What Exactly Gets Inspected in a Home Inspection?

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The real estate and mortgage industry has faced some tough times lately and one of the results of the even more stringent procedures in place is the strong preference for a home inspection to take place prior to obtaining financing.  Though not a requirement, getting a home inspection is a practice that can and does save buyers (and sellers) thousands of dollars.  But what can you expect from a home inspection these days?

To help guide you through the process, here is a list of basic areas of the home that are included in the inspection, as well as the potential defective aspects that an inspector looks for during the process. We also provide a list of those areas that do not come under the home inspection umbrella.

What All Is Included in a Typical Home Inspection?
Assessment of Exterior – includes grading and elevation of the home, drainage, driveway and walkways, fences, siding, trims, doors and windows, exterior lighting and landscaping.

Structural Aspects of the Home – Walls, floors and ceiling are evaluated in addition to the foundation.  The inspection also includes a detailed assessment of the roof and attic, including ventilation, construction and framing.

Systemic Operational Elements – HVAC, heating and cooling systems, water heaters, ductwork, fireplace and chimney function is checked as well as outdoor sprinkler systems.

Functional Major Appliances – All major appliances that are included in the sale of the home such as refrigerators, stoves, microwaves and dishwasher as well as smaller items like the garbage disposal system are checked by the inspector.

Electrical Systems – Wiring, grounding, receptacles, exhaust systems, circuit breakers and the main panel are studied in sufficient detail to confirm whether the home is up to code.

Plumbing – All areas of the home that involve plumbing are checked, including bathroom and kitchen sinks, toilets, tubs and showers plus faucets as well as the evaluation of materials used in the plumbing construction of the home.

Safety Assessment – Smoke detectors, CO detectors and fire extinguishers are also checked for function and adequate placement.

Garage Structure – A detailed evaluation of the garage door and opener, firewall, walls and ceilings, lights as well as exterior is completed.

Results That Indicate Potential Concerns With the Home
A home inspection yields a detailed inspection report that is broken down by section/type of evaluation performed. While there are some areas that are not covered under a home inspection, others are resultant of major red flags that must be addressed by the seller.  Anything that indicates potential safety issues is reported as top priority on the inspection report and similarly anything that appears to be a possible health concern is reported.  Another thing to look for is inadequate results or concerns with the furnace or air conditioning systems.  The presence of excess moisture or problems with drainage is a big indicator that the home will need major repairs soon if not immediately. Two more expensive problem areas that can be revealed during an inspection are roofs that may not be able to withstand the elements much longer and faulty foundations.

Things Not Included in a Home Inspection That Must Be Evaluated Independently

Oftentimes a home can be found to have major problems in areas that are not reviewed within a typical home inspection.  If there is an indication or possibility that one or more of the following health, safety or structural hazards may exist it is strongly recommended that the prospective buyer seek specialized inspections in each respective area. 
The potential of asbestos, mold and mildew presence, insect or other pests, chemical assessment for the presence of radon, radiation or lead – all are issues that require independent evaluation by their respective experts in the field.  To learn more, here is a link to the top ten areas not covered in a home inspection.


Before getting a home inspection done on a home you are considering, check with your Realtor to find a preferred inspector that they may have worked with for years.  Using a quality inspector that is certified in the areas being inspected versus utilizing the services of a less-than-qualified inspector – can make a difference of thousands of dollars.  Once you have the inspection report in hand it is a good idea to consult with your Realtor again to see whether there is some leverage to be gained when negotiating the sale on your property.

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