- Is home inspection your only business?
Make certain it is! That’s the only way to avoid any potential conflicts of interest. Many independent inspectors only work on a part-time basis to supplement their real businesses as contractors, roofers, etc., and their report findings might be suspect. Plus, you can find a good inspector by getting a referral from a satisfied customer. Avoid referrals from anyone who has a financial interest in the sale going through. When considering a particular inspector, ask for at least three references and check them out.
- Do they carry all the necessary insurance, including professional liability (Errors & Omissions or “E&O”), general liability, and worker’s compensation,
and are they bonded?
Make sure they have Errors and Omissions Insurance. “This malpractice-type insurance protects the inspector (and indirectly the home buyer and those referring the inspector) against post-inspection legal problems.” General liability covers personal liability not covered by the basic Errors and Omissions policy; and worker’s compensation covers the safety of the inspector during the inspection.
- How long does the inspection take, can I accompany the inspector, what type of equipment do they use
and are the updated plus knowledgeable in the inspection business?
A professional inspection of the average house takes about two to three hours. Be skeptical of home inspectors who don’t want you to tag along. Inspectors who invite the home buyer along will often offer valuable maintenance tips.
A good inspector will have the most updated equipment available to him or her and to be proficient in its use.
- What type of a report will I receive and when will I receive it?
There are various types of reports given by professional inspectors, including typed narrative (sent to the home buyer within a week) and on the spot written reports for those who need or want the information as soon as possible.
Don’t accept a verbal report without a written backup, since you will have no record of the inspector’s findings for future referral.
Home Inspectors should use a format, which is filled out on the spot and is presented to the client at the time of the inspection plus, they should explain it.
- Is the inspector trained or certified in home inspection by a recognizable organization, such as the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI), or the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), or California Real Estate Inspection Association (CREIA)?
With no official government regulation of the home inspection industry, certification by one of these organizations ensures that the inspector meets strict guidelines set forth by the largest and most reputable home inspection organizations in the country.
Things to be aware of while Inspecting a Home
1. Siding: Look for cracks, loose pieces, lifting, or warping.
2. Paint: Look for peeling, chipping, blistering, stains, and any indication of damage.
3. Foundation and exterior surfaces: Check for cracks and holes, areas not level or uneven, loose or missing stucco or mortar.
4. Porch or entrance area: Examine steps, handrails, posts, and look for loose or unsafe features.
5. Roof: Look for worn or bald spots, any missing shingles or tiles; determine age.
6. Chimney: Look for tilting, cracks, and any missing bricks or mortar.
7. Gutters and downspouts: Check for signs of leaks, rusting, and condition of joints.
8. Windows and screens: Look for broken glass or screens, crank handles, if any; check for proper caulking.
9. Walls and fences: Look for holes and any missing fencing or rotted posts.
10. Driveways and sidewalks: Check surface condition and look for holes or cracks; check for levelness.
11. Proper drainage: Water from rain should flow away from property.
12. Lot and landscaping: Check condition of grass, shrubbery, plants, and trees. Check root condition of especially large trees close to any buildings.
Things to consider on the interior of the property
- General plan: The traffic pattern and layout of rooms is important. Observe the general condition with respect to maintenance and repair.
- Living/dining/family room areas: Size and design should be large enough for particular requirements and conveniently located. Any fireplace should have a damper that works and a clean chimney.
- Bedrooms: Number should be adequate for present and future uses, with each having an outside window, proper closet space, and entry off a hallway.
- Bathrooms: An adequate number of bathrooms is very important and every floor should have a bathroom facility. Check for cracks in tiles, signs of leaks, how long it takes to get hot water, and proper ventilation.
- Kitchen: Check appliances such as stove, refrigerator, disposal, dishwasher, and microwave for age, and inquire about present age, condition, and any warranties in effect. Check amount of shelf and counter space, electrical outlets, and storage areas. If a separate breakfast room is not available, there should be adequate space for a kitchen eating area.
- Walls and ceilings: Look for major cracks, loose or falling plaster, and any signs of leaks or stains.
- Windows and doors: Check to see that windows and doors have adequate locks and open and close properly.
- Floors: Walk and jump lightly on floors to determine any movement; check for levelness or bowing.
- Stairs: Check for any loose treads or handrails.
- Basement: If applicable, basement area should be checked for signs of water leaking, dampness, flooding, dry rot, termites, and for adequate lighting.
- Attic: If applicable, the attic should be checked for signs of leaks and any rodent or insect infestation, and if insulated, check type and quantity.
- Plumbing system: Check type of water pipes and sewer lines, that can be seen, look for rusting or leaking; turn on faucets to test water pressure; look for clogged or sluggish drains or dripping faucets.
- · Electrical system: Check load center and observe if there are fuses or circuit breakers; check age and look for signs of wear or exposed wires.
- · Heating system: Check the type of heating system such as warm air, hot water, or electrical, and determine age and condition. Check for gas leaks and cracked heat exchanger.
- · Water heater: Check for signs of leaking or rusting. Determine capacity and recovery rate, age, and condition.
- · Air conditioning or cooling system: If applicable, check type of air conditioning or cooling system, age, condition, freon, and leaks.
Ten Most Frequent House Problems
Surveys by U.S. home inspectors resulted in a list of the most frequently found problems in the homes they have inspected:
1. Improper Surface Grading/Drainage
This was by far the most frequently found problem, reported by 35.8% of the survey respondents. It is responsible for the most common of household maladies: water penetration of the basement or crawl space.
2. Improper Electrical Wiring
A significant number (19.9%) chose this item as the most common home defect, which includes such situations as insufficient electrical service to the house, inadequate overload protection, and amateur, often dangerous, wiring connections.
3. Roof Damage
Although reported by only 8.5% of the respondents as the most common problem, roof leakage, caused by old or damaged shingles or improper flashing, was considered by CAHPI members to be a frequent problem.
4. Heating Systems
Problems in this category include broken or malfunctioning operation controls, blocked chimneys, and unsafe exhaust disposal.
5. Poor Overall Maintenance
Even the novice home buyer is usually aware of this situation, demonstrated by such signs as cracked, peeling, or dirty painted surfaces, crumbling masonry, makeshift wiring or plumbing, and broken fixtures or appliances.
6. Structurally Related Problems
Many houses, as a result of problems in one or more of the other categories, sustain damage to such structural components as foundation walls, floor joists, rafters, and window and door headers.
Though never ranked by the respondents as a Number One problem, plumbing defects still rank high among the house problems encountered, and include the existence of old or incompatible piping materials, as well as faulty fixtures and waste lines.
Flaws in a home’s exterior, including windows, doors, and wall surfaces, are responsible for the discomfort of water and air penetration, but rarely have structural significance. Inadequate caulking and/or weather-stripping are the most common culprits.
9. Poor Ventilation
Perhaps due to overly ambitious efforts to save energy, many home owners have “over-sealed” their homes, resulting in excessive interior moisture. This can cause rotting and premature failure of both structural and non-structural elements.
This category includes primarily interior components, often cosmetic in nature, which were not found frequently enough to rank individually in our survey.
For inspection services in the Sacramento and Bay Area please contact Golden State Home Inspections at 800.441.0804 or visit: http://www.goldenstatehomeinspections.com