Truth About Home Inspections: Homes Can't Actually Fail

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
  • Roofing
  • Foundation
  • Basement, Crawlspace, and/or Attic
  • Insulation

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:

  1. 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?
  2. 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)
  3. 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.
  4. Signs of Damage: Areas of the home are assessed for signs of current and even previous damage.
  5. 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.
  6. 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?
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

Why Home Inspections Are Important

Home buyers who are serious about a potential home purchase should seriously consider a pre-purchase home inspection.  These inspections are designed to protect the consumer by providing a valuable look at the vital working operations and structural concerns of the home they hope to buy.  Particularly if the home is older, having a Tampa certified home inspector go over the 350 to 400 areas that all reputable home inspection companies address could uncover unwanted defects, expose faulty systems, or call attention to areas where damage can begin to materialize.

For example, water leakage could result in mold or other significant damage to the home’s structure. Often, consumers will have a home inspected for termite or mold presence too. If so, these inspections will cost a little more than just having a basic home inspection performed. In addition, the size of the home has a lot to do with the final cost of having an inspection. 

Whatever the cost, having certified inspectors come and examine the details of the house is key to getting consumers the appropriate information they need. But the real importance of having a home inspected before you buy it is this: before someone becomes serious about purchasing a house, they need to know of any defects that exist within the structure and learn of any electrical or appliance problems they may need to address.  Investing in a new or used home is a major deal.  You need to know exactly what you’re getting into.  And by arranging for a pre-purchase home inspection the consumer can rest assured he/she will be made aware of any situation within or around the home that will need attention.

Once someone looks over the inspector’s checklist he/she will instantly be reminded of how many items a home contains; so many details that need to be checked out.  There are driveways, patios, entrance landings, railings, yard conditions, doorframes, exterior finishes, roof conditions, and all these don’t amount to half of the items a complete home inspection must include. 

In short, all consumers owe it to themselves to have a certified expert -or team of inspectors -come out and pour over all these items and details.  Again, it is about getting an accurate picture of the house to the consumer so he or she can make the most informed decision possible. Finally, it goes without saying that insuring your home needs to be another reason why a pre-purchase inspection is necessary.  The insurance company offering homeowner’s insurance on your property will be very interested in the report the inspectors produce.  For all these reasons and more, it is generally a wise idea to go forward with a pre-purchase home inspection before any prospective buyer gets too deeply into the purchasing process.

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