As any homeowner will tell you, home inspections are critical. But you may be asking yourself, what do home inspectors check. Whether you are a seller or a buyer, it’s important to understand what home inspectors check – and what they don’t.
What Do Home Inspectors Check?
An experienced home inspector will conduct a thorough visual inspection of your property, addressing all its main systems. Believe it or not, there are actually 1,600 different items singled out by the National Association of Home Inspectors. We obviously aren’t going to cover all of them here, but a properly completed home inspection report will cover all of the following elements:
- Structural components, including foundation and framing
- Roof system, including shingles, skylights and flashing
- Electrical system, including breakers, fuses and service panels
- Exterior features, including porches, balconies, soffits, siding, walkways and driveways
- Interior features including all walls, windows, ceilings, floors, stairs, doors and railings
- Heating and cooling systems, including all equipment, venting, and energy sources
- Plumbing systems, including all pipes, drains, water heaters and/or sump pumps
- Ventilation and insulation, including attics, basements and unfinished areas
- Fireplaces, including all vents and chimneys
Most state laws require all home inspectors to provide clients two documents at the completion of their work: a written home inspector contract (pre-inspection agreement) and a written inspection report.
The Pre-inspection Agreement
The pre-inspection agreement should detail the scope of the inspection services to be performed, along with the cost of these services. Make sure to get a copy of the pre-inspection contract ahead of time and read it thoroughly. If there are any details you don’t understand, ask the inspector to clarify them prior to the start of the inspection.
The Home Inspection Report
Licensed home inspectors are required to provide clients with written reports for each home inspection. To be delivered no more than a week after the inspection has been completed, these reports can be up to 50 pages in length. They present detailed information on the subject property, often including photos, and are intended to clearly identify all elements and components that have been evaluated by the inspector.
How To Prepare For The Inspector
It’s wise to mention any concerns you may have about the property to the inspector before the work begins. That way he’ll know to watch for problems in that area. Likewise, if the seller has provided any information about damage to the property, however minor, make sure to let your inspector know.
One last word to the wise: if it’s possible to accompany the inspector during his rounds, by all means do so. As a home buyer, you’ll want to know everything about the property, good and bad. A good inspector can show you things about a property that you might never learn otherwise, so don’t waste this valuable opportunity.
For more information on What Do Home Inspectors Check, a look at the InterNachi Standards of Practice may clarify what to expect.