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What does a home inspector look for?

When was the last time you bought or sold a house?

In today’s economy, it’s the perfect time to buy a house with super-low interest rates (currently hovering around the 3.2%-3.8% range… dirt cheap money).  And with the low amount of resale housing inventory, it’s also the perfect time to sell your house… assuming it’s in relatively good condition.

In other words, it’s both a buyer’s and a seller’s market – at least at certain price points and in certain neighborhoods.

So now that you’ve decided to buy (or sell) your home, what are things that you can do to insure that you’re getting a good deal and not some money pit?

Holmes Inspection: The Essential Guide for Every Homeowner, Buyer and Seller
Holmes Inspection:
The Essential Guide for Every Homeowner, Buyer and Seller


But how do you know if you’ve hired a good one?  Here’s a list of some of the things you can follow-up on with your home inspector to ensure that they’ve checked out all the most important things around your (new or old) home.  Web Watch encourages you to read the FULL LIST OF HOME INSPECTING STANDARDS as published by the AMERICAN SOCIETY OF HOME INSPECTORS.

  • Foundations and walls
  • Ensure structural components are intacts
  • Check crawl spaces and attics for water damage
  • Check siding, trim for wood rot or other deterioration
  • Structural integrity of deck, porch, balconies
  • Garage doors, openers
  • Do all exterior doors function properly?  Selected windows and interior doors, but not all.
  • Check gutter, roof for leaks
  • Chimney check
  • Insulation check
  • Check the HVAC system, that it feeds all appropriate rooms, the system works and all safety measures are functional
  • Check that there are no plumbling leaks or drain problems
  • Check all toilets and faucets
  • Hot water? Check!
  • Check the sump pump
  • Check the electrical panels and selected assortment of outlets and switches in the home
  • Are all outlets near a water source GFI or properly grounded?

Things that a home inspector is not required to do or report on:

  • Walk on the roof
  • Check anything attached to the house, like satellite dishes
  • Check anything seasonal, such as storm windows or screens.
  • Check fencing, soil, other yard items including sprinkler systems or septic tanks
  • Check storage sheds or any other external building that’s not part of the living structure (garages, carports are included in inspection)
  • Ignite wood-burning fireplaces or stoves
  • Check window air conditioning units, humidifiers, or electric air filters.
  • Check that there is an adequate amount of air coming to each room from the HVAC system (all they’re checking is that it works, not whether you’re comfortable with the efficiency)
  • Report on wallpaper or paint quality, carpet condition, or window treatments.  If your house is ugly, it’s not the inspector’s job to tell you this.
  • No checking of low voltage (telephone, cable TV, Internet drops)
  • No checking of smoke detectors

But even with a good home inspector, there must be some home horror stories out there.  What have you run into in your own home buying/selling routine?  Describe your “worst money pit” experience in the comments below: