Let’s start with a Webster type definition and we’ll break it down from there. A home inspection is a non-destructive visual examination of the structural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing and roof components of a home. A home inspection is not technically exhaustive.
Now, let’s break that down into easier terms.
A home inspection is a non-destructive visual examination This means that the inspector will view the home without damaging, or moving objects to inspect. The inspector cannot see behind walls, above ceilings, behind outlets, furniture or stored items. He will just inspect what he can see. Heshe will only remove those panels normally used to service a component of the home. If access is blocked, they will not be able to inspect that particular component.
The inspector uses their knowledge of a home to detect items that are damaged, deteriorated, non-functional, a safety hazard, or just plain constructed poorly.
The inspector at times will use tools to perform the inspection like a circuit tester to determine if outlets are wired properly.
Just like a copy editor is trained to spot misspelled words, an inspector is trained to spot defects. It may look like they are moving thru the home not really doing much, but when you do this for awhile, you know what to look for and a defect pops out at them like Jason in a Friday the 13th movie.
A home inspector should be willing to get their hands a bit dirty. If there is attic access, they should go up there. If the crawlspace has got access, they should be willing to get in there for you.
Safety is always the main concern for a home inspector, so sometimes things like walking the roof surface are just out of the question due to safety concerns. Also, if there is say, water in front of the electric panel, you can bet the inspector will not be taking off the panel while standing in a puddle.
Most of the things a home inspector looks for, most people miss while doing their walk-thru with their realtor. Most home buyers look at the new flooring, paint, landscaping, etc.
A home inspector will look beneath all of that and really let you know what you are buying. The new paint won’t be of much use if the roof starts leaking and you need a new roof. Then you’ll also need to repaint to get rid of the stains….and you better hope there’s no mold or you’ll have to replace the drywall….as you can see the problems and costs can really have a snowball effect.
Will a home inspector catch everything Probably not every little thing, but you should be able to sleep better at night knowing that you have done everything possible to ensure your newest investment was a good one.
Do your homework and find an inspector that you feel comfortable with. Don’t wait until the last minute. Plan ahead and search around. Don’t go for the lowest price. Sometimes you get what you pay for.
If you’re buying a home, do yourself a big favor and get it inspected. You won’t have any regrets.