What is a Home Inspection?
A Home Inspection is a visual examination that documents the current condition of a home from the roof to the foundation. Before you make your final buying or selling decision, you should have the home inspected by a professional. An inspection can alert you to potential problems with a property and allow you to make an informed decision.
What a Home Inspection Should Cover
Home inspections will vary depending on the type of property you are purchasing. The following are the basic elements that a home inspector will check.
Structure. A home’s 'bones' impacts how the structure stands up to weather, gravity, and the earth. Structural components, including the foundation and the framing, should be inspected.
Exterior. The inspector should look at sidewalks, driveways, steps, windows, and doors. A home’s siding, trim, and surface drainage also are part of an exterior inspection.
Roofing. A well-maintained roof protects you from rain, snow, and other forces of nature. Take note of the roof’s age, conditions of flashing, draining systems, buckled shingles, loose gutters and downspouts, skylight, and chimneys.
Plumbing. Thoroughly examine the water supply and drain lines, water heater, and possibly the water softener. Drainage pumps and sump pumps also fall under this category. Poor water pressure, banging pipes, rust spots, or corrosion can indicate problems.
Electrical. Safe and functional electrical wiring is essential. Look for the condition of service entrance wires, service panels, breakers and fuses, and disconnects. Also take note of the number of outlets in each room.
Heating. The home’s heating system, vent system, flues, and chimneys should be inspected. Look for the age of the heating system, whether the size is adequate for the house, and its energy rating.
Fireplaces. They’re charming, but they could be dangerous if not properly installed. Inspectors should examine the entire system, however a chimney sweep may be needed to fully inspect the vent and flue. Other gas burning appliances can also be inspected at this time.
Air Conditioning. Your inspector should describe your home cooling system and inspect the central and through-wall cooling equipment. Consideration for the age and energy rating of the system should be noted.
Ventilation/insulation. To prevent energy loss, check for adequate insulation and ventilation in the attic and in unfinished areas such as crawlspaces. Also look for proper, secured insulation in walls. Insulation should be appropriate for the climate. Excess moisture in the home can lead to mold and water damage.
Interiors. An inspection of the inside of the home can reveal plumbing leaks, insect damage, rot, construction defects, and other issues.
Overall an inspector will take a close look at walls, ceilings and floors, steps, stairways, and railings, countertops and cabinets, garage doors and garage door systems, electrical outlets and switches, plumbing system and fixtures, the heating and cooling, and the roof and foundation. Keep in mind that an inspector can only inspect what they see, touch, and test.
Questions to Ask Home Inspectors
When setting up an inspection here are a few questions that should be asked.
1. Are you licensed in the State of Ohio? Senate Bill 255 created the Home Inspector Program, headed up by the Department of Commerce’s Division of Real Estate & Professional Licensing. This Bill requires that all home inspectors performing an inspection to be licensed.
2. Will your inspection meet recognized standards? Ask whether the inspection and the inspection report will meet state requirements and comply with a well-recognized standard of practice and code of ethics.
3. Do you belong to a professional home inspector association? There are many state and national associations for home inspectors that provide additional standards and training opportunities.
4. How much experience do you have? Ask how long inspectors have been in the profession and how many inspections they’ve completed. They should also be able to provide customer referrals on request. New inspectors also may be highly qualified, but they should describe their training and let you know whether they plan to work with a more experienced partner during your inspection.
5. How do you keep your expertise up to date? Inspectors’ commitment to continuing education is a good measure of their professionalism and service. Advanced knowledge is especially important in cases in which a home is older or includes unique elements requiring additional or updated training.
6. Do you focus on residential inspection? Make sure the inspector has training and experience in the unique discipline of home inspection, which is very different from inspecting commercial buildings or a construction site. If you are buying a unique property, such as a historic home, they may want to ask whether the inspector has experience with that type of property in particular.
7. How long will the inspection take? On average, an inspector working alone inspects a typical single-family house in two to three hours; anything significantly less may not be thorough. If you're purchasing a large property, you may want to ask whether additional inspectors will be brought in.
8. What’s the cost? Costs can vary dramatically, depending on your region, the size and age of the house, and the scope of services. The national average for single-family homes is about $340, but customers with large homes can expect to pay more. Customers should be wary of deals that seem too good to be true.
9. What type of inspection report do you provide? Ask to see samples to determine whether you will understand the inspector's reporting style. Also, most inspectors provide their full report within 24 to 48 hours of the inspection.
10. Will I be able to attend the inspection? The answer should be yes. A home inspection is a valuable educational opportunity for the buyer. An inspector's refusal to let the buyer attend should raise a red flag.
These 10 questions are a great way to interview and ensure that you feel comfortable with the service that will be provided. Additional inspections in lieu of a home inspection can include but are not limited to environmental hazards, wood destroying insect, mold, well and septic.