How to Inspect a Home
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 overlook the big picture. Remember, you are a detective looking for clues and symptoms; little signs can be very helpful. Stick to the following three rules to give your home a thorough inspection:
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 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).
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 could indicated vinyl siding that is not interlocking. Look for damaged sections with cracks or holes.
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.
Inspecting a Roof
- Look at the shingles and roof shape from the ground; use binoculars if necessary. Get on the roof and look for sagging, bulging, or major abnormalities.
- 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. Look at the valleys for tar, which could indicate an older leak.
- See if the shingles are properly nailed by lifting the tabs. Look at the plumbing vents to see if they are dry rotted.
Inspecting a Water Heater
- Determine the kind of system (electric, gas, solar, etc). Check its general condition, age, location, and setup.
- Trace the plumbing for proper connections; look for corrosion at the connections, proper relief valve and direction, and signs of rust at the bottom.
- 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 method can be applied to everything in an inspection, including heat pumps, drywall, doors, rafters, and crawlspaces.