A home inspection is basically considered a non-invasive visual inspection. Non-invasive means that no damage is done to the home, such as, tearing apart walls to view the insulation. The inspection is done to see if there are any major issues that need to be resolved and to coach the home buyer about necessary maintenance.
What is usually done first is to look at the outside of the house at all of the pieces . Flashing, doors, windows, siding, trim, the chimney and the roof are checked to see if anything is missing, out of order or in need of maintenance at the time. Then attention is paid to that area inside of the house to look for any evidence of failure. Evidence of failure is just a fancy way to say work.
Essentially, most of the issues that is seen with houses is related to water. The main purpose of the outside of the house is to shed water or to move it away from the home. If something is not right on the outside then how does that affect the inside. A moisture meter, thermometer, and just plain old digging with a screwdriver will tell us a lot about the condition of the home. About 80% of the issues that arise in a home inspection are due to water.
On the other hand, about 20% of the issues are due to guys who think they are handy and who take on a job a little outside of their skill set! The inspector will go through the house and look for evidence of amateur work. If it is OK then the inspector will let the home buyer know and if not OK then it will be in the report. If it something that may be unsafe it will also appear in the report.
As the inspection occurs it is not just a matter of finding things right or wrong with the home but it is also to make recommendations such as to paint something, raise a railing, or put a cover on a junction box. It will go into the report and the home buyer can prioritize what they want to do with the recommendations.
A lot of pictures and notes are taken during the inspection to be put into the report. The report is designed to be two things for the home buyer. First, it is designed to help on the negotiations before the closing. Anything that needs to be addressed or corrected that was not readily seen in the initial observations can be negotiated and taken care of before the closing.
Second, the report serves as a resource for as long as the home is owned. A lot of general information is contained in the report. The process requires the inspector to inform the home buyer of such things as to where to turn off the water and the electricity, what kind of fuel to use in the house and what kind of maintenance is required,
If any issues are discovered they are made to stand out from the general information. Minor maintenance issues, major repairs and safety issues are pointed out in the report. Maintenance issues are things that need to be done on an ongoing process. Major repairs or suggestions for replacement will be included. Depending on the age of the home certain aspects that were considered safe at the time it was built may need to be upgraded for safety reasons.
Electrical connections, appliances, water pressure, windows, doors, and fireplaces are all checked to be in working condition. The basement is checked for moisture, the attic and crawl spaces for insulation, All of the pieces requiring plumbing, i.e., sinks, toilets, showers and bath tubs are checked to make sure that they drain properly.
The heating system and all of the mechanicals are checked to make sure that they function properly. In Connecticut, inspectors are required to remove the cover on the electrical panel and explain any issues that may be found with the wiring.
Even brand new houses can have issues so it is important for a home buyer to find a reputable home inspector to do the job. Like so many other other aspects of purchasing a home a good realtor can make the right recommendation for you!
For more information on Home Inspections check out the following
Top Home Inspection Issues to Avoid by Bill Gassett
How to Negotiate Home Repairs After a Home Inspection by Anita Clark
Top Reasons To Have A Home Inspection When Buying A Home by Kyle Hiscock
What can I expect from a home inspection? by Lynn Pineda
17 Questions to ask your home inspector by Megan Wild