Regular property inspections are important in maintaining one’s property. Repairs are often expensive, and it’s best to fix any problems as soon as possible to avoid further, more costly expenses down the road.
Since the 1980’s, property inspection reports have become industry standard in avoiding costly discoveries during the escrow process. For those interested in selling or buying a home, property inspections provide a certifiable record of maintenance needed on the home. A great property inspection may make all the difference in negotiating buying or selling a home.
Both old homes and newly-built homes can have problems: each and every home will have some small repairs needed, medium defects, or large projects. Some of these are obvious to the naked eye. Most homebuyers spend an average of thirty minutes walking through a home before making an offer. A building inspector is trained to look for concerns like a forensic architect, noting the condition of the property’s overall physical condition along with foundational issues, structural concerns, breathability of the attic space, quality of insulation, roofing, electrical wiring and fixtures, plumbing, fireplaces and chimney flues, fixtures, railings, ground drainage, defective plumbing, poor construction, regulatory compliance, and more.
In most states, the main regulatory standards for property inspectors are those written and enforced by professional associations such as National Association of Property inspectors (NAHI), and state or local regulatory boards. In Virginia, property inspectors must follow the Virginia Board for Asbestos, Lead, and Property inspectors regulations. Discuss which professional association or regulatory standards your inspector will follow.
Before Your Property Inspection…
Letting the property inspector have access to all areas of the home is critical. Property inspectors cannot do demolition or construction, so make sure all areas of your house are clear for access, including crawl spaces and access panels. Consider the locations of your electrical box, furnace, gas lines, hot water heater, fixtures, air conditioning units, attic door, basement access, garages, sheds, etc. Remove all the items from underneath the sink or in storage areas so inspectors have access to plumbing work. If the inspector cannot gain access, he or she will not include the appropriate sections in the report.
During Your Property Inspection…
During course of a property inspection, the inspector will focus on several key areas of the home, from its foundation, framing, roofing, attic, plumbing, heating, electrical system, fireplaces, chimneys, pavement, fences, stairs, decks, patios, doors, windows, walls, ceilings, floors, and outside drainage. All relevant findings will be written in a detailed report, and the property inspector present the key issues and concerns during the inspection, if a property owner is there.
Top Five Problems Found During Property Inspection
Construction defects and safety violations are a part of any inspection process, but the majority of property inspection findings tend to fall into a few key categories: the most damaging of which is water intrusion and leakage. Water decays wood and other natural materials. When water enters the home, it is only a matter of time before a small leak can develop into key concerns. During your property inspection, your professional team member will certainly look for these key issues, among many other concerns.
Due to weathering, aging, or improper installation, roofing issues are an expensive and key concern to many home owners. If your building inspector notices compromised drywall, ceiling stains, or missing flashing, this may be indicative of past or current leaks. Leaks themselves are tricky to problem solve. Water follows the path of least resistance, and sometimes, the location of the leak may not be where the issues are found. Consider planning your inspection on a rainy day or recreating the conditions where the leak was noticed
Drainage or Grading Concerns
Water intrusion into basements and crawlspaces due to groundwater and drainage conditions can be signs of loss of structural integrity. These concerns are expensive to resolve, labor-intensive, and often very damaging to buildings. Your building inspector will look for problems in your grading outside the home or with the basement inside the home. Correction can be as simple as regrading the exterior grounds or adding roof gutters or as expensive as digging a trench around the home for complex drainage systems or creating a moisture barrier.
Rotting, molding, or decomposing wood is a key concern all property inspectors search roof eaves, exterior trim, decks, around bathroom fixtures, and for molding and fungus build-up. Whether the concerns be at the roof or exterior of the building, or a problem with pipes, sewage, or plumbing, water compromises the structure of wood. When wood stays wet for long periods of time, molding or rotting is very likely to occur, resulting in bacterial growth and dry rot.
Building and Permitting Violations
Your local area will have record of the plans of the home, which a building inspector will pull for reference during an inspection. Items not permitted and construction completed against code must be resolved before a home can be bought or sold, in most cases.
Electrical Safety Hazards
Your home inspector will check your electrical box for any concerns regarding wattage or load, as well as checking in key areas for unpermitted electrical or plumbing work, shoddy construction, or, in older homes, specific electrical safety hazards, like mixed varieties of wiring product, ungrounded or broken outlets, lack of surge protection or shock protection.