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Top 10 Things to Look For During a Home Inspection

By Jay Watkins

Here is a list of the top ten things an inspector should look for when performing an inspection.Home inspections are a vital and necessary part of the home buying process.

A good inspector will know exactly what to look for as well as what should and should not be noted. Most inspectors will use a checklist and only note damages greater than $500.

1.    Moisture in the crawl-space or basement.

is the most detrimental element to your home. The slightest leak cause major problems. The home inspector should spend a great deal of time in the crawl-space or basement checking for moisture problems. Moisture in a crawl-space or basement is usually caused by high humidity, improper drainage from down-spouts, or plumbing leaks. Some visible signs to look for are standing water, damp crawl-space floor, water stains on masonry, or sagging or wet insulation. 

2.    Proper drainage.

Proper drainage from down-spouts and runoff from the yard are crucial in combating water problems in a crawl-space or basement. Thousands of dollars may be saved in waterproofing costs by simply making a few adjustments. The home inspector will check to be sure each down-spout from the gutter system actually drains rainwater away from the foundation. They should also check to be sure the gutters are not clogged. The area around the foundation of the home should also be checked for signs of improper water runoff. Some signs to look for include piles of leaves and debris and wet or dry puddles near the foundation.

3.    Signs of pest damage.

Pests such as termites and wood-boring beetles can wreak havoc on your home. An inspector will look for visible signs of damage as well as active colonies of termites. Termite treatments are very expensive and some wood-boring beetle's infestations require fumigation to get rid of them. The inspector should note inactive or old colony signs as well as signs of previous treatments.

4.    Properly flashed chimneys and valleys.

Properly functioning flashing is required to ensure water isn't allowed to enter your home and that the water is directed off the roof and into the gutter system. Every valley and chimney should be properly sealed with a flashing system. The inspector will inspect the flashing to make sure it is sound, rust free, properly fastened, and sealed.

5.    Properly working gutters and downspouts.

Gutters should be checked to make sure they are not clogged and that they are angled so that water flows freely to the down-spout openings. They should be securely fastened to the fascia without holes and rust. An inspector should also make sure down-spouts are properly secured to the house and that runoff is directed away from the foundation. 

6.    Proper attic ventilation.

Attic ventilation is the key to extended shingle wear. Heat build up in the attic literally cooks the shingles from the underside causing blistering and cracking of the shingles. An inspector should check to make sure there is proper cross ventilation and that electric or wind driven vents are working properly. They should also make sure ridge vents are properly installed and adequate sheeting was removed for proper ventilation.

7.    Plumbing leaks.

The plumbing system should be checked for leaks at every appliance, sink, toilet, and tub. It should be noted if signs of previous leaks are detected as well as signs of mildew damage. The crawl-space piping should also be checked as well. 

8.    Electrical service.

The electrical system should be checked to ensure proper building code was followed. The inspector should check each circuit fault interrupter manually as well as each fuse or breaker switch. He should be sure there are no bare wires and that each appliance has its own breaker or fuse and that it is the proper size for the appliance.

9.    Foundation settling.

Foundation settling is a big problem in many parts of the country. While it's true that every house settles, too much settling can be dangerous as well as expensive. The inspector should look for signs of cracking on the foundation from the inside as well as the outside. He should also look for signs of chimneys that are detaching from the house. A thorough inspection of the inside of the house for signs should also be done. Cracks in sheetrock or plaster above doorways and doors that don't close properly are sign that the house is or has settled.

10.    Caulking.

Proper caulking on the outside of the house as well as the inside around tubs and sinks is essential to ensure water does not cause damage. An inspector should check the outside of the home to make sure caulking is properly applied and not cracking. The same holds true for the inside as well.


For more detailed information, check out our comprehensive Buyers Guide Ebook