My Standard Home Inspection Process
Below is a comprehensive list of the items that I inspect with every standard home inspection. My inspection is broken up into two phases, the on-site phase and the report writing phase.
The on-site phase is of course where the actual inspection occurs, but for me, it’s about data acquisition. I will thoroughly inspect each of the core systems of the home, looking for significant defects or high-risk purchase concerns. Once I complete the inspection, which averages 3 hours on an average size home, we will be ready to discuss my findings. How we conduct the summary review is left up to you. We can walk the property, I can give a quick verbal break-down, or we can do some combination of both. You decide based on your needs.
The report writing phase takes place back at my office. Writing your report, which will include custom comments, robust imagery, detailed diagrams, and helpful references and citations can take me up to 3 hours. Depending on the condition of the home and other outside forces, I will have the report complete and uploaded for you to view the same night as the inspection.
Below is a comprehensive list of the systems and components that will be inspected during the on-site portion of your inspection.
The foundation is a major system that has high-risk potential. I take my time with this portion of the inspection to ensure that I don’t overlook evidence of adverse movement.
Grading and Drainage
Grading and drainage is a critical sub-system that has a significant influence on the performance of your home’s foundation. During the inspection, I’ll look for major issues with lot drainage and I’ll also let you know if I see problems with the guttering system.
Roof Covering Materials
The roof is a major system that has high-risk potential. If the roof is nearing the end of its service life, or if there are issues with water penetration, shingle adhesion, flashing abnormalities or other related concerns, we both want to know.
Roof Structure and Attic
The roof structure and attic areas contain core structural support systems, as well as important energy efficiency components. If I find atypical framing practices, damaged or removed structural members, insufficient attic ventilation and insulation or other related issues, I will carefully document my findings for you.
Walls (interior and exterior)
I will examine the interior and exterior walls for signs of adverse structural movement, water penetration, and damaged components. Exterior walls are visually inspected for adverse performance issues, particularly at supporting members and common installation failures.
The interior is generally always obscured by wall coverings and paint. Insulation, plumbing, and electrical items behind these walls cannot be inspected. I will primarily focus on structural movement and installation deficiencies. Cosmetic items are not considered or annotated in the report unless they correlate to a more significant problem.
Ceilings and Floors
Examination of the ceilings and floors for structural integrity and water penetration is the primary focus of your inspector. Cosmetic items are not usually reported unless they appear to affect the previous two categories.
Doors (interior and exterior)
Exterior doors should be installed to provide weather tightness and reliable security. Weather tightness, locking mechanisms, glass panes, thresholds, and the overall condition of your doors are inspected. In addition, garage doors are inspected for fire safety compliance.
Interior doors provide privacy and noise reduction. They may also be an indicator of structural movement within the home. Interior doors should also allow for the adequate flow of conditioned air between passages. Interior doors are inspected for movement free of binding and proper latching. Mechanical hardware is also inspected.
Your home’s windows provide many passive features ranging from aesthetic value to emergency egress. Composed of varying materials and methods of operation, your home’s windows are an important component of the overall building system. Once fully installed it is not possible to determine proper flashing details and framing practices. Therefore, your inspector will rely on visual indicators to assist in determining the performance of your home’s windows. Your inspector will be observing for deficiencies in the glazing, weather-stripping, safety glass locations, emergency egress compliance, and the condition of the hardware and operability.
Stairways (interior and exterior)
Evolving building standards have been established in order to effectively limit the number of injuries worldwide that are directly related to stairways and their components. Residential homes are the number one source for stairway injuries worldwide. Falls are the second-leading cause of unintentional deaths in the home and community; resulting in more than 25,000 fatalities in 2009. To help ensure that the home that you’re going to occupy is safe, we inspect the interior and exterior stairways visually for deficiencies in the railings, balusters, spindles, guards, treads, risers, lighting, and clearance. Defects observed in the visible portions of these components are noted in the report.
Fireplace and Chimney
The chimney’s primary purpose is to dispel the bi-products from burning fuels safely out of the home as well as containing its fire within the hearth. The primary items to be inspected on the chimney include the visible and accessible components of the firebox, hearth extension, fuel source, combustion air source, doors, circulating fan, lintel, damper, flue, fire blocking at attic penetration, chimney crown, cap and spark arrestor. Defects observed in the visible portions of these components are noted in the report. No testing of the draft performance is performed.
Porches, Balconies. Decks, and Carports
Porches, balconies, decks, and carports are an important accessory to any home. These additions are prone to improper installation methods that can be costly to repair, and potentially unsafe. These areas are inspected at the visible attachments and for safety issues related to balusters, spindles, rails, and stairs.
Service Entrance and Panels
The electrical system has many components that must work in harmony in order to provide your home with electricity. The vast majority of residential homes are supplied with power via two 120 volt wires and one neutral wire, giving your modern home the much needed 240 volts necessary to power appliances like the stove, range, dryer, and HVAC system. Generally, homeowners are responsible for everything that happens after the attachment to the meter. The outlets, switches, fixtures, and grounding system also play a key role in your home’s electrical system. Your inspector is limited by many factors on what can and cannot be properly inspected. However, the safety of your home and family is of highest priority. We will report every defect that we can verify.
Branch Circuits, Connected Devices, and Fixtures
The home’s Branch circuit wiring exits the main and sub panels of your home to a point of connection for occupant use. Lights, plugs, switches, and appliances should all be installed safely and by a qualified licensed Professional.
Heating Ventilation and Cooling
A proper functioning HVAC system is vital for the home. Hot humid air creates moisture conditions within the home that are conducive to poor air quality and physical discomfort. A proper functioning system should extract humidity while conditioning your homes air as efficiently as possible.
Your cooling system is an integral part of your home’s overall efficiency and level of comfort. Many factors contribute to the heat load in a home, including; outdoor temperatures, humidity levels, amount of insulation, air-sealing, window locations, and types, and the direction the home is oriented.
The cooling system is inspected for its ability to adequately cool the home, demonstrated by its performance during the cooling cycle. Also, primary and secondary pipes and drain pans are inspected for previous leaks and current condition.
Duct System, Chases, and Vents
Ventilation is very important for all buildings. Good ventilation yields a healthier living environment as it reduces the accumulation of offensive and/or toxic fumes. Interior ventilation and circulation can be significantly improved by keeping interior doors open whenever possible. Most residential homes employ flexible duct systems for the distribution of air through the house. Improperly installed ductwork increases friction in the ducts and reduces airflow and efficiency. Inadequately sealed ducts and return registers can allow unconditioned air to enter the system and conditioned air to leak out of the system and may have a substantial detrimental impact on comfort and heating/cooling costs. The Department of Energy estimates that the typical duct system loses 25-40% of the energy used for heating and cooling. Installations where the ducts are routed through hot attics, as most residential homes employ, lose significantly more. Poorly installed and sealed ductwork can be one of the biggest causes of energy loss in your home
Plumbing Supply, Distribution, Systems and Fixtures
Plumbing supply systems are composed of three relational components, the water supply (aseptic), the fixture components, and the gas supply system.
Supply Piping: Must sustain a flow of clean potable water and not have any cross-connections that would introduce contaminants. Piping systems must be protected against damage and supported. Modern plumbing systems often use plastic tubing and in some systems, the branch piping originates from a central manifold, rather than a traditional series system with a mainline and branches.
Fixtures: Composed of all the end-user devices such as commodes, sinks, tubs and showers.
Gas Supply System: Much of the gas delivery system is typically concealed from inspection underground, inside walls, under attic insulation, etc. This inspection is restricted to only those components that are readily visible and accessible at the time of the inspection.
Drains, Wastes, and Vents
The drain, waste, and vent piping (septic) primary purpose is to collect and remove the solid, liquid, and gas waste from the home to an approved collection point. The primary components that are inspected include the drain piping, traps, and the venting system.
Water Heating Equipment
The water heater is the second largest energy expense in the home at roughly 18% of your total energy bill. With proper care and maintenance, you can not only extend the service life of your water heater, but also the efficiency. Simple steps like manually decreasing the water temperature, insulating the water lines, and water heater tank can help to reduce your monthly cost. Maintenance of the water heater can help extend the life of the system and keep it functioning more efficiently as well. Consider flushing the built-up sediment within the tank annually, as well as inspected the anode rod within the tank.
Food Waste Disposer
Range Exhaust Vent
Range, Cooktop, Oven
Mechanical Exhaust Vent
Garage Door Operator
Doorbell and Chimes
*All work is done at a minimum according to the TREC standards of practice. It is certainly our goal to exceed that in every conceivable way. However, exceeding the agreed-upon standards of practice is not always possible. There are inherent limitations that cannot be overcome and that differ from one inspection to the next, based on the home.