The home inspection process explained here includes what’s covered in a typical report. A standard home inspection ordered by the buyer focuses on its physical condition.
What a Home Inspection Process Includes
Typical home inspections involve looking at the heating and cooling systems, electrical and plumbing systems, attic, basement, roof, rooms, garage, and structural components.
Details of a Home Inspection Process
The following items explained in greater detail covers every aspect of a home inspection report:
- Chimney and Roof – The inspector checks to see if the roof’s peak is level and straight or if the roof sags between rafters. Shingles observed for signs of deterioration. Visibility of roof vents. If any loose flashing appears near the chimney. Any observation of broken or cracked masonry cap on the chimney. Whether any chimney bricks or mortar appear flaking or missing. Finally, observing if the chimney is straight.
- Gutters, Downspouts, Fascia, and Soffits – The inspector will note whether the fascia and soffit are made out of aluminum, plastic or wood and if any sections appear loose or missing. Observe any visible paint or rotting problems. Observing whether the gutters slope downward and towards the downspouts. Inspectors view the gutters and downspouts for peeling paint or rust in addition to leaks or loose sections.
- Decks and Porches – Inspectors look for cracked or flaking masonry, rotting wood, or paint problems. Also observes if any separation or settlement occurs from the house.
- Doors, Windows, and Walls – Home inspectors check the doors for proper closing and exterior air infiltration along with functioning knobs and hinges. Wall looking straight both horizontally and vertically. Walls free from cracked or loose plaster, unstained from water leakage, and no evidence of prior repairs. Inspectors investigate all windows to locate any problems with caulking, paint, or rotting wood. Also, noting the approximate age of the windows.
- Basement, Floors, and Foundation – Basements observed for signs of water penetration. Foundations viewed for signs of bulging or bowing and other irregularities. Floors examined for signs of deterioration, sagging or sloping, cracked tile coverings, or stained wood.
- Ceilings – The ceilings observed for cracked plaster or loose or sagging. Stains indicate water leakage.
- Bathrooms and Kitchens – Inspectors check all fixtures as secure and no signs of cracks. The tiles and caulking in the shower and tub free from cracking. The faucets functioning with adequate pressure. Observe signs of rotting or staining under countertops. Finally, check the drawers and cabinet doors operate smoothly.
- Electrical and Mechanical Systems – Inspectors observe the age, type and style of the heating and cooling systems, verify last inspection date and any visible signs of corrosion or rust. Inspect the electrical system and observe the age and size of the home’s electrical service and if properly grounded. Lastly, check the wiring to confirm safe condition and the necessity for upgrading.
- Safety – Inspectors examine stairways, steps, and railings for safety. Broken or missing handrails and guardrails noted for future repairs. Observe how many smoke alarms exist and functioning properly. However, inspectors not required to look at security features of the home.
FHA Home Inspection Process Guidelines
Homes qualifying for a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan require more detailed home inspections than those mentioned above.
Buyers like FHA loans because they provide smaller down payments for the home purchase.
The FHA Home Inspection requires these additional items:
- Water Drainage – FHA requires assurance that grading of the lot drains water away from the home while preventing standing water accumulation around the structure.
- Mechanical Items – FHA requires inspection of the electrical wiring to show no loose, fraying, or exposure. Electrical switches and outlets function properly. The heating system must be turned on and observed for adequate functioning. However, the FHA does not require inspection of the air conditioning system. Plumbing must be checked for hot water functioning. The hot water pressure must meet the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) standards. All bathtubs, toilets, and showers must function properly.
- Additional Items – The FHA inspection also requires inspection of a swimming pool to verify the pump works and the water is clear and safe. Rodent infestation must also be investigated for any signs on the property. No door or stairs can be missing and must function correctly. Any septic system or well must work properly.
- Repairs – Standing water around the home, structural issues, faulty or inoperative mechanical systems, and defective paint surfaces must be repaired prior to loan approval. Repairs must be performed by licensed or registered trade persons. An appraiser (or another qualified person) must verify and document all repairs to meet HUD requirements.
California Real Estate Inspection Laws
California never adopted licensing requirements for home inspectors.
However, two laws exist which affect home inspectors in California:
- The Business and Professions Code, sections 7195 et seq. in effect since 1997. This law defines what home inspections do along with requiring minimum duties and constraints. According to the California Real Estate Inspection Association, the law defines a home inspection as “a noninvasive, physical examination for a fee in connection with a transfer of real property of the electrical, mechanical and plumbing systems, or the structural and essential components of a residential dwelling to identify material defects.” The law further defines a “material defect” as a condition which significantly affects the value, safety, habitability or desirability of the dwelling.
- The California Trade Practice Act (Chapter 338) enacted in 1996. This law prohibits unethical home inspection practices. This includes repairing homes that home inspectors visited during the prior 12 months.
California Real Estate Inspection Association
The California Real Estate Inspection Association (CREIA) in existence for over 40 years serves the home buying public. Its members take home inspection courses and pass a vigorous competency test to become a member. In addition, members accept its code of ethics.
Their ICA Real Estate Inspection Certification Program follows the standards adopted by the CREIA.
The home inspection process explained here covers the types of inspections and what a typical report says.
A physical inspection of a home includes:
- Chimney and Roof
- Gutters, Downspouts, Fascia, and Soffits
- Decks and Porches
- Doors, Windows and Walls
- Basement, Floors, and Foundation
- Bathrooms and Kitchens
- Electrical and Mechanical Systems
FHA home inspections look at additional items like:
- Water Drainage from the house leaving no standing water.
- Mechanical Items such as all heating, hot water, and plumbing systems working properly.
- Additional Items like rodent infestation and swimming pools, doors and stairs, septic tanks and wells.
- Repairs to every problem by licensed or registered trade persons and verified before loan approval.
A good home inspection ensures that the home is safe and habitable, while free of defects and problems for future occupants.
Steven Rich, MBA – Guest Blogger
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