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Courses in this Department

How Ready Are You to Buy a Home?

Determining Your Dream Home and Finding It!

Factory Built Homes Are Worth a Look

Purchase Manufactured Homes with FHA Loan

How to Buy a Foreclosed Home

Pros and Cons of Corner Lots

Know the Neighborhood Before You Buy

Tune in to an Open House on the Radio

Finding a Qualified Broker or Agent

Shopping for a Loan and Choosing a Lender

How to Improve Your Credit

How to Survive the Loan Application Process

Making an Offer and Signing Contracts

Cancel Your Contract in 3 Days

Understanding the Closing/Settlement Process

Choosing Home Inspection and Settlement Professionals

Double Check Your New Home - The Walkthrough

Know Your Consumer Rights

Seniors Have Many Housing Opportunities

Preparing for the Big Day -- Relocating Moving

Make Your Home Your Castle - Cost Effective Redecorating Ideas


The Home Inspection:
What Does It Include?

The Definition...
And some details.

A home inspection includes a total house and property assessment. The inspector will look at the structure, fixtures and appliances. He will look for potential hazards and costly repairs. And he will often give advice to you about maintenance to reduce repairs in the future.

The inspection will take about 2 to 3 hours. The inspector will perform a thorough visual inspection of the major systems and components of the structure, roof, interior and exterior surfaces and the plumbing, heating, cooling and electrical systems. He will examine the lot grading and look for any signs of water damage or dampness in the basement. The insulation and ventilation will also be reviewed.

What an Inspector Looks For...
And your job too.

Your inspector will point out areas of concern and offer suggestions. Always ask questions. That is what a home inspector is there for. If he finds areas that may need substantial repairs, he often can offer an estimate for repairs. You may want to verify the cost of repairs with local contractors before agreeing to that amount with the seller. You don't want to be caught short when the repairs are done.

Although you may be most concerned with the architectural details, wall and floor coverings, modern conveniences and many other factors in your buying decision, the focus of the home inspection is on the structural/mechanical/electrical condition of the property. The inspection is designed to give the real estate agent and buyer a concrete, unbiased way to detect some of the readily accessible major flaws or deficiencies in the significant components and systems of a home. However, it is not designed to, nor can it profess to facilitate detection of all flaws and problems that might exist in any given home.

The Report
What is it? And what does it entail?

Your inspector should give you a written report about the house and some information about home repair and maintenance.

Most home inspections include review of the following items:

The Bigger Picture

The first step in inspecting a home is to look at the neighborhood. Are there other homes of similar age and construction details similar to the home being inspected? A comparison will give you a general idea of the upkeep of the home. Have there been significant modifications to the exterior of the building and if so, how is the workmanship?


He will review the exterior of the home from top to bottom on each side, noting where the roof line picks up, the structure, the gutters, soffits, and fascia are. He will look at the lot grade and the landscaping. Then, he will review the exterior wall coverings (brick, wood, aluminum), noting windows, doors, etc. Most inspectors start away from the house to take in the big view before moving closer to the house, to examine more closely any details which may have attracted attention, without skipping any items.


On the interior, the inspection will begin in the either the basement or the attic so the inspector can work top to bottom or bottom to top. This helps prevent missing anything. The inspector will look at the floor, the walls, the ceiling, and then consider any appliances or other items in the room. He will open every door.

Typical Elements
Typical problems.

The following are some typical problems an inspector looks for in the major components and systems of the home.

  • ROOF

    Is the ridge (peak) showing a sag, or is it straight and level? Is the roof sagging between the rafters or trusses? Are there any signs of deterioration of asphalt shingles, such as curling, broken edges, rounded corners or key holes (slits) becoming wider that normal? Any loose flashings, at the chimney, roof-to-wall connection or elsewhere? Does the wooden roof deck appear rotted or delaminated under the last row of shingles? Are there any roof vents visible?


    Is the masonry cap cracked or broken? Are any bricks flaking or missing? Mortar missing? Is the chimney leaning?


    He will note whether the soffits and fascia are wood, aluminum or plastic Any loose or missing sections? If wood, are there any paint problems? Any visible rot?


    Ensure gutters slope down toward downspouts Any rust or peeling paint? Apparent leaks or loose/sagging sections? Are the downspouts extended away from the foundations?


    Look for missing mortar Are the bricks flaking or cracking? Look for loose, missing or rotted siding, deteriorated paint. Does the siding appear new? Does it hide the foundation wall? Exterior walls bowed, bulged or leaning?


    Look for problems with paint or caulking, and rotted wood components. Are the windows new or older? Are they the original windows? How old are they?


    Cracking or flaking masonry? Check for paint problems, rotted wood, and wood-earth contact. Note any settlement or separation from the house. Inspect the underside, if accessible.


    Check for cracks, flaking or damaged masonry. Note any water markings Any bowing or other irregularities? Soft mortar? LOT AREA Does the grade slope away from the house? Any settled/low areas next to the foundation, or cracked walks/driveway? Is the property lower than the street or neighboring properties?


    Note any evidence of water penetration (stains, mildew/odors, loose tiles etc.)


    Check for deteriorated coverings or cracked ceramics. Any water staining or other damage? Sloping or sagging?


    Randomly sample to check that the windows and doors work. Are the walls straight vertically and horizontally? He will look for cracked or loose plaster. And for stains, physical damage or previous repair evidence. Any drywall seams or nails showing?


    Check for cracks in the plaster or loose, sagging plaster. Look for stains, mechanical damage or evidence of previous repair. Seams or nails showing?


    Check that all fixtures are secure. Are there any cracks in the fixtures? Note the condition of the tiles and caulking in the tub/shower area. Are the faucets working? Do they leak? Sufficient water pressure? Look for staining and rot under the counter-tops Randomly sample the operation of the cabinet doors and drawers.


    Type, style and age of heating & cooling systems. When were they last inspected or serviced? Type of water supply piping and drains - any visible rust and corrosion? Size and age of electrical service - are the outlets grounded? Visible wiring in good condition? Have there been any upgrades?

Sounds easy why do I need someone to do it for me?

The Reasons for Hiring Out
There are some pretty compelling ones!

While it may sound easy... The professional report is important. This may sound easy. So why can't you do it yourself? You may have extensive knowledge and may have been involved in repairs or renovations; you might even be a building tradesperson... but most people do not have the kind of knowledge and experience required to effectively perform an inspection and analysis of a complete building. In addition, the excitement and the processes involved in buying a home are not usually conducive to making calm and objective assessments of the property you want. Your word also won't carry as much weight with the seller as an objective, trained third party. If you want maximum negotiation power, use a professional.

What if the report reveals problems?
What then?

Almost every report reveals some minor repair and maintenance concerns, even if the property has been well maintained, but these flaws should not normally affect your purchase decision. If however major defects are revealed, you may decide to re-negotiate your offer. And it is possible that you may decide that the nature of the work required is beyond your means or ability and that the house is not for you. The choice is yours.

Now You Know You Need a Professional...

But how do you find one?

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