You bought a house? Congratulations!
Now it’s time for the home inspection. A home inspection is an often anxiety-inducing event for new home buyers, as a bad inspection could mean that you walk away from the purchase. An inspection could reveal significant damage to the home or large-scale repairs that may be necessary.
To learn more about what home inspectors look for, read on. Here are 7 areas that they focus on.
1. Water Damage and Moisture
Water damage can happen in any home, even brand new ones. The damage could be caused by a plumbing issue, poorly installed windows or doors, or leaks from appliances. If you see signs of damage, such as water spots, mold, or it smells musty, you want to make sure it’s not a consistent issue with the home or simply a one-time issue that was fixed.
Inspectors have moisture meters that can test whether the moisture levels are normal or abnormal. If they are normal, it’s likely that it was a one-time issue.
If there are no outward signs of moisture, the inspector can also use a thermal camera to find any abnormally high temperatures, which could signify moisture that is not showing outward signs.
Minor plumbing issues are common. A slow drain, a faucet with a tiny leak, a toilet that needs a new flusher or flapper, etc. Inspectors will test all faucets, look under the sinks, check the toilets, and make sure the plumbing is working properly.
If they find signs of larger issues, such as leaking pipes, cross-contamination, or the need for major repairs due to poor installation, you could be facing expensive repairs.
Electrical and plumbing problems are some of the common issues inspectors find. Inspectors will test the outlets in the home to make sure they work and also examine your electrical panel and circuit breakers to make sure they are up to code.
Code regulations change over the years, so if the home is an older one, it may need updates to the electrical system.
Things that they look for include:
- Ground fault circuit interrupters (GFI) outlets in bathrooms and kitchens
- Wiring that is not up to code
- Any light switches that do not work
- Stripped wires
- Underpowered breakers
- Uncovered wiring
Many electrical problems are easy fixes that many buyers will ask the home sellers to make before the sale of the home closes.
4. HVAC Problems
HVAC problems can be expensive fixes, especially if your heating or cooling systems need to be replaced. Your inspector will check to make sure these are working properly and that they are properly wired.
If you have a gas furnace, they will inspect whether there is adequate ventilation to prevent aginst gas leaks and they’ll check the ductwork and flue pipes to ensure there are no cracks in them and that they were properly installed.
5. Ventilation and Insulation
If you live in an area with cold winters, you’ll want a home that is properly insulated. If not, your HVAC system will be inefficient and you can lose much of the heat in your home. An inspector looks for areas with insufficient insulation and how sturdy the existing insulation is.
They’ll also inspect ventilation systems to make sure there is proper ventilation in bathrooms, laundry rooms, etc.
6. Grading and Drainage Around the Home
When you view the home, you might not notice any drainage issues if it isn’t training or hasn’t recently rained. These issues might come as a surprise during the inspection if the inspector finds that there is poor drainage or the yard isn’t graded properly.
Water that pools around the base of the home can cause mold if it has nowhere to go. Pooling water could also leak into basements and crawlspace, causing dangerous black mold and mildew.
8. Structural Problems
Structural problems can be caused by improper grading and drainage. Other signs of structural issues include issues with the foundation, such as a crack, shifting, lateral movement, or even evidence of sinkholes.
While major structural issues are not common, they can be very costly to repair if an inspector discovers them.
9. Life Expectancies
Appliances and equipment in homes have life expectancies. Air conditioners, furnaces, water heaters, and kitchen appliances don’t last forever. Your home inspector will look at the serial number to see when it was manufactured and installed and give you an idea of the life expectancy of it.
Typically these systems are installed at the time the home is built, so they might need to be replaced around the same time. This can be expensive, especially if it happens shortly after you move in.
An inspector will help you understand how much time you might have left on the various systems within the home.
10. Code Violations
Code violations can often occur if homeowners DIY renovations or hire contractors who don’t follow local codes. In these cases, it’s possible that the home inspector is the first person to inspect that work, and they may find code violations.
While inspectors aren’t experts in city or county codes, they can identify egregious code violations, such as DIY-electrical work, issues with ventilation, lack of egress windows in basements, improper fasteners for decks, etc.
Things Home Inspectors Look for to Protect You
The things that home inspectors look for are meant to provide you with an overall picture of the home that aren’t apparent on the surface. A home can look great, but underneath nice floors and fixtures, expensive and dangerous problems could be lurking.
Talking to your inspector after the inspection to learn the extent of the problems will help you decide whether to move forward with the purchase of the home or walk away.
If you are purchasing a new home or getting ready to sell yours and want to know if your home has any significant issues, contact us today to scheduled a home inspection.