What Do Home Inspectors Look for?

Home inspections can make or break the sale of a home. Inspectors are trained to look for problems throughout the house and its structure, so potential buyers are aware of the home’s condition. So, what do home inspectors look for? The answer is more complex than you might think. Here’s what you can expect a home inspector to evaluate in your new home.

Exterior

A home’s exterior does more than make a strong first impression. It also keeps the house protected against intruders and the elements. Cracks, gaps, rot, and decay in the exterior walls can lead to severe problems like potential water damage. Before heading inside, a home inspector will take a close look at the outside of your new home and the surrounding area, including:

  • Grading
  • Coverings
  • Decks
  • Patios and patio covers
  • Sidewalks
  • Driveways
  • Doors and windows
  • Window trims
  • Gutters
  • Retaining walls
  • Fences and gates

Structure

A house can’t stand steady and firm without a strong foundation. Any cracks, damage, or gaps between walls and floors could be cause for concern. That’s why home inspectors spend a considerable amount of time examining a house’s structure by checking the following:

  • Foundation
  • Crawlspace
  • Footings and columns
  • Floors
  • Chimneys
  • Walls

While structural problems and foundation issues can occur in homes of any age, they’re more prevalent in older homes. As a home “settles” over time, cracks in drywall and concrete can compromise the structure’s integrity. No matter how old your new home is, a home inspection will verify if it’s on a solid foundation.

Roofing

A strong roof is necessary to protect the house beneath it from wind, water, debris, and other damaging factors. Replacing a roof is no small task and hardly something you’d want to undergo right after buying a new home. Instead of being surprised when your roof springs a leak, you can get some peace of mind from a thorough home inspection.

A roofing inspection takes a close look at factors like:

  • Structure
  • Coverings
  • Flashings
  • Skylights
  • Vent/stacks

The inspector will note signs of roofing problems like missing shingles, moisture in the ceiling, cracks or rust, and unevenness. A deteriorating roof can lead to extensive issues down the line, making this a vital part of a home inspection.

Interior

So far, we’ve covered the exterior aspects of a home inspection. But what do home inspectors look for once inside the home? Luckily, the interior portion of a home inspection is just as thorough as the outdoor portion. The inspector will take a close look at:

  • Ceilings
  • Stairs
  • Fireplaces
  • Smoke detectors
  • Walls and floors
  • Doors and windows

Electrical

An outdated, faulty, or poorly wired electrical system can spell danger for any home. Research shows that electrical malfunctions were responsible for 13 percent of US structural fires between 2015-2019. Since electrical fires are a serious concern, the home inspector will take great care to ensure everything is in optimal shape. This includes inspecting the following:

  • Grounding
  • Panels and sub-panels
  • Service entrance
  • Branch circuits
  • Outlets
  • Circuit integrity
  • GFCIs

HVAC

Your new home must stay comfortable no matter the weather outside, so a home inspector will examine the A/C and heating systems thoroughly. Some of the HVAC systems and components checked during a home inspection include:

  • Combustion system
  • A/C components
  • Supply and discharge lines
  • Ductwork and registers
  • Controls and thermostats
  • Venting

First, the inspector will take a moment to conduct a visual inspection of the air conditioner, furnace, and heat pump systems. Then, they’ll run the systems to ensure everything’s working as it should. Finally, the inspector will look for signs indicating dangerous gas or carbon monoxide leaks.

  • Rust around the unit
  • Leaks around the unit
  • Cracked or leaking ducts
  • Furnace flame that won’t light
  • Malfunctioning A/C or heating
  • Dirty air filters

Plumbing

What do home inspectors look for when they examine a home’s plumbing? First, inspectors are concerned with making sure there’s no damaged plumbing that could lead to water damage or mold. They’ll document any issues they find with plumbing systems, such as:

  • Fixtures and appliances
  • Main supply line
  • Distribution lines
  • Functional flow
  • Vents, traps, and drains

Insulation

With energy efficiency on everyone’s minds, you may wonder: What do home inspectors look for when it comes to evaluating insulation, and how can this impact the energy usage of a home? To get an accurate idea of how much or how little insulation your new home has, an inspector will take a look at the following:

  • Attic
  • Crawlspace
  • Ductwork
  • Air and vapor barriers
  • Floors and walls

Inspecting the attic is a significant part of this phase of the home inspection process. This is because the vast majority of heat loss in a home passes through the attic. Therefore, to keep energy bills low and home comfort high, a home inspector will ensure the attic and the house are adequately insulated.

Common Questions About Home Inspections

Is a Home Inspection Mandatory?

Generally, no. Some mortgages may require you to have an inspection, but they’re typically not required. While a buyer can choose to forgo an inspection, this is not recommended. Without an inspection, you won’t have a complete picture of the home’s condition. Any hidden problems or unwelcome surprises will be your responsibility.

Buying a home is likely the most significant investment you’ll ever make. So do your due diligence with a home inspection before you sign on the dotted line.

Who Pays for a Home Inspection?

Buyers are responsible for scheduling and paying for home inspections. The inspection aims to give the buyer vital information about the property they plan to purchase. The seller is only involved in the process if the buyer chooses to negotiate the costs of any repairs uncovered by the inspection.

How Long Does the Inspection Take?

This depends on the size, condition, and characteristics of the home. The average single-family home inspection takes between 2-4 hours to complete. Usually, you’ll receive your inspection report within 24-48 hours after the inspection.

Should the Buyer Attend the Inspection?

Attending the home inspection is a great way to get an up-close and personal look at the inner workings of your new home. Many inspectors are more than willing to talk with you during the process and show you their findings firsthand. This is also a prime opportunity to get any of your questions about the systems in your new home answered.

What Happens if the Inspection Finds Problems?

It’s virtually guaranteed that the home inspector will find various problems and issues. After all, it’s their job to leave no stone unturned in order to provide a full and complete assessment of the home. Many of their findings will be minor cases of wear and tear or other easily fixable issues. However, if the inspector finds anything significant, they’ll bring it to your attention when you receive their report.

Who Pays for Repairs?

Taking care of minor repairs and problems usually falls on the new homeowner. However, if the home has significant damage, you may be able to ask the seller to cover the cost or negotiate a discount on the price of the house.

What’s the Difference Between a Home Inspection and a Home Appraisal?

An appraisal is not a substitute for a home inspection. Mortgage lenders use home appraisals to verify that your home is worth the amount they’re lending you. You can think of a home appraisal as an estimate that tells you how much your home and property are worth.

While both home inspectors and appraisers evaluate the home’s condition, an appraiser isn’t as concerned with the nitty-gritty details. Instead, an appraiser only evaluates the home’s square footage, features, and general condition of the home.

How Can I Find a Good Home Inspector?

Your real estate agent is a good source for inspectors’ recommendations in your area. You can also search the American Society of Home Inspectors or the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors. Both organizations only recommend quality inspectors, so you’ll know that you’re looking at the best of the best.  If any of your friends and family own homes nearby, you can ask them to point you in the direction of the inspection company they used as well.

The Benefits of Frontline Home Inspections

With so many inspection companies around, why choose Frontline Home inspections? The answer comes down to our superior service and dedication to quality results. You can count on us to use our expertise to provide a detailed report on the condition of your new home.

From the start of the inspection to the end, the Frontline Inspections experience is second to none. We go above and beyond industry standards with a unique thermal infrared scan that detects problems invisible to the naked eye. You can trust our inspectors to find issues both big and small!

The home buying process is often long, but reaching the inspection phase means the end is in sight. Now that you know the answer to the common question “what do home inspectors look for,” you’ll be better prepared for your home’s inspection. For expert home inspections in Central Florida, contact Frontline inspections today!