THE INSPECTION SYSTEM
THE BIG PICTURE
The first step in inspecting a home is to examine the big picture for the home. Notice the area the home is located in. Are there other homes of similar age and construction details relative to the home you are inspecting? A comparison will give you a general idea of the upkeep of the home. Have there been significant modifications to the exterior of the building and if so, how is the workmanship?
Start at the exterior front of the house and work your way around the house (clockwise or counter-clockwise) at a distance which allows you to view a complete face comfortably. On each face (front, sides, rear) start your visual inspection at the top of the structure and work your way down to the ground and lot area. As an example, you would start at the front and note the roof and chimneys, the gutters, fascia and soffit's. Then, moving down the exterior wall coverings (brick, wood, aluminum), noting windows, doors, etc. Examine any porches or decks down to the foundation, then the grade or slope of the lot area, followed by any coverings, such as flower beds, walkway's, interlocking brick, driveways, etc. Move closer to the house, to examine more closely any details which may have attracted your attention, without skipping any items. Having completed the front, move to the side of the house and start the same procedure (roof to ground).
On the interior, begin your inspection in the basement and then follow the system throughout each floor in the house. The system for inspecting the interior is to begin with the floor, go to the walls and then the ceiling, and then consider any appliances or other items in the room. Move from room to room, always in the same direction (clockwise or counter-clockwise) so as to not miss any areas. If you see a door, open it!
In a finished room you would notice the floors, walls (including windows) and ceiling. Next look for the heat sources, electrical outlets and switches, fireplaces, closets etc. In bathroom or kitchen, notice the floor, walls and ceiling, then the plumbing fixtures.
While performing the inspection, whether at the exterior, the interior or one of the mechanical systems, note the system first, then its relative condition. For example, if you were inspecting a wall on the interior of the home you would first note that the wall is plaster, and then examine the wall for cracks and irregularities.
The following are some typical problems or occurrences to look for in the major components and systems of the home.
SOFFIT'S AND FASCIA
Note whether the soffit and fascia are wood, aluminum or plastic
GUTTERS AND DOWNSPOUT'S
Ensure gutters slope down toward downspout's
Look for missing mortar
WINDOWS AND DOORS
Look for problems with paint or caulking, and rotted wood components.
PORCHES AND DECKS
Note any settlement or separation from the house. Inspect the underside, if accessible.
Check for cracks, flaking or damaged masonry.
Note any water markings and efflorescence (whitish, chalky substance)
Note any evidence of water penetration (stains, mildew/odors, efflorescence, loose tiles etc.)
Randomly sample to check that the windows and doors work.
Check for cracks in the plaster or loose, sagging plaster.
Look for stains, mechanical damage or evidence of previous repair.
BATHROOMS AND KITCHENS
Check that all fixtures are secure.
Note the condition of the tiles and caulking in the tub/shower area.
Type, style and age of heating & cooling systems.