Advice from a home inspector. If I was to make recommendations on how to evaluate and buy a home, the following is how I would approach the subject.
- Establish parameters of interest for your dream home, such as; budget, location, type of structure, size, layout, functionality, cosmetic appeal, and more.
- Then I would compile a list of at least three favorite homes that interest me the most.
- Then I would prioritize those favorites.
- Then I would focus on my most favorite home.
- Then I would inspect the home to an appropriate invasive level dependent on the variables of the structure.
- Then, based on the results of the home inspection, I would consult with my own (unbiased) contractors as necessary to get a more thorough understanding of each deficiency and an estimate of repair.
- Then I would combine all the estimates to get a total amount for all necessary repairs.
- Then I would apply a percentage contingency amount for unknown potential necessary repairs.
- Then I would deduct from that amount based on how much I like the home. While taking into consideration; location, type of structure, size, layout, functionality, cosmetic appeal, and more.
- Then I would take into consideration the appraisal value of the home, which may raise or lower that amount.
- Then I would request a credit in that amount from the seller.
- An individual should keep in mind; this depends on the housing market at the time of your purchase and how flexible the seller is.
First, before you want to understand the home inspection process, you should understand construction. The construction industry and the development of a structure will encompass several different trades within construction. The most critical portions of the structure are; foundation/ concrete work (base of the structure), rough wood framing structure (skeleton of the structure), plumbing system (water supply and drainage), electrical system, heating and, cooling system, water heater, and miscellaneous additional various components (doors, windows, cabinets, etc.). Typically, when an individual is involved in the construction industry, they will most likely be a tradesman engaged in one of these areas; concrete, wood framing, plumbing, electrical, and so forth. They will specialize in that one trade and work their entire career in that trade.
A home inspection is defined by the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (NACHI) as; A general home inspection is a non-invasive visual examination of the accessible areas of a residential property performed for a fee. The home inspection is designed to identify defects within specific systems and components that are both observed and deemed material by the inspector.
What this means is the home inspector will be evaluating all areas of the structure. The home inspection includes all areas of construction and trades such as; foundation, wood framing, plumbing, electrical, and more. So how do we take an individual experienced in one area/ trade and have that person evaluate all areas/ trades? The essential quality for your inspector to have is VERSATILITY within the construction industry, through hands-on work experience, education, and qualifications. The inspector’s work experience should reflect versatility, such as; working as a laborer, working as an assistant, working as a maintenance technician, working as a handyman, or working as a construction manager. As the individual works through these various areas of construction, they will take part in the training, installation techniques, and oversight of many different trades of construction. If they are a tradesman, they should have limited experience in many various trades, meaning the home inspector should not work for many years in one trade if they work for many years in one trade. They will have a large amount of experience in that one trade, but no experience in the other trades. They should work for a minimal amount of years in each trade, spanning over several trades. This type of work experience will give them the versatility they need to become an excellent home inspector. The home inspector’s education and qualifications should also reflect versatility. Their knowledge should be in construction technology, construction management, or something similar.
The price you should pay for your home inspection should depend on the type of structure you want to inspect, the size of the structure, the age of the structure, how invasive you want your home inspector to be, and how qualified/ experienced your home inspector is. You should pay more for your home inspection if; you have many square feet to inspect, many different areas of the structure to investigate, or an older structure to evaluate. Also, if you want your home inspector to be very invasive and if you want your home inspector to be an expert. You should pay less for your inspection; if you have a small structure, if you have a new structure, if you do not require an invasive inspection, and if you do not require an overly experienced inspector. The price of the home inspection should be in direct relation to the age of the structure. The older the structure is, the more invasive you should be. The more invasive you are with the home inspection, the more experienced your home inspector should be. The more experienced your home inspector is, the more you should pay for the price of the home inspection. I would consider any structure older than 25 years to be an old structure.
The price of the home inspection depends on many characteristics of the structure, such as; type, size, location, age, and additional services. The price also depends on your home inspector’s characteristics such as; years of construction work experience, education, qualifications, and number of home inspections completed.
The older your structure is, the more invasive you should be with your home inspection. The bigger the structure is, the more invasive you should be with your inspection. I would consider any structure older than 20 years to be an older structure. I would also find any structure larger than 1,500 square feet to be a more prominent structure.
You need a termite inspection if you have moisture problems and many wood members on the exterior façade of the structure or near the ground. Termites are attracted to wood, softwood, and wet wood. If you have any moisture leaks, it can lead to wood members, then to the ground, and can potentially attract the termites to that area. So, if you have roof leaks or plumbing leaks, it may attract termites. If you have moisture pooling on the ground, near the home, it may attract termites. If you have conducive conditions, it may attract termites. The favorable circumstances are pathways that lead the termites from the ground to the structure. For example, tree branches contacting the structure, a fence post touching the earth and to the exterior wall surface, or wood trim/ wood siding reaching the ground and the structure.
The home inspection association sets the standards for the home inspector to follow. The standards of practice establish a minimum benchmark to guide your home inspector. The home inspection covers many aspects and trades within a structure. Therefore, the standards are minimal for each area/ trade within the structure. All home inspectors typically go beyond the minimum standards to avoid potential lawsuits or insurance claims. How far beyond the minimum standards your home inspector surpasses depends on your home inspector’s versatility in the home inspection trade, through his/ her inspection techniques and methods, work experience, and education/ qualifications. You should be able to confirm your home inspectors’ qualifications. You can do this from the home inspectors’ profile page on the company’s website. If there is no profile available for your home inspector, then you cannot confirm their background. Therefore, I would not recommend using them. It is important to remember that visible accessibility determines the outcome of your home inspection. So, if your home inspector cannot access it and cannot see it, he/ she cannot inspect it.
The inspection of an attic is moderately important. It is necessary that the attic hatch be accessible and not permanently closed. The home inspector evaluates the roof structure, insulation, electrical system, plumbing vents, HVAC equipment, and other general areas. Some deficiencies found in the attic are; moisture stains on the underside of the roof decking indicating a roof leak, or open electrical junction boxes/ exposed electrical splices indicating a fire hazard. Some additional deficiencies found in the attic are incorrect insulation thickness showing poor energy efficiency, improper plumbing vents, or inaccurate installation techniques for the HVAC equipment. The accessibility of the attic depends on several factors. The height of the interior space to maneuver. The thickness of the insulation and the agility of the home inspector. If the roof is flat, then there may be no attic space or at least a small cavity between the interior ceiling and the roof framing members. If the roof is a low-slope gable (triangle-shaped) 4/12 or lower roof, it may be difficult for the inspector to maneuver around. If the roof is a high sloped gable roof, then the inspector should be able to access a good portion of the attic. If the insulation is a very thick blown-in insulation, the inspector may not be able to access the area due to potential damage/ compacting of the insulation. When an individual compacts/ steps on blown-in insulation, the insulation loses its R-value and its ability to properly prevent air leakage, lowering the energy efficiency of the thermal envelope. Some other reasons that may limit the accessibility of the attic space; lack of permanent walkways, plumbing vent pipes, wood framing members, or HVAC ducts. When the attic space has limited availability, the home inspector views all visibly accessible areas from the attic hatch.
In my opinion, the crawlspace inspection is the most critical part of the home inspection. The crawlspace area is where the home inspector will view the condition of the concrete foundation walls. The home inspector will look for signs of movement/ settlement in the structure throughout the home inspection, but to physically see the cracks in the foundation walls will give your home inspector a better advantage on how to gauge the severity of any potential foundation issues. Some other areas to be inspected in the crawlspace are; plumbing water supply and drainage, floor structure, electrical system, insulation, and more. The crawlspace hatch should be accessible, appropriately sized, and not permanently installed. The height of the space in the crawlspace should be enough for the home inspector to maneuver throughout the area. There should not be any dangerous conditions in the crawlspace, such as; previous sewer leaks, rodent issues, previous pest treatments, etc. If any of these conditions exist, it will limit the accessibility of the crawlspace and minimize the results of the home inspection, thereby increasing the unknowns and potential future repairs costs.
The accessibility of a structure that is under evaluation is critical since the home inspection is dependent on visible availability. All areas should be accessible, including the most vital areas such as; the crawlspace, attic, roof, main electrical panel, plumbing system, water heater, and HVAC equipment. If these areas are not accessible, it will limit the results of the home inspection. A home inspection becomes restricted for several reasons. Such as; furniture, storage items, permanently installed hatches, locked doors, dangerous areas, areas with active construction, areas with previous construction, new construction/ fresh paint on surfaces, limited height in attic/ crawlspace, roof height inaccessible by ladder. The home inspector will attempt to access all areas of the home, but if there are excessive amounts of obstructions, the home inspector may exclude an entire area of the house. Also, please keep in mind, an excessive amount of people in the home at the time of the home inspection will limit or distract the home inspector and should be avoided. If other investigations are occurring at the same time, it may limit the home inspection. The home inspector should be left alone while he/ she is evaluating the home; this is to your benefit.
Home inspectors use building codes as a reference. If a home inspector discovers an area of concern, it will be noted as such and should be further investigated and repaired by a qualified contractor. A home inspection is not a code-compliant home inspection. Therefore, home inspectors do not quote whether something is code compliant or is not code compliant.
To determine if something is or is not code compliant will depend on several factors. Compliance with building codes is confirmed while erecting the structure. Home inspectors evaluate structures already constructed. Therefore, most areas of the structure will be visibly inaccessible and cannot be determined to be code compliant or not. Building codes cannot be initiated into a structure unless the city adopts that building code before the completed construction. The building code will go unconfirmed in the structure because the municipality did not select the building code. Some building codes may be “grandfathered in,” which means the city does not require the homeowners to update their structures to current code standards. If some cities do not adopt a building code, then it may not apply to the location of your home. Home inspectors will learn about building codes throughout their construction career and their home inspector education. The building codes they learn about may pertain to; a trade, a city, or the entire state. Their building code knowledge will depend on how they progressed through the construction industry over their career. So, if building code knowledge can be based on a specific trade, a city, or the entire state, which is best for you? In my opinion, the inspectors building code knowledge should apply to the whole state and not only a city or trade. If the building code knowledge of your home inspector pertains to a specific trade or a city, it will not be versatile enough. The home inspector will not know building codes that apply to other trades or other cities, and this can minimize the results of your home inspection.
The term “grandfather in” refers to building codes. When cities adopt building codes, the city will not require all homeowners to upgrade their homes to that specific code. So that building code in that home is “grandfather in.” Now, if a homeowner decides to do construction work to their home in an area with a newly adopted building code and the homeowner requests a construction permit from the city. That city will require that homeowner to upgrade to the current building code.
A state can govern home inspectors through a licensing program or by a home inspection association through a certification program. In the state of California, there is no licensing program to oversee home inspectors. Therefore, the home inspector may choose which home inspection association to join. The home inspector you select should be a certified home inspector.
The standards of practice determine the included items and excluded items of a home inspection report. The home inspection association establishes the standards of practice for your home inspector. The standards guide your home inspector on what to look for when he/ she is evaluating your home. The standards can be minimal in each trade but will encompass a lot of overall trades/ areas of a home. The standards can range from specific to broad. The standards are a non-invasive visual evaluation. You should always read the standards of practice that apply to your home inspector. It will give you an idea of what areas may need further investigation and would be your responsibility.
A home inspection is a visual examination on a non-invasive basis. So, if an area of the home is visually inaccessible, it will not be included in the home inspection. A home inspection is not invasive. The home inspector will not use tools to dismantle equipment and spend several hours examining one piece of equipment or area of the home. If the reason for the problem is not readily apparent, the home inspector will not continue to troubleshoot the problem. The home inspector will evaluate the structure, document the issues, and describe those problems to the client in a simple manner. It is the responsibility of the contractor, in the trade in question, to further investigate the issue, recommend the method of repair, and give repair costs. The structure is the only thing included in the home inspection. Some items not included in a home inspection are; sprinkler systems, exterior landscape lighting, retaining walls, and more. The excluded areas will require different inspectors/ additional testing. Such as; wood destroying organisms (termite/ mold), asbestos, lead, radon, camera down the waste pipe, or camera up the chimney flue. If a home inspection were to be invasive, then it would take several hours or days to inspect a structure. The home inspector would have to possess massive amounts of education or work experience in all areas of construction, and the home inspection would cost thousands of dollars. This type of situation is not feasibly possible. If a home inspector seems to be overly invasive in one area/ trade, you should be concerned. The more a home inspector knows about one area/ trade, the less he/ she will know about the other areas/ trades.
The major areas of a structure are; the concrete foundation (base of the structure), the rough wood framing members (skeleton of the structure), the plumbing system (water service, water distribution, water drainage, and sewer pipe), the electrical system, the roof system, the heating and cooling system (HVAC), and the water heater.
First, you should categorize the sections of the home by; foundation, wood framing, plumbing, electrical, roof, heating and cooling, water heater, and other general areas. Second, you should prioritize those areas as; electrical, foundation, plumbing, roof, heating and cooling, water heater, wood framing, and other general areas. You should obtain cost estimates for the repairs in each area. You should then total all costs of repairs and add a contingency amount to account for the inaccessible areas/ unknown maintenance.
The concrete foundation system is a high priority area because of increased repairs costs. The plumbing system is a moderate priority area and can range from low to high-cost repairs, or safety-related concerns. The electrical system is a high priority area and is directly related to significant safety concerns. The roof system, heating, and cooling system, and water heater are all low priority areas.
The concrete foundation system includes caissons that go into the ground, a footing at ground level, and a foundation stem wall. The caissons are drilled holes into the land and anchor the foundation to the ground below the surface. The footing is a flat horizontal section of the foundation, intended to spread the weight of the structure onto the ground. The foundation stem wall is a vertical member to take the load of the structure. The footing and stem wall together will form an upside-down “T” design. The foundation is a concrete mixture with rebar for increased strength. Some of the issues that can weaken or negatively affect the foundation are; incorrect preparation of the soil, old foundation with no rebar, concrete mixture not appropriately mixed, concrete mixture not adequately cured, or incorrectly sized foundation sections. The typical problems associated with foundation walls are foundation settlement and cracking. This leads to settlement in the foundation, settlement to the structure, unlevel floors, cracking in wall and ceiling surfaces, and doors and windows out of square. These foundation problems can range from minor foundation shrinkage cracks to major foundation cracks and the settlement of entire sections. I typically gauge foundation problems by how many cracks are present in the foundation and by how wide the cracks are. The shrinkage cracks (hairline cracks) are minor problems and can be left alone or repaired/ strengthened with metal straps. The wider cracks are moderate concerns and can be fixed with metal straps or installing new caissons. When there are several moderate-sized cracks in one wall section, it can lead to the movement of an entire wall section. When there are moderate cracks at the corners of the foundation walls, it can lead to the movement of a whole wall section. A highly expansive soil, such as clay, can lead to excessive movement in the foundation. When the foundation wall is old, 1940’s, or less, it may not have rebar and, therefore, will be a weaker foundation system. The foundation with less problems that I have seen is slab-on-grade foundations. The foundations with most problems are old raised foundations on clay soil and old foundations on a hillside.
The rough wood framing members make up the skeleton of the structure. Typical, there is not an excessive number of mistakes discovered in this area. The average wood framing mistakes are; substandard notches/ modifications to wood framing members or wood framing members spanning too far or incorrectly sized.
The plumbing system includes the water service pipe, the distribution pipes, the drainage pipes, the waste pipes, and the vent pipes. The water service pipe supplies water from the street to the home, and the water distribution pipes provide water to all various necessary locations in the house. The drainage pipes take dirty water from all the many areas to the sewer waste pipe. The sewer pipe is carrying all toilets and drainage water from the home back out to the street. The vent pipe will come from all the drainage lines and the sewer line. The vent pipe may combine in various locations through the home and then enter through the roof, or they may each come through the roof individually. Plumbing issues typically will lead to future problems for the wood framing members and mold-related potential problems. Simple repairs can fix minor plumbing leaks. But if the entire plumbing system has been installed with tainted materials, installed by incompetent contractors, or has reached the end of its life expectancy, then it can lead to excessive damage throughout the structure. You should be aware of the type of material used and the life expectancy of each section of your plumbing system.
The electrical supply will start at the street/ electrical pole and bring power to the home through the Service Entrance Conductors (S.E.C.). The Service Entrance Conductors (S.E.C.) will connect to the main electrical panel and distribute the electrical supply among all the various circuits/ breakers in the main electrical panel. There may be additional circuits with increased amperage that distribute electrical supply to secondary electrical panels (subpanels) and distribute electrical supply to their circuits. Each circuit will have a neutral wire that brings power back to the sub panels and the main panels. Each circuit will also have a ground wire that acts as a secondary neutral wire in case of an emergency. The neutral wires and ground wire will be combined at the main panel and then go back out of the street/ electrical pole. There are several potential deficiencies associated with the electrical system. The typical and most critical possible defects to be aware of are; S.E.C. issues recalled or problem-related panels, and missing safety features (AFCI breakers and GFCI outlets). Also, old knob and tube wiring and old aluminum wiring, missing a grounding wire throughout the electrical system. Any problems with the electrical system are directly related to safety hazards. If one or more of these problems exist in your electrical system, it can be a severe safety concern. You should be aware of what type of wiring you have if you have problem-related panels if you have safety features (AFCI and GFCI), and if you have a grounding wire.
The roof system can be several different shapes and several different materials. The primary type of roofs we are most concerned with are gable (triangle shaped) roofs and flat roofs. The essential deficiencies associated with roofs are; deteriorated roof surface material, substandard flashing at roof penetrations or roof transition points, excessive pooling water on flat roofs. When a roof surface reaches the end of its life expectancy, several areas will start to open and create vulnerable areas to leaks. If these areas go unrepaired, it can lead to widespread leakage and damage to wood framing members. You should be aware of the overall condition of the roof surface materials and roof flashings.
There are various types of equipment and methods to heat and cool a home. A typical heating and cooling system include a condenser and a furnace. The condenser location is at the exterior of the house. The place of the furnace is in the interior of the home. The furnace is comprised of three sections; an evaporator coil (cooling system), a heating section (electrical or gas), and a fan section (shared by heat and cooling). The fan extracts air and disperses air in and out of the system. The ductwork will have a return line that extracts air from the home and supply lines individually that disperse air to all vital areas of the home. There will also be one or more thermostats in the house, located in common areas. The cooling system includes two parts; the evaporator coil located in the furnace and the condenser coil located in the condenser on the outside of the home. The heating and cooling system is a luxury and is a low priority item. But there can be safety concerns related to the furnace and its’ installation. The most critical deficiencies you should be aware of are the condition of the exhaust pipe, the state of the gas supply, and any recalled furnace manufacturers. The evaporator coil creates condensation, which drains into a pan and then to the proper drainage pipe. You should be aware of the condition of this drainage system; leaks can occur and create minor moisture-related problems. It would be best if you also were mindful of the age of your units. The typical life expectancy for most heating and cooling systems is 20 years. A new heating and cooling system can be expensive.
A water heater is a significant appliance that heats the water. The water heater is considered a luxury item and a low priority, but there are some safety concerns. Such as the presence of seismic straps, the condition of the exhaust pipe, the state of the gas line, the shape of the temperature and pressure relief valve, and drain line. You should also be aware of the age of your unit. The typical life expectancy for all water heaters is 15 years.
The additional inspections are; wood destroying organisms (pests and mold), asbestos, lead, radon, sewer line (camera), chimney flue (camera), pool/ spa, sprinkler system, retaining walls and soils engineer.
Whether your home inspector is licensed or certified will depend on their location. In the state of California, a certification confirms home inspectors’ competence. No state agency oversees or regulates home inspectors in the state of California. Home inspectors can also be master certified. If a home inspector is licensed, its probably a contractor license within the state. A contractor’s license is a good thing for you and means they have a higher degree of education/ work experience, but they should always be a certified home inspector as well.
The various home inspection associations will provide home inspector oversight and regulation. The home inspector will abide by the standards of practice and the code of ethics established by the home inspection association. The standards of practice are the guidelines. These guidelines encompass the inclusions and exclusions of the home inspection. The code of ethics are rules taken from the real estate law section of the state about home inspectors. The home inspection association will also provide; education, support, and training to its’ home inspectors.
A home inspection is part of several methods you will use to evaluate your home. Some of the aspects you will use to assess your home are; price/ budget, location, size, functionality, cosmetic appeal, and the condition of the home/ the home inspection. The home inspection is vital for several reasons, such as safety, money, and the basis for all other repairs. In my opinion, safety is the number one concern when it comes to purchasing a home, and safety supersedes all other matters. There may be several hazardous conditions in your home that you do not even know about, that are negatively affecting you. Next is money, if you do not have an excellent, thorough home inspection, you will not know what repairs are necessary and how much it will cost. If you are not aware of how much money you need for repairs, you will most likely pay more for a house because you want a bigger/ better house. As time passes, you will start to discover the need for necessary repairs that were not discovered during your home inspection because you had an inexperienced/ incompetent home inspector. You may be able to get some of those repairs covered by the home inspection companies’ insurance, if he made a mistake, if it was accessible at the time of the home inspection, and if it was within the standards of practice. If none of this exists at the time of the home inspection, the home inspectors’ insurance will not pay for it. If you cannot get those expenses covered by the home inspector, then you will have to pay for those repairs yourself. If you went over budget or met your budget for the purchase of your home, you will not be able to afford those repairs. In the meantime, those necessary neglected repairs will increase the damage to the structure, thereby increasing the cost for the repairs and making the situation worse. Lastly, the home inspection is the basis for all other repairs. If you do not have a good understanding of each necessary repair/ area of the home, then you will have a misconception of the renovations, which increase the cost of those repairs over time. It would be best if you also considered the expanded hazardous conditions and inconvenience of construction.
In my opinion, based on over 2,500 completed home inspections, the best foundations are slab on grade foundations, on flat land. The foundations that I have evaluated with the worst problems are; brick foundations, foundations with no rebar (built 19040’s or before), and old foundations on a hillside. In my opinion, you should never purchase a home with a brick foundation. Also, it would be best if you were very cautious with an old hillside home foundation that is showing signs of movement/ settlement.
There are several questions that you can ask your home inspector, as follows. How many years of construction-related experience do they have? How many different trades, which trades, and how many years in each trade of construction experience do they have? Are they a licensed contractor? If so, what type of license/ trade? Are they a certified home inspector? Are they a master certified home inspector? Which home inspection association are they a member? Are they a previous member of any other home inspection associations? How long have they been a home inspector? Do they have an educational background in construction? If so, what area? Do they have additional education certificates from home inspection schools or associations? If so, how many and in what areas? How many home inspections have they completed to date? Do they have any insurance claims? Are they an independent home inspector, or do they belong to a multi-inspector firm? What locations do they primarily work? Do they have education or experience in any other additional areas, such as; wood-destroying insects, mold, asbestos, sewer lines, chimney flues, pool/ spa, or sprinkler systems.
Yes, you should be present for your home inspection. You should be present to evaluate your home inspector and to complete the walkthrough with them at the end of the examination. The walkthrough will enable you to have a better understanding of the home inspection results. You can also add your concerns, such as cosmetic items.
It would be best if you prioritized foundation cracks by how many cracks are present and by how wide each crack is. You should be aware of multiple cracks in the wall of one section. The more cracks you have and the wider each crack is signals of how much movement is occurring in the soil. The more cracks you have in one wall section tell us there is significant movement in one area, and the entire wall may need substantial repair.
In my opinion, a checklist home inspection is a limited inspection. The standards of practice set by the home inspection association determines what is on the checklist. The standards are relatively minimal. Therefore, the checklist will be minimal. The checklist does not allow the home inspector the freedom to surpass the standards to achieve a more invasive home inspection. The construction industry, a residential structure, the varying ages of the structures, the different types of structures, the various materials used, the various installation techniques, and the different manufacturers are all extremely complex and versatile to compile all into one checklist.
A condo/ townhome home inspection is minimally invasive by its nature and is limited to interior space only. The home inspector will exclude the exterior areas because they are common areas of the complex. The exterior spaces are technically a commercial building inspection, which your home inspector is not a commercial building inspector. Also, the outer areas are typically the responsibility of the homeowner’s association; therefore, you do not have to pay for the repairs to these areas. Usually, the home inspector will not be inspecting a crawlspace, an attic, a water heater, a furnace/ condenser, exterior walls, and more. The invasive nature of a home inspection will decrease when excluding these areas from the home inspection. You should not pay a lot of money for a condo/ townhome home inspection. The areas of the unit that you should be most concerned with are; type of plumbing system/ age, an update of electrical safety features, and the age of major appliances, if accessible. If your unit does have dedicated major appliances (water heater and HVAC units), you should confirm that these areas are available at the time of the home inspection. If the unit number is not placed on your appliances, the home inspector will have to exclude it from the home inspection report.
The number of days that you will need to evaluate your home will be determined by; the type of structure, the size of the structure, additional services, and the age of the structure (most important). You will need time to; arrange the home inspection with everyone involved, conduct the home inspection, wait for the results of the home inspection, call various contractors, schedule contactors to visit the residence, and wait for contractors compile estimates for repairs. The older, bigger, and more complex the structure is, the more time you will need. You should not attempt to evaluate the home, based solely on your home inspection, and you should not try to compile repair estimates from your home inspector. It is best to consult with specific tradespeople from each area for the method of repair and repair costs.
The home should be ready for a home inspection. Ideally, the house should be entirely vacant of people, furniture, and storage items. The utilities (gas, water, electrical) should be on and operational. The valves should be in the open position; the pilot lights should be functioning; the electrical breakers should be on. All installations should be complete, and no areas should be under construction. It is very typical for gas to be on, but pilot lights to appliances are off. It is also common for the water service to be on, but the individual water supply valves are off. It is very typical for appliances to be put in place but not completely installed and operational. According to the home inspection association standards of practice, home inspectors do not turn on valves, do not turn on electrical breakers, or work on the home in any way. If certain areas of the house are not ready for the home inspection, the home inspector will have to exclude that entire area. A full review of the gas system cannot occur if the gas is off. An evaluation of all water fixtures cannot occur if the water service is off.
The major appliances are the furnace unit, condenser unit, and water heater. The manufacture dates of these units will tell us if they are at the end of their life expectancies and in need of replacement. Therefore, the units should be accessible; the identification sticker should be visibly available and legible.
The difference between a certified home inspector and a non-certified home inspector is of the utmost importance. A certified home inspector will have the guidance, support, and education that comes from the home inspection association. The home inspector will complete the introductory requirements set by the home inspection association, such as education classes and preliminary home inspections, with an experienced home inspector within the association. It is usual for the home inspector to abide by the standards of practice and code of ethics set by the home inspection association. A non-certified home inspector will not have any of these benefits. They will be uneducated, unconfirmed, unsupported, and confused about their job. It will most likely lead to many mistakes and potential lawsuits between the home inspector and the customer.
A master home inspector designation is a higher degree of excellence within the home inspection association. A master home inspector will have completed over 2,000 home inspections with no insurance claims and a higher degree of education.
A licensed home inspector pertains to states that have their department that governs home inspectors and issues licenses. The state of California is not one of these states. Your home inspector should be a certified home inspector. If your home inspector is licensed, it may be referring to a contractor’s license. It is better for you and adds to the home inspectors’ qualifications within the construction industry. But the home inspector should still be certified.
How to use the manufacture date of your home or installation date of various systems of the home to evaluate the structure.
The use of rebar in concrete foundations started in the mid 1940’s. Brick foundations were used before the mid 1930’s. Anchor bolts were used starting in 1945. If your home was manufactured before these dates your foundation may be weaker and more susceptible to foundation problems.
Galvanized plumbing system has a 40-60-year life expectancy. The water supply system will typically reach the end of its life expectancy at the 40-year mark. The drainage system will last longer, closer to the 60-year mark.
A cast iron waste pipe has a 60-100-year life expectancy. If the pipe is installed on a slope it may shift over time. If the pipe is installed near trees, the roots may intrude on the joint seams of the pipe.
A clay waste pipe has a 50-year life expectancy.
If your home or your home’s plumbing system is older then these life expectancy dates, it may have reached the end of its’ life expectancy and need repair or replacement.
Water heater unit
The typical life expectancy for a water heater tank unit is 8 to 12 years. The typical life expectancy for a tankless water heater unit is 20 years. This will depend on the type of manufacturer, preventive maintenance, type of installation, and usage. If your home and/ or water heating unit is older than the life expectancy dates, then they may have reached the end of their life expectancy. If you want to know the manufacture date of your unit, take note of the manufacture name and serial number. Then do an internet search for “manufacture name water heater unit date code”. For example; Rheem water heater date code. Then look for building-center.org. This website has instructions on how to determine the manufacture date for most water heating units.
Knob and tube electrical wiring was phased out of construction arounds the 1940’s.
The grounding system started to be used in 1971.
The use of G.F.C.I. (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) outlets started in 1971 at swimming pool areas and exterior locations. As time moved forward, it slowly progressed into more interior locations in the home’s wet areas, such as; bathrooms, garage, kitchen, spa/ jacuzzi, basement, crawlspace, wet bar, and laundry area.
The use of A.F.C.I. (Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter) breakers started in 1999 for bedrooms circuits only. In 2008 A.F.C.I. breakers were added to other areas of the home, to include; family rooms, dining rooms, living rooms, parlors, libraries, dens, bedrooms, sunrooms, recreation rooms, closets, hallways, laundry areas, and similar rooms and areas.
If your home or your home’s electrical system was installed before these important milestone dates, it may need updates, repairs, or replacement to increase the safety.
HVAC system (Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning)
The typical life expectancy for a furnace unit is 16 to 20 years. The typical life expectancy of a condenser unit is 15 to 20 years. This will depend on the type of manufacturer, preventive maintenance, and the usage of the units. If your home and/ or HVAC units are older than the life expectancy dates, then they may have reached the end of their life expectancy. If you want to know the manufacture date of your unit, take note of the manufacture name and serial number. Then do an internet search for “manufacture name condenser unit or furnace unit date code”. For example; Goodman furnace date code. Then look for building-center.org. This website has instructions on how to determine the manufacture date for most furnace and condenser units.
The following are the life expectancy dates of various roofing material types. Some roofing materials will deteriorate at different rates depending on the angle/ type of roof, sun exposure, and moisture exposure. If your home and/ or roof is older than the following dates, the roof may have reached the end of its life expectancy.
Rolled roofing material 5 – 15 years
Composition shingles 20 – 50 years
Concrete tiles 50 years
Clay tiles 50 years
Granite tiles 100 years
Licensed contractors should complete previous repairs. The license should be associated with the trade of the repair. For example, an electrician license can only complete electrical repairs. There should also be documentation of the repair. The documentation will outline the cost of the repair and the quantity of materials used. Many times, people claim a complete renovation, but I discover only partial replacement. A fully completed repair is necessary. The partial repairs leave vulnerable areas open to future damage. You must consult with the seller to determine the reason for the repair. The previous repairs are often not appropriately completed, not full, and need additional cosmetic repairs in the area of concern. All previous repairs should be reevaluated by a contractor or monitored in the future. If a licensed individual did not complete the repair, you should assume that it was not completed properly and will need further evaluation. If there is no documentation of the repair, you should consider that it was not completed properly and will need further evaluation.
You must understand the construction industry. The construction industry is so complex that it is necessary to separate it by trades, foundations, wood framing, plumbing, electrical, and more. Tradespeople will typically start in one area/ trade, and they will progress through that one trade throughout their careers. They will specialize and become an expert in that trade. Home inspectors typically do not start their career in the home inspection trade. The home inspector will most likely start in some area of construction and then transition into the home inspection. But the home inspection trade evaluates all areas/ trades of construction. So instead of needing someone who specializes in one area/ trade, you need someone who does not specialize in one area/ trade. The best home inspector for you is someone who has exceptionally varied work experience, education, and qualifications in the construction industry. This individual should have small amounts of knowledge, training, and skills in each area/ trade, not large amounts in one trade. This versatility will give the individual what they need to be a great home inspector.
The reason you should choose me was due to a mistake I made in my construction career path. When I first started in construction, I was working as a maintenance person working at a health club. This position later evolved into the maintenance technician position, which allowed me to work on the exercise equipment, and along with that, I was making repairs to all the various areas of the commercial building, such as plumbing, electrical, and much more. This type of work is how I got involved in construction. After five years of working at this company, I decided that I wanted to get into a residential home building. I had the right amount of knowledge in the construction industry, but not enough specific expertise in one area of construction. Therefore, I had to start from the beginning as a laborer. I was mostly working on foundations, wood framing, and other general areas of residential home construction. After another five years, I had become a carpenter. I decided to leave this company and go to school. I realized how versatile my construction experience was. I also realized I was perfect for a home inspector. Even though I had a good career as a carpenter, and I was on my way to becoming a Foreman or construction manager, I decided to leave that company and start a career path in-home inspection. My work experience was still too versatile to specialize in one area of construction. So, I decided to get into the home inspection trade. I started to study home inspection and to get training in home inspection. As I progressed through various home inspection associations and schools, I had amassed an extreme amount of versatile knowledge in all areas of construction. The reason you should choose me as your home inspector is because I have an incredibly varied experience, education, and qualifications in all areas of construction. The versatility is the perfect condition to make an excellent home inspector, which makes me the most qualified person for you.
I have worked for several different construction companies and have worked in many different areas of construction. I have an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Construction Technology and a Bachelor of Applied Science Degree in Construction Project Management. I have a General Building Contractors License in the State of California. The following are the areas/ trades of construction that I have direct work experience in underground drainage systems, retaining walls, foundations, rough wood framing, plumbing, electrical, roofing, sprinkler systems, pools and spas, cabinetry, HVAC (heating and cooling system), drywall, finish carpentry (doors, windows, etc.), and cosmetics (painting, texture, etc.).
I have achieved several educational certificates from many different schools. I have also been a previous member of two home inspection associations. I am an active member of the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors and a Master Certified Home Inspector. I have been a home inspector for over seven years, and I have completed over 2,400 home inspections to date with zero insurance claims.
The following are educations certificates that I have achieved in the home inspection trade;
NACHI (National Association of Certified Home Inspector’s); safe practices for a home inspector, the house as a system, inspecting means of egress, inspecting HVAC systems, Advanced HVAC training for inspectors, how to inspect the exterior, customer service, and communication, how to inspect the attic, insulation, ventilation, and interior, deck inspection, wood-destroying organism inspection, structural issues for home inspectors, performing a roof inspection training course, roof inspection, fundamentals- the exterior-part 2, energy movement for inspectors, building science and thermography, how to inspect pools and spas, inspection of crawlspaces, introduction to InterNACHI’s SOP (Standards of Practice), residential plumbing overview, inspecting water heater tanks, 25 standards every inspector should know, inspecting foundation walls, how to perform residential electrical inspections, and code of ethics for home inspectors certification.
IAC2 (International Association of Certified Indoor Air Consultants); membership certificate, how to Inspect for moisture intrusion, mold inspection, and advanced mold inspection.
CREIA (California Real Estate Inspector’s Association); roundtable meeting, certified CREIA exam, COA’s 2011 Inspection conference, and 2014 CREIA Spring conference.
ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors); heating module, Insulation module, exterior module, electrical module, interior module, and cooling module, all completed within the ASHI smart track online education program.
Career Web School; garages, exteriors, structural components, electrical, standard report form/ report writing, HVAC (heating and cooling system), roofing system, interiors, and plumbing.
Ashworth University; the professional home inspection program; the inspection process, insects/ attics, sidings, doors, windows, roofs, foundations, decks, lots, landscape, garages, paved areas, basements, crawlspaces, electrical service, utility room appliances, introduction to HVAC systems, inspecting HVAC systems, air conditioning systems, kitchens, bathrooms, plumbing, energy and environment issues.
High Sierra Education Services; structural pest control board approved technician course, and general safety, IPM, Laws, Pest, and termites for technician verifiable training.
McKissok online continuing education; home inspection safety certificate, practical and successful reporting certificate, basic principles of a residential electrical inspection certificate, electrical service inspections certificate, and attic ventilation certificate.
A home inspection is not a home warranty or home insurance. The home inspector’s insurance covers the home inspector, not the customer. The home inspector’s insurance will only pay for a repair to the customer’s home if it was a mistake made by the home inspector, the area was visibly accessible at the time of the home inspection. The deficiency must fall within the standards of practice set by the home inspection association. Some home inspectors offer short home warranties with their home inspections; the customer should review the specifics of that home warranty.