A home is arguably your biggest lifetime investment. It is not only a place to live, but the cornerstone of your life where lasting memories are made. So, if you are a prospective home buyer, a thorough home inspection is a must. Would you spend just an hour viewing a structure which is going to become your home for years to come? Well, some people do but such is a decision you can live to regret. It is imperative to look at every little detail before you make a purchase.
Typically, a home inspection is a detailed and accurate assessment of a home’s condition. You want to know that a property is safe, mechanically and structurally sound, and free of health risks. A home inspection does just that. It helps to pinpoint problems including major defects, safety issues as well as potential threats. This implies that it can be a great idea to educate yourself on the process, and perhaps even equip yourself with the relevant knowledge regarding how to inspect a home.
Home Inspection Checklist
A home inspection can be a difficult task for the average homeowner. It is not only complex, but exhaustive and a demanding job. Simply put, this is a job which should only be conducted by certified and experienced professionals. To be on the safest side, you should hire a professional home inspector to certify the state of the house you are interested in. However, it is still critical to have a general idea of what your home inspector will examine so you can follow along. Below is a list of the issues which MUST be addressed in a typical inspection process.
Exterior: An effective home inspection process will provide a complete assessment of the home’s exterior. It will identify any inconsistencies that may arise either immediately or in the near future. The most common things that will be closely examined may include visible cracks or blemishes on any surface (masonry, paint, siding as well as stuccowork). Furthermore, your inspector should pay special attention to any type of vegetation that may have found its way onto the property. If you didn’t know, plant roots can crack foundations whereas vines can destroy walls.
Structural examination: This is arguably the most important factor your inspector should consider. He should carefully and critically examine the quality and the state of the foundation on which the property was built upon. Anything that tends to destabilize the tensile strength of the home shouldn’t be ignored at all. Sagging windows and doors, bowed walls, as well as visible horizontal or vertical cracks in the foundation, are all potential telltale signs that all is not well. If any structural problem is identified, your home inspector should refer you to a certified home repair expert to further evaluate the extent of the damage. He should provide you with an estimate for the identified repair issues.
Roofing: Because replacing a roof can be quite expensive, your inspector must ensure the roof is in a stable condition. He should look for damaged, missing or aged shingles, areas with algae, moss, mold, and piles of leaves. What’s more, he shouldn’t forget to examine the vents.
Are the grounds okay? Potential signs of danger may include stagnant waters, termite damage, and rot. Another area that should not be left out is the landscaping. As a general rule, the grounds should slope away from the structure. The inspector should equally have a look at the pools, decks, patio covers, the fences as well as other outdoor amenities.
Crawlspace, basement and attic: Regarding these areas, the insulation and ventilation are the most essential factors to be considered. They are key determinants of your monthly energy usage and as such, should always be at the best condition possible.
Kitchen: The state of your kitchen plays a critical role in as far as your home health is concerned. After all, this is where you prepare your food! As such, it will require an extensive examination since it contains relatively more amenities than any other room. You want to ensure that all the appliances are functioning appropriately. Are there any visible damage signs? Do you see any signs of water damage? Are the cabinets in the perfect condition? Surely, there is a lot to be evaluated in the kitchen. However, with the help of an expert, many of these things will be closely monitored and potential problems identified. You also have a rough idea of how a good kitchen looks like, so take your time to scrutinize it even further.
Interior: An inspection of the home’s interior should include a scrutiny of the countertops and cabinets, windows and doors, installed kitchen appliances, ceilings, walls, and even floors. As you can see, it covers many things so your contractor should never assume anything. He must provide an exhaustive report about all the components. The walls must be of the same height, there shouldn’t any gaps between the walls, ceilings, and flooring. As always, be extra cautious and leave no stone unturned.
Plumbing: When it comes to plumbing, your home inspector should look at the fixtures and faucets, waste, drain, hot water, and vent systems, sump pumps as well as the sewage ejectors. Any signs of corrosion, odor, and leaks should be noted. All the components hooked up to the plumbing lines must be securely fitted. It is also important to locate the water shutoff valve and confirm if it is working.
Bathrooms: Bathrooms can be susceptible to dampness, so you must make sure there are no signs of water damage. In this regard, confirm whether or not there is an exhaust fan in the facility. Exhaust fans help to mitigate moisture problems. It is equally a great idea to ensure the caulk around every seal is working properly because this may prevent future water damage problems. As is always the case, the toilets, faucet, and shower should function as intended.
Heating and cooling unit: For the home’s cooling, heating and ventilation system, the inspector should pay close attention to the thermostats, vent systems, chimneys and exhaust systems, insulation as well as vapor retarders in unfinished spaces and distribution systems. The age of the whole unit is also a factor to consider. Generally, a unit that is more than eight years may need to be replaced. Water damage, corrosion, and missing valves are all indicators of a poor HVA unit.
Electrical system: Anything that involves working with electricity offers a considerable amount of danger, so you must seek the help of a qualified electrician. Typically, the electrical inspection will include looking at lighting fixtures, circuit interrupters, interior components of service panels and subpanels, circuit breakers, electric current protection devices among others. Potential danger signs may include burnt wood near electrical wiring, loose and exposed electrical cables and vegetation that interfere with the wiring. You also want to ensure that the home has enough amperage to satisfy your energy needs.
What type of home inspection method is best for me?
Generally, there are three categories of home inspection which includes:
Do-It-Yourself: Even though this procedure is not highly recommended, investors have a right to go about a home inspection themselves. Unless you are highly experienced and have relevant knowledge regarding inspection, it may be difficult to achieve the desired results. As we previously mentioned, this is a job best left for the most qualified.
Working with a professional: You have every reason to hire a certified inspector. They boast the much-needed industry expertise and the training which enables them to purposefully scrutinize each and every property, down to the finest detail. What’s more, an experienced inspector is well equipped to examine a property from an unbiased perspective. They have the rare ability to inspect a property and make a judgment void of emotional attachment. Knowing that you are protecting your investment, hiring a professional on a small fee should really be your ultimate option.
Negotiate with the seller: If you didn’t know, there are unique instances where you may be forced to compromise with the seller. There is no doubt home inspection is arguably the greatest risk mitigation strategy you can have. However, there are a few exceptions. If skipping the inspection process can help you land a great deal, why should you hesitate? Some owners would rather sell without having the property inspected, and will probably give a priority to potential buyers willing to forgo that process. So evaluate your options and always go for the best.
As an investor, it is important that you know and understand the current state of the home you are purchasing. Even if you are quite certain there are no major problems, a home inspection not only offers the much-needed peace of mind but allows you to know the inner workings as well as the potential future danger signs. So, hire a certified and experienced home inspection expert before you part with your hard-earned money.
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