Buying a new home can be exciting, adventurous, and an opportunity for an incredible new start. One of the most important parts of home-buying is making sure it’s safe for you and your family, no matter the season or the year. To make the process easier for you, we put together a list of items that should be on your Florida home inspection checklist.
What Should Be on a Home Inspection Checklist?
The 4-Point Florida Home Inspection
Some Florida home inspection businesses offer what’s called a 4-point inspection, which includes the HVAC, plumbing, electrical, and roof. It’s a great deal to get an overall feel for how the house is doing maintenance-wise before you jump into anything structurally related. After all, the last thing you want is the front door to be extremely stable but the bedroom electrical to be on the fritz.
HVAC, or heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, is a crucial part of any home. Depending on where you live, houses can be unsafe if you don’t have stable access to heating (or air conditioning). The Florida home inspection expert will look to make sure your vents are clear, the temperature gauges are working properly, and there isn’t any excess build-up of mold or mildew.
They will also consider the age, type, condition, and future life expectancy of the HVAC, meaning it can save you more money down the road. If the home doesn’t have integrated heating or air conditioning, the inspector will focus on ventilation.
Plumbing can mean a lot more than just what’s attached to your toilet. Sink drains, kitchen piping, and even equipment in the basement can be assessed. Another factor is whether the house is hooked up to the public sewer line or if the house has an underground septic tank. If there’s a septic tank, the inspector may bring in additional help to make sure the tank is not too old, not full, and isn’t a biohazard to the surrounding area.
Speaking of water, if the house has a pool, consider hiring an inspector to perform an advanced pool inspection. This can include checking the basin, decking, and the pump and filter. Here, they’ll be considering if the pool is crack-free, that there are no unpleasant odors from the water, if the stairs are safe, if there is evidence of leaking, if the pool slopes safely, and if the pump and filter have working motors and pressure gauges.
Having the electrical system checked in an old house can be one of the top priorities on a home inspection checklist. The inspector will check the breaker panel type, average amperage, the age of the wiring, what type of wiring (as different areas of the house use different types), branching circuitry (think kitchen), and any hazards that are obviously present during the actual inspection.
Though they will consider the overall condition of the entire electrical system, they are unlikely to check every single outlet in a bedroom or living room to make sure it’s working. Kitchens and bathrooms have a higher electrical-shock threat, so those will be tested.
Here, the inspector will determine the age of the sub-roof, when the last repair was done, the current condition, the life expectancy of the overall structure, any tiles/coverings, and skylights. The roof checklist is a little simpler, but it can also include items such as vent stacks/chimneys and gutter systems.
Just as important as everything mentioned above, this part of the home inspection checklist focuses on everyday structures that you may not think about as often, such as the attic and insulation, and the interior; walls, ceilings, floors, windows, and doors. These are things that we just expect to work!
Attic and Insulation
If the home has an attic or a crawlspace, the home inspector will need access to these areas, too. They’re checking to make sure there are no signs of animals, no holes in the walls or floors, that the beams are secure, and that the insulation is not torn apart or needs to be replaced. They’ll also consider any ductwork they find, and if the air and vapor barrier is intact and doing its job.
This includes if the walls are in good shape and are structurally sound, if the ceilings are sloping or have water damage; if the windows are cracked, broken, missing, or need to be replaced; if the floors are safe and stable; the condition of the stairs if applicable; and even the health of the fireplace and smoke detectors. All of this is to ensure that no corners were cut during either building or renovation.
Often the strongest elements of the house, this includes the foundation, basement, exterior, and structural components such as load-bearing beams and the overall frame. These can often be considered the most important items on your home inspection checklist because if one of these items fail, the whole house can come down.
Foundation and Basement
If the house has a basement, the inspector will check everything previously listed (electrical, plumbing, interior), as well as make sure the foundation walls and floor are not cracked or in need of repairs. They will also check the main supports of the house, any load-bearing beams, and look for signs of animals or mold damage. If this is where the hot water tank is located, they’ll also test and determine its age.
Make sure to keep in mind that the inspectors only find the problems, they do not solve them. The checklist is to ensure you have all the information before purchasing a property.
Exterior and Structure
Believe it or not, the exterior of the house does more than just look nice! There can be a lot of hidden problems outside the house if you don’t know where to look. A Florida home inspection expert will look at items such as the grading of the lawn, if the siding is attached and safe, the patio and deck conditions, the sidewalks and driveways, window trim and storm shutters (if applicable), retaining walls, and even fences and gates.
They’ll also look at the foundation from the outside to see if there are any obvious cracks or signs of wear. This also includes the chimneys and gutter systems (as mentioned above on the roof), and any additional outdoor crawlspaces the house may have. If there’s no basement but there’s storage under the house, they’ll do a quick sweep.
The exterior can often have a few more problems than the interior due to weather conditions or animals. That being said, an inspector is not obligated to perform any job they believe could put themselves in danger. For example, if there’s a family of raccoons living under the house in the crawlspace, the inspector will not be checking the crawlspace (though they will make note of the raccoons!).
Additional Buildings on the Property
If there are sheds or a detached garage, the inspector will also consider these when performing the exterior checklist. They’ll look for the same things they looked for above: windows, doors, ceilings, etc.
New Site Construction
Some home inspection agencies offer new construction inspections, meaning the inspector will make sure everything goes right at every step of the building process. A pre-pour foundation check ensures that there isn’t too much of a gradient and the supporting materials are good. A grading/site excavation establishes the correct structure location, street entrance clearance, and drainage for wet areas.
They’ll establish if the rough framing, plumbing, electrical, and HVAC of the house match the plans and the specs, along with whether it’s being built to code and that the correct materials are being used. Insulation will be monitored for maximum energy efficiency, whether drywall is sturdy and secure, if the interior and exterior finishes are what the plans specified, and much, much more.
Wind mitigation is often overlooked, but in locations like Florida, we all know hurricanes can do a lot of damage to your home. A wind mitigation inspection is an assessment that determines the property’s wind-resistant features, so you know the safety and sturdiness of your home in case of a disaster. This type of inspection can also help lower insurance costs. If the company knows your home is more likely to withstand a hurricane, they’ll often charge you less to insure it.
Inspections aren’t just for homes you’re buying for your family – they can also be for commercial buildings. These inspections offer a comprehensive look at the real estate so you have a better picture of what you’re buying. Similar to the above, the checklist includes the structure, roof, HVAC, electrical, and plumbing.
Buying a house should be a fun experience that makes you excited to go home every day, but before you put in that offer, make sure to have a licensed inspector take a look at everything from top to bottom. Call Frontline Inspections today, so we can make sure your house is safe and secure for you and your family.