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Why Do You Need a Home Inspection?

What is a Home Inspection?

In essence, a home inspection is a snapshot of a house on the day of the inspection. It is a non-invasive, visual evaluation of the property's basic structure, foundation or basement, interior, exterior, roof, electrical, plumbing and heating and cooling systems. The purpose of an inspection is to detect major visible problems or defects and unsafe conditions.

A home inspection may be used to provide information for various purposes. There are pre-purchase inspections, new home construction and one-year walk-through inspections, pre-listing inspections and inspections for the purpose of litigation in construction defect cases.

Most often, a home inspection is used to assist a client in making a more informed purchasing decision. The inspector may also educate the buyer as to typical life expectancies, items to budget for replacement as well as how to take care of and maintain the property.

The 3-Rule Approach to Home Inspection

When conducting an inspection of your home, do not assume the condition or status of anything, or become focused on small objects and completely overlook the big picture. Of course, it is just as easy to bypass the smaller things by running through the house scanning for the big items. Remember, you are a detective looking for clues and symptoms; little signs can be very helpful.

If you stick to the following three basic rules, you should be able to give your home a thorough inspection, and feel safe in the knowledge that you have solved The Case of The Suspicious Home Condition.

Rule One

Stand back and look at the big picture. For example, an outside wall: Stand back and look straight on, let your eyes follow the walls up, down, and across. Look for any abnormalities, heavy shadowing, bulges, etc. Then stand at one end of the wall and sight up and across. This angle will show different rolls, bulges and even signs of sagging (which could indicate settling).

Rule Two

Get an up-close look. For example, an outside wall: Let your eyes travel up and down each section of siding and look for irregularities such as dark shadows which with vinyl could indicated the siding is not interlocking. Look for damaged sections with cracks or holes.

Rule Three

Touch whatever and wherever possible. For example, an outside wall: By touching the siding you can feel if it is properly interlocked, inadequately nailed or extremely loose. By wiping your hand along it you can see if it is chalking.

Two more examples of the 3-Rule Approach:

Example: Roof

  1. Look at the shingles and roof shape from the ground; use binoculars if necessary. Get on the roof if possible, and look for overall sagging bulging, or major abnormalities.
  2. Get at one end of the shingle run and sight for overall straight runs. Climb to the peak and sight down the key ways and look for overall straightness. This will give you a quick reference of the workmanship quality or competency. Look at the valleys for tar, which could indicate an older leak.
  3. See if the shingles are properly nailed by lifting the tabs if possible. Look at the plumbing vents to see if they are dry rotted.

Example: Water Heater

  1. Look at the kind of system (electric, gas, solar, etc). Check its general condition, age, location, and set up.
  2. Trace the plumbing for proper connections; look for corrosion at the connections, proper relief valve and direction, and signs of rust at the bottom.
  3. Try to trace rust to its origin. Open the access panels, look for corrosion at the element, look for rust inside the jacket and on the tank when insulation allows, and check the thermostat setting and the water temperature.

This system can be applied to everything in an inspection, including heat pumps, drywall, doors, rafters, and crawlspaces.

Useful Tips: Why Get an Inspection? | Constants: Timing and Age | Preparing for Inspection | Aluminum Circuit Wiring | Environmental Concerns | All About Mold | Caring for Your Deck