What Precisely Does The Home Inspector Do?
I always describe what a Home inspection is with the analogy of getting physical at your family practice doctor. We are truly giving the home a physical from top to bottom. The inspection is performance-based, meaning if it functions regardless of how pretty or old it is then calling it deficient may not be appropriate. I list the areas inspected at from the roof, attic, ceiling, walls, foundation, electrical, plumbing, heat & air, door, windows, etc. All the things we can touch and inspect without getting exploratory, owners do get nervous when we start to take things apart. Some inspection panels may be removed.
I start my inspection by systemically going through the home, opening any blinds, and turning on all light fixtures and ceiling fans. This gives maximum illumination or an overall assessment of the condition of the home. I’ll then activate either the heater or the air conditioner after a visual assessment that the systems appear intact. Now I head back to the kitchen to get started. This allows me to start a cycle of the dishwasher, heat the oven, etc. because they take time. From there, I move into the dining room & living room, taking a step back to get an overall view in each room then proceed with the details. I am checking window operation, electrical outlets, ceiling fans, etc. At some point, I migrate into the bedrooms and baths in a similar manner. Usually, I move to the attic next. Two things I benefit from this sequence. I have already observed any structural issues and possible water leaks from the interior. I can then key on those areas in the attic. Living in Texas, attics are warm 11 months of the year, means the next logical step is a roof inspection to cool off. In the attic, I will inspect the visible framing members in the attic for signs of structural defects and prior repairs and insulation. I will also visually inspect the electrical system and inspect and operate the heating and cooling systems to provide my opinion on how they are performing. Our opinion is based on sound, flow, and temperature changes comparing the entry and exit temperatures at a random number of grills. If they are not found to be within a typical range additional investigation by a licensed HVAC contractor may be appropriate.
On the exterior of the property, I will visually inspect the roof, flashing, chimneys, gutters, and downspouts. Walking around the home, I inspect the siding or masonry veneer (brick or stone), trim, windows, doors, decks, walkways, and driveways. Drainage issues, retaining wall, and patios will be inspected as to any negative impact that they may pose on the building.
In addition to noting any visible defects, throughout the inspection, if the buyer is present, I will explain how the various systems of the home operate and give you information on how to maintain the home. It is a good idea to bring a pad of paper and any questions that you may have to the inspection so I can address your concerns during the on-site walk-through. After the inspection is complete, I will produce a written report that describes the systems and components of the home and reports the defects and repairs that were noted during the inspection. The inspection report usage and format is mandated by the state and provided as a PDF. There may be areas in the report that will not apply to your home, and some defects that you may think would be “grandfathered.” Life safety items, i.e., GFCI receptacles, safety glass, and smoke alarms, may not have even been invented when your home was built, but it is required to identify these safety-related items if they are not present or functioning. It really wouldn’t make sense to imply that home without smoke alarms is as safe as one without, so I note it.