A typical home inspection
You finally found the property that you’ve been looking for. You’ve wanted a ski condo for years and when you walked in this townhome, you knew this one was it. The updated kitchen really sold you. The fresh paint made things looks really good. You ask your realtor if you need a home inspection. Your friends agree at home. Yes, a home inspection is a good idea. After all you’re spending a lot of money.The inspector shows up on the day of the inspection. After introductions and signing the inspection contract, he gets started. He’s sort of quiet, and makes notes on a tablet which is a bit unnerving. You ask what he’s found and he says the decking is at the end of its lifespan. It may be a homeowner’s association responsibility and he suggests you talk with your realtor to secure the association documents. The inspector continues to walk around jotting down notes and typing on his laptop. You want to ask him what he keeps writing, but he seems to be into what he’s doing so you try not to interrupt. The inspector explains that there is no such thing as a perfect home, and with older properties, there will be maintenance issues. You calm down a bit, are glad you hired him, and at the same time you are wondering if ignorance wasn’t bliss.In the crawlspace, the inspector finds common cracks in the foundation and tells you they are not of structural concern. You feel a little better because you saw those cracks and wondered if they weren’t a structural problem. Onto the plumbing… He checks the main line, the supply lines, the gas lines, and the drain lines. At the water heater he pauses, checks the label and states that the water heater may be at the end of its serviceable life. And the electrical… The inspector unscrews the service panel door, looks inside and notes that there are a few double tapped circuits that should be separated by using “skinny” breakers and that labeling could be improved. Not so bad. He also notes a few uncovered junction boxes that need covers and an open splice, where two wires are connected with tape, important fire safety hazards.He checks the hot water baseboard and explains how it works. You learn a lot, and are grateful because you didn’t have a clue about this kind of heating system.Upstairs the inspection moves much faster. The kitchen appliances test fine. The plumbing under the bathroom sink has a slow drip. He moves through the living room and bedroom testing electrical outlets and windows, peers at the ceiling, walls and floors, opens and closes doors. He checks the heat in each room with a nifty laser thermometer as he cruises from room to room. The attic… He lifts himself up into the attic and disappears from view, but you hear him walking around above you. He asks if you want to come on up but you decline. He says the framing looks good, no sign of moisture, to save on energy you could add insulation. The bathroom vent terminates in the attic and can cause condensation problems in the future but none is observed now.Over three hours later, the inspector says he’s finished with the inspection. Please give him a few minutes on the computer and he’ll print up the report. He’s brought an entire office on site!Although literally hundreds more items are reviewed, this scenario gives you an idea of a typical home inspection. In a new unit, you may find fewer issues, but even newer properties have been known to have water in the crawlspace or settling concerns.A home inspector doesn’t own a crystal ball (wouldn’t that be nice!) but he or she does have the ability to give you a clear picture of the property that you are purchasing on the day of the inspection. You can share the inspection report with your realtor professional and decide your next steps.The inspector found a few things you weren’t expecting and now there’s a lot to consider. You have more homework than you thought, but you’re sure glad that you hired that inspector!Patrick Wathen and Joni Ellis are the owners of Independent Property Inspections, Inc., a member in good standing of NACHI (National Association of Certified Home Inspectors). For more information about home inspections call (970) 468-9400 or visit their web site at http://www.homeinspection.com/ipi.
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