Home inspections will vary depending on the type of property you are purchasing. A large historic home, for example, will require a more specialized home inspection than a small condominium. However, the following are the basic elements that a home inspection will include:
Structure: A home’s skeleton impacts how the property stands up to weather, gravity, and the earth. Structural components, including the foundation and the framing, should be inspected.
Exterior: The home inspection should include visuals of sidewalks, driveways, steps, windows, and doors. A home’s siding, trim, and surface drainage also are part of an exterior portion of the home 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, roof draining systems (pooling water), buckled shingles, loose gutters and downspouts, skylight, and chimneys. A whole house inspector is not a licensed roofer, so they do not move tiles to check valleys, ect. Only a visual. If any red flags are noted with the visual, they will simply "recommend" a licensed roofer inspect further.
Plumbing: Thoroughly examine the water supply and drainage systems, water heating equipment, and fuel storage systems. Drainage pumps and sump pumps also fall under this category. Poor water pressure, banging pipes, rust spots, or corrosion can indicate problems.
Electrical: Safe electrical wiring is essential. Home inspections should include 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 age of water heater, whether the size is adequate for the house, speed of recovery, and energy rating.
Air Conditioning: The home inspection should describe the home cooling system, its energy source, and inspect the central and through-wall cooling equipment. Consider the age and energy rating of the system.
Interiors: An inspection of the inside of the home can reveal plumbing leaks, construction defects, and other issues. The home inspection should include a look at walls, ceilings, floors, steps, stairways, railings, counter tops and cabinets, garage doors and garage door systems.
Ventilation/insulation: To prevent energy loss, home inspections check for adequate insulation and ventilation in the attic and in unfinished areas such as crawlspaces. Home inspections 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.
What a home inspection does not generally and actively inspect is wood destroying organisms like termites and dry rot. Certainly a whole house inspector does look out for those items if they are obvious, and the home inspection will surely call them out, but will say something like “see pest inspection report for further evaluation.” So, what is a pest inspection? What does a pest inspection cover?
Pest inspection involves a full inspection of your home for any evidence of termite activity and/or evidence of dry rot damage, or moisture conditions that could lead to an atmosphere for wood destroying organisms or termites. This means that a pest inspector would inspect the exterior of your home including all the trim, home siding, under roof eaves, ect. Pest Inspectors do a full inspection of the interior as well, especially checking for water leaks in the bathrooms, kitchen and laundry areas, windows, and inspecting the attic where applicable.
Home Buyers and Sellers are always surprised to find out that a pest inspection does not inspect for ants, spiders, ect. That is not its purpose. It is a home inspection that inspects wood. Helping make sure the structure is in tact and will remain in tact.
If any issues are found, a pest inspection will identify those items as a Section One item, or a Section Two item. Section One items are issues “currently” active and in need of immediate repair – like an active roof leak that has caused dry rot. Section Two items are not as urgent. Section Two issues are items that may possibly cause Section ONE issues in the future – like if dirt was up against the house above the foundation line. Once all the Section One issues are repaired, the pest inspector comes out to the property to re-inspect to confirm repairs are completed. Once confirmed, the pest inspector provides a “Pest Clearance” or a “Cleared Pest” or a “Termite Clearance.” Any of those terms would apply.
In a standard purchase transaction, it is common place for a Seller to pay for a pest inspection report, provide the report to the Buyers, and to also repair all Section One issues on the pest inspection report. Section Two issues are commonly left for the Buyer to manage as the new home owner after close of escrow. Now-a-days, however, with short sales and REO/bank owned properties becoming common place, Sellers do not provide a pest inspection report, nor make any pest repairs, on those particular transaction. Short Sales and REOs are normally sold “as is.” So, a Buyer has to make a decision on whether they want to purchase a pest inspection on their own, along with purchasing their whole house inspection, and any other inspection they choose.