Planning to buy a home or sell a home? You'll need to hire a home inspector.
You wouldn’t purchase a car without taking a test drive. Buying a home shouldn’t be any different, which is why a home inspection is a critical part of the homebuying process.
An inspector examines all accessible parts of the home for damage and defects, but which areas are the most important to check?
Here are the five home features you’ll want scrutinized before you close the deal. No home inspection is complete if these items aren’t included in the final report.
1. Eye the electrical system
John Cranor, owner of Cranor Inspection Services in Glen Allen, Virginia, warns that amateur wiring jobs may lurk behind the walls. He says DIY electrical work, such as adding lights or receptacles, is becoming increasingly common. However, amateur electrical work often doesn’t meet code and poses a risk for electrocution or fire.
2. Peek at the plumbing
Dan Schuerman, owner of Schuerman Inspections in Cincinnati, says he flushes out many plumbing problems during home inspections. He’s spotted deteriorated drain lines, amateur installations, blocked drains and many other issues. Make sure the home inspector notes the condition of the plumbing system in the inspection report.
3. Fixate on the foundation
Cranor says foundation cracks come in different levels of severity. Potential problems include cracking walls, doors that won’t close or stick, and framing that shifts. Foundation cracks threaten the structure of your home and are expensive to repair.
“It [structural damage] really hurts the value of your house,” he says. If any major foundation flaws are found, hire a structural engineer to get a second opinion.
4. Regard the roof
According to Schuerman, roofing problems run the gamut. He’s encountered everything from normal wear and tear to missing shingles and manufacturer’s defects. All these issues, and a host of others, can lead to leaks.
Once a roof leak forms, it’s only a matter of time before the damage tally rises. The areas hit most are ceilings and attic insulation. Cranor adds that if your inspector doesn’t catch the leak before you buy the home, you’ll be stuck with the repair costs and damage.
5. Check the crawl space
Cranor says it’s important that the home inspector physically goes into the crawl space to examine it for defects. He says mold, rot and structural problems often lurk in the crawl space — which is where some of the most expensive problems can occur.
Finally, use the Angie’s List License Check tool to determine if a home inspection license is required in your city or state.
Editor's note: This is an updated version of an article originally posted on February 11, 2014.
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