A home inspection may serve as a home’s “report card”, but homes don’t actually pass or fail home inspections even if they may be viewed in such ways. Rather, home inspections highlight areas of major concern that should be repaired.
Home inspections are typically conducted prior to the sale of a home, however, can be done during other times. For example, a home inspection may be required by your homeowner’s insurance company to validate your home’s “insurability” or may be elected when a beneficiary inherits a home. They are also great for investors to routinely check on the homes they rent out.
What Your Home Inspection Should Review
A home inspection is conducted by a certified home inspector—someone with the proper training and education to hone the skills needed to identify key areas of concern throughout a home. During a home inspection, a home inspector will look over the full physical structure of the home as well as major systems critical to the safety and function of the house. Home inspections include a thorough review of the following areas:
- Electrical system
- Plumbing system
- Heating and cooling systems
- Radon detection (if applicable)
- Walls, ceiling, and flooring of all interior rooms
- Windows and doors
- External walls
- External structures
- Basement, Crawlspace, and/or Attic
What A Home Inspector Looks For
While conducting the home inspection and reviewing each of the above areas in turn, the home inspector is looking for several things:
- Visual: Are the walls dented, is the flooring coming up, is there discoloration on the ceiling? Are their visible signs of rust, water damage, mold, or other concern? Can cracks in the foundations be seen?
- Smells: Does any room or crawlspace smell of mildew or mold? (if so, an additional inspection to investigate deeper may be recommended—or requested by the home buyer)
- Moisture: Basements, crawlspaces, and attics are usually stuffy but indicators of high levels of moisture can be a telltale sign of mold and a major concern for homeowner and buyer alike.
- Signs of Damage: Areas of the home are assessed for signs of current and even previous damage.
- Roof/Chimney: These areas are checked to ensure shingles are not missing, no leaks are present, incorrectly repaired damage, and that all seals are watertight. Home inspections also verify if the chimney is functionable.
- Plumbing: Obvious signs of plumbing issues are inspected for—is the plumbing material used up to code? Are there leaks? Were repairs done correctly? Is the water temperature correct and the pressure adequate? Is the water heater expired or showing signs of excessive wear?
- Electrical: The wires running through the home should have been properly installed and, sometimes, as homes age and building code regulations change, home inspections identify when electrical systems are no longer up to par.
- HVAC & Appliances: each are reviewed in turn to ensure they work properly, don’t leak or make unusual sounds, and are efficient for the usage demanded by the home.
A home inspection serves as reviewing a home with a fine-tooth comb to identify problematic areas. If selling your home, you can conduct necessary repairs to prevent buyers from being scared off or use it to accurately price your home for sale. While a home inspection may turn up major repair recommendation or could state the home is in great condition, the final report is not labeled as a pass or fail but is simply an analysis of the condition of the home and a list of recommendations to make corrective action where necessary.