Grading Spaces - Home Inspection and Performance Analysis
The Inspection Process Home Inspection Report


The Inspection Process


I look at many details on the exterior of the house including the overall condition of the siding, soffits, windows and doors. I will comment on the way rain water is controlled around the house by way of the gutters and downspouts and on the way the grading will (or won't) direct water away from the foundation. A common area for defects on a house is exterior decks. Often these are not well attached to the house so I look carefully at these and comment accordingly.


If the roof is safely accessible and not too steep, I will inspect it by walking on its surface. This allows me to look at the entire surface as well as gauge the soundness of the construction as I walk around. Flashings and penetrations such as chimneys and vent pipes are carefully looked at as these are common areas for leaks. If the roof is steep, I will inspect it from several locations from the ladder, looking up and along the roof for evidence of sagging or warping as well as any missing or damaged roof components.


The basement is the best place to look at the condition of the foundation assuming that it has not been converted to a living space. I look for cracks in the basement walls and if there are any signs of water intrusion and I will closely examine the condition of any posts and beams holding up the structure. The underside of the first floor can also be inspected, again, if it has not been covered with a ceiling. The quality of the carpentry in the floor area tells a lot about the care that was taken in building the house.


This is potentially the most dangerous aspect of a house so I pay careful attention to the condition and quality of installation of all visible electrical components. The requirements have changed a great deal over the decades in response to the increasing use of electrical devices and also in the ways that safety can be improved. In both old and new construction I look for a proper grounding system, properly installed and sized distribution panels (with a clearly lableld main disconnect), correctly wired outlets, propely functioning switches and a host of other clues as to the quality and safety of the system.


If the air temperature is below 65ºF, I do not operate the AC unit but I do look for obvious signs of physical damage or poor installation. In warmer weather I look for proper AC operation and normal temperature drop across the evaporator coil. The heating system is looked at for normal operation and also for any signs backdrafting (smoke stains on the furnace cabinet) and for improperly installed combustion vent systems. I do not dissassemble any components but will remove normal access panels and will report on the overall condition of the unit.


Much of the plumbing system in most homes is hidden behind walls and under floors. I look at whatever is visible and do my best to make an overall judgement about the system based on those parts I have seen and the fixtures that I operated. I am critical of systems that have been patched together using a variety of materials (quite common) and will report on amateurish work whenever I find it. I do not test septic systems or wells as these require a separate State license but I will comment on any obvious problems I see.


The amount of time I spend evaluating the appliances in a home varies from inspection to inspection. Sometimes the appliances are not being sold in the transaction or they are not even present. I do look at the hookups for the washer, dryer, dishwasher (if visible) whether I am inspecting the actual units or not. I will operate the cookstove, oven, vent hoods, integral microwave and any other appliance that is considered "built in" but I am only looking for proper operation, not evaluating performance.


The attic tells a lot about the condtion of a house and the quality of its construction. When I am in the attic I look at the way the framing memebers were cut and assembled, the condition of the sheathing as well as any signs of water intrusion especially around chimneys or pipes. If the roof is made from trusses I look to see that they have not been modified or are not damaged in any way. The amount of ventilation is also noted as is the amount of insulation and how well it was installed. Occasionally I find a home where there is no access to the attic space or only a portion is open. I will document this in the report.

Home Inspection Report

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