cost you an immense amount of money if undetected before you commit to buying a home. A professional inspector is trained to spot the tell-tale signs of structural problems that you could easily overlook without expert help. Hereís a very short list of the types of things a trained inspector will investigate.
* Start with the Exterior of the House
An inspector will start with a walk-around to look for cracks in exterior walls or in the slab. Many houses have a few minor, cosmetic, non-structural cracks that do not suggest structural damage (we pointed a few of these out in our segment). A house built on a floating slab is designed to move as the ground moves through the course of a year (4" to 6"depending on the severity of the seasons), but major shifts could cause cracks in the foundation and damage to the house.
Check the grading of the yard on all sides to ensure water drains away from the house. A professional inspector will use a gas leak detector to check the mechanism that feeds gas into the house from the street line for any leaks or loose connections. Check the device that feeds electricity from the street to the house for any loose wires or covers. Check the air conditioning condenser. Make sure the area around it is free of shrubs or obstructions that could impede fresh air-flow to the unit. Check the power rating to make sure the circuit running the air conditioner provides sufficient power for that model.
* Check the Roof
Climb a ladder (and walk around the roof if itís safe to do so) for a visual inspection of the roof to look for leaks, aging or curling shingles, and general wear and tear. If itís unsafe or impractical to walk on the roof or climb a ladder to reach the roof, use a pair of binoculars from ground level to inspect roof conditions.
* Check the Attic
Check the primary and secondary drainage for the AC power unit. The primary drainage hose should run down into the home on a line attached to a bathroom sink. The secondary drainage line should run outside to a drainpipe near an exterior window). We'll check to make sure all struts and rafters are flush and secure, and make sure we have no broken structural members or rotting wood. Check for sufficient insulation. Check for any signs of water intrusion, or any gaps in the roof that let sunlight through.
* Check the Garage
Check the closet that holds the gas water heater for the proper ventilation (two vents: 1 above the heater and 1 below). Check the breaker box to find the maximum electrical load the house can handle. Make sure the box has sufficient breakers to distribute that load, and that each breaker has wiring with sufficient gauge to conduct that load. Look for aluminum wiring in older homes, because that poses a potential fire hazard.
* Check the Entryway
Hereís another good place to look for evidence of structural damage. Is the door jamb level? Does the door close properly? Any cracks around the doorframe?
* Check the Interior
Head straight to the sinks, showers and tubs in the kitchens and bathrooms and fill them with water. Let the water stand and return at the end of the interior inspection to check for slow leaks. Make sure hot water comes out of all hot water taps (sometimes the hot and cold lines are reversed, and sometimes the water heater doesnít heat sufficiently).
* Check All Interior Rooms
Inspect all rooms for evidence of cracks in the walls, gaps in the ceilings, or any evidence of water leakage. Check the ground fault receptacles in the kitchen and bathrooms. Test outlets for proper current. Check the gas range to ensure proper connection of the gas line. Turn on all appliances and light fixtures to make sure they function properly. Check windows and window frames for cracks that could signal some movement in the foundation.
* Check the Utility room
Check the appliance connections in the utility room for proper gas line installation, sufficient water drainage, and proper dryer ventilation. End the interior inspection by checking the sinks, showers and tubs for leaks.
* Choosing an Inspector
Some states require inspectors to be licensed; many do not. Check with your state Real Estate Commission to see if they license and to get a list of licensed inspectors. Realtors usually recommend inspectors, but it's good to get a second opinion. Check with your mortgage company or ask your friends and neighbors for recommendations.
Weíve provided only a bare-bones list of the important points to consider during a home inspection. A good thorough inspection will take 2 or 3 hours at least, and will cost $100 to $300 on average. Potential buyers should attend the inspection and ask questions, both during and after the inspection. Donít be shy about making sure you understand everything thatís discovered during an inspection so you can make an informed choice about buying the house. Remember that cosmetic problems are manageable, but any evidence of substantial structural damage should make you think twice about buying a home.