Written by Jann Seal
One of the common contingencies to real estate purchase agreements is a home inspection. Hired by the buyer, an inspector examines the house thoroughly for non-functioning systems, damages, and repairs that may be needed. His detailed report forms the basis for continuing with the purchase, renegotiating the sale price, allowing the seller to make repairs, or for pulling out of the sale. A home inspection is recommended on purchases of new construction as well as re-sales and is a critical component of an escrow timeline.
A home inspector climbs onto the roof, pokes at the foundation, and crawls into attic space looking for water condensation or penetration. On homes in hurricane zones, he’ll examine roof trusses to be sure they’re connected to the frame as per code. Walls are examined for leakage or mold. Floor cracks are noted, as is separation from the baseboards. The ceilings, especially around electrical fixtures, must be clear of any signs of water leakage.
Close inspection of the exterior may reveal where additional caulking is needed to prevent water seepage. Broken seals on glass, deteriorating tread steps, decking and settlement cracks are a few of the items that require professional repair. Even the garage door is tested whether it’s electronic or manual.
The roof is examined closely for loose shingles or tiles, and the flashing is tested for tightness. Tree limbs touching the house provide a passageway for rodents and also can threaten the house during violent storms. Gutter debris is noted, and all drains are tested for a tight connection to the house. Skylights and chimneys also are examined for proper sealants.
All piping is tested, including drains, vents and waste systems. Water ingress and egress is examined, as are the interior fuel and water distributors and the sump pump, if present. All drains are examined for signs of leakage, mineral deposits and the fitting of proper filtering apparatus. Inspectors may test the water for bacteria.
All the electrical components are examined to ensure they fit and are operating safely. Conductors, grounding equipment and distribution panels are tested for efficient operation. The location of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors also is noted in the inspection report.
The entire heating and air conditioning system is tested to verify it’s in working condition, and the appropriate filters are examined for accumulation. Supply pipes are examined for corrosion. Chimneys must be clear of bird nests, and the chimney frame, whether it’s brick or made of other components, is to be sound.
Attic crawl space insulation and vapour retarders are noted on the inspection report. All venting fans that aren’t working also are included. Under-floor insulation, if accessible through the basement, also is examined for deterioration.
Doors, floors, stairways, counters, cabinetry, and the number of windows are all cited on the inspection report along with notes on any items that don’t function as they should. This also includes testing of all interior appliances that are built-in or included in the purchase contract.