Top 3 Things Inspectors Look For

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on what inspectors prioritize during home inspections! Whether you're buying a new home or just curious about the process, understanding these key areas can help you appreciate the thoroughness of a professional inspection. Let's dive into the vital elements that ensure a property is safe, secure, and a sound investment.

Structural Integrity

Structural Integrity

Foundation and Roof Examination

The foundation and roof are fundamental to a home's durability. Inspectors typically start by checking the foundation for any signs of cracking or uneven settling, which could indicate serious underlying issues. According to industry standards, the foundation should also have proper drainage systems to avoid water damage. Moving to the roof, inspectors look for a minimum of two years of expected life remaining, assessing for missing shingles, signs of leaking, or any deterioration that could compromise the home's integrity.

Walls and Ceilings Check

Walls and ceilings are next on the inspection list, where professionals look for any signs of structural damage such as cracks or water stains. These checks are crucial for determining the overall health of a property, ensuring that there are no hidden problems that could lead to bigger issues later on. Inspectors use tools like moisture meters to detect unseen issues behind walls, providing a more comprehensive evaluation of the property's condition.

System Functionality

System Functionality

Heating and Cooling Systems

Functional heating and cooling systems are essential for comfort and safety. Inspectors verify that the heating system can maintain a minimum temperature of 50°F in all areas with plumbing to prevent pipe freezing during colder months. In warmer climates, while permanent heating systems might not be mandatory, the existing systems must be operational if installed. Cooling systems, though not required everywhere, must also be in working order if present.

Electrical and Plumbing Systems

The electrical and plumbing systems of a home are thoroughly tested to ensure they meet local safety standards. Inspectors check that all wiring is up to code, circuit breakers are in good condition, and there are no immediate risks of electrical faults. For plumbing, they look for leaks, proper water pressure, and functioning fixtures to ensure everything is running smoothly and efficiently.

Safety Compliance

Safety Compliance

Safety Hazards

Safety is a top priority in any home inspection. Inspectors ensure that essential safety features like carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms are installed and functioning correctly. They also check stairways for secure handrails and proper illumination. These elements are vital for preventing accidents and ensuring that the home adheres to safety regulations.

Environmental Safety

Inspectors look for environmental safety issues, such as radon levels and the presence of lead-based paint. Radon is a naturally occurring gas that can seep into homes from the ground and is tested using specialized equipment. Lead-based paint, commonly found in homes built before 1978, must be properly sealed or removed to ensure safety. Inspectors will note these issues and recommend remediation if necessary.

Additional Inspection Areas

Additional Inspection Areas

Attics and Basements

Attics and basements are critical areas that inspectors carefully examine. In the attic, they look for proper ventilation, insulation, and signs of water damage or pests. Proper insulation in the attic can save homeowners up to 15% on heating and cooling costs annually (U.S. Department of Energy). Basements are checked for moisture, structural integrity, and adequate ventilation, ensuring that these areas are safe and habitable.

Crawl Spaces

Inspectors also inspect crawl spaces for adequate ventilation and moisture control. They ensure that the area is free from excessive dampness and that the foundation is stable. Proper maintenance of crawl spaces can prevent mold growth and structural damage, making this an essential part of the inspection process.

Interior Evaluation

Interior Evaluation

Kitchens and Bathrooms

In the interior evaluation, kitchens and bathrooms receive significant attention. Inspectors check that all major appliances in the kitchen are operational and up to code. In bathrooms, they ensure that sinks, toilets, showers, and bathtubs are functioning correctly and that there are no leaks or water damage. Properly functioning kitchen and bathroom fixtures not only ensure safety but also contribute to the overall value of the home.

Doors and Windows

Doors and windows are inspected for proper operation and energy efficiency. Inspectors check that windows open and close smoothly, lock securely, and provide adequate insulation. Energy-efficient windows can significantly reduce heating and cooling costs, making them a valuable feature in any home. Inspectors also ensure that doors are properly aligned, secure, and in good condition.

Exterior Evaluation

Exterior Evaluation

Property Drainage and Landscaping

Proper drainage and landscaping are crucial for preventing water damage and maintaining the overall health of the property. Inspectors check that the property is graded correctly to direct water away from the foundation. They also look for well-maintained landscaping that doesn't interfere with the structure of the home. According to the American Society of Home Inspectors, good drainage can prevent costly repairs down the line and improve the longevity of a home's foundation.

External Structures

In addition to the main building, inspectors also examine external structures like garages, sheds, and decks. They check for structural integrity, proper permits, and adherence to local building codes. For instance, a well-maintained deck can add significant value to a home, with a return on investment of up to 75% according to the National Association of Realtors.

Modern Home Considerations

Modern Home Considerations

Smart Home Features

With the rise of smart home technology, inspectors now also evaluate these features to ensure they are correctly installed and functional. This includes smart thermostats, security systems, and automated lighting. A study by Coldwell Banker Real Estate found that homes with smart technology sell faster and for more money, highlighting the growing importance of these features.

Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency is a significant consideration for modern homes. Inspectors check for proper insulation, energy-efficient windows, and the presence of energy-saving appliances. The U.S. Department of Energy reports that energy-efficient upgrades can save homeowners up to 30% on their energy bills annually, making these features highly desirable.

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