A home (or house) is usually considered one of the most important needs of human. It is the place where young couples start their family; where dreams are realized, love and comfort expressed. The home serves as a shelter in times of typhoon, extensive heat of the sun, and from the cold winter. Therefore, the logical and the physical aspects of a “home” play an important part on our everyday life. Taking care of its physical nature deserved a professional approach since it involves technical concerns such as inspecting the foundations and floorings, exterior and interior finishes, electrical, plumbing, heaters and air conditioning, environmental hazards, and garages.
The process of taking care of the home is done through a home inspection, and is usually conducted by a home inspector for the purpose of determining all possible defects and deficiencies on the physical aspects of a home. The home inspector is equipped with various tools and has undergone extensive trainings to carry out the task.
If a home inspection is to be performed by a qualified home inspector the usual process is to have a conversion first with the owner explaining the pre-inspection contract or agreement and making them to sign on it. It is advisable that the inspection be performed together with the owner so that there will be no problem if any questions arise during the process. Walking around is the next thing to do, trying to grasps the exterior and interior features of the house to be inspected. Together with a checklist, the following areas to be inspected are the following:
a. Foundations, soils, and floors
On checking the foundations inspect the mudsill which is the integral part of the house that specifically lies on the foundation is in good or perfect condition. The soil around the foundation must be dry; and dry rot that can be found on sills, panes, and frames must be checked. The foundation must be bolted to the house for earthquake safety. Crawl space and basement should be checked for leakage and dampness especially during wet weather. Grading should be inspected so that the water drains away from the house. Also check the distance between trees and the foundation so that roots will not intervene on the foundation. Soft spots on floors should be checked not to mention the under house for possible water –damaged supports and floorboards. Evaluate the floor for possible refinish or replacement. Handrails on stairs should be properly attached.
On checking the exterior of the house, inspect specifically the exterior doors, windows, and walls. Blocks or bricks should be checked for cracks; siding for any eminent symptoms of mildew, warping or lifting, missing or loose pieces; painted areas or surfaces for paint fading or failure (chalking, blistering, chipping, and peeling), mildew, or water damage; all trim for decay, damage, or tightness of fit; windows for damaged or cracked glass; all moving parts on doors and windows properly lubricated including its weather stripping for tightness of fit and for damage; and lastly all doors and windows locked and closed properly.
c. Roof, chimney, drainage, and attic
Check for existing leaks or possible areas that may cause leaks on the roof. Also check for loose or damage blisters, shingles, and roofing sponginess. The underside of the roof should also be inspected where dampness and water stains are accessible. Damaged paint on gutters, hangers, splash blocks, and strainers should also be inspected. Trees should not overhang or touch the roof in any way. Roof should be evaluated for future replacement. Check for possible settling or shifting, and cracks. For the chimney, determine its stability and check for any existing or possible obstruction. The drain spouts should be free from obstruction so that water can flow freely. Earth grading should be approximate 6 to 8 inches of concrete foundation. Attic vents should be checked for wasp nests, and rodents under the house and falling in cupboards. Plumbing fixtures should also be checked for water damages or leaks.
d. Interior finishes
Inspect the ceilings, walls, and floors including wallpaper, paint, and other finished treatments, stairways, steps, and railings. All natural and painted finished surfaces should also be checked for needed repairs, and dirt. All joints should be checked in laminated plastic, ceramic tile, and similar surfaces. Caulking around bathtubs, showers, and sinks should also be inspected. Determine if installed wall kitchen cabinets are secured; there should be at least one installed passage door (interior), and at least one window for every room.
Test light sockets, switches, and outlets if they are working properly. Outlets should be of GFCI or ground fault interrupt in the kitchen and bathroom. Look for damage or broken fixtures and outlets. Circuit breakers, main and distribution panel should also be checked not to mention the service entrance system, system grounding, types of conductors and wiring methods used, and the presence of raceways and knobs. Check for exposed wiring, extension cords and smoke detectors if there’s any.
Look for possible leaks around the plumbing system which includes the interior and distribution water supply system of the functional drainage and water flow. Water pressure should also be tested with more than one faucet turned on. Check walls for possible leaks especially at the shower room. Look for the existence of rust on the plumbing system and determine if the water heater comply with the local code being followed. Septic tanks should be checked by qualified service personnel.
g. Built-in appliances and systems
On inspecting household appliances, check the oven and the kitchen range to consequently determine the average operation of the burners or the heating elements with the exception of microwave ovens and the operation of appliance thermostats and timers. Check also the water supply and drainage of dishwashers, and garbage disposer.
h. Heating and air-conditioning
Check the grounding on every special purpose outlets intended for heaters and air-conditioning units. Most of the time ground fault interrupt outlets are being installed to avoid electric shock. The installed thermostat should be checked, also the energy sources, and the heating equipment. Eventually the heating and cooling systems should be checked by a qualified technician (including the gas lines). Check filters, dehumidifiers, and humidifiers for possible cleaning or replacement. Proper ventilation should be present for gas heaters.
i. Pool/ Spa/ Sauna
Inspect if the filtering and the cleaning system are functioning properly. Thermostat should also be checked. Existing leaks (if there is any) and all possible conditions that may lead to leaks and cracks should be inspected thoroughly.
j. Pests and other environmental hazards
Check for termites and beetle holes in wood supports and in any wooden part of the house. Determine also if there is any presence of lead and asbestos within the house premise.
Check for garage door if properly working including vents, ceiling, walls, garage openers, windows and roof. Make sure that all paints, varnish, oil, and polish are kept and placed on a covered metal can for ease of disposing; combustible liquids are placed in a sealed container; fire exit and fire extinguisher can be easily accessed.
These are the major processes of conducting a home inspection and usually the items on the checklist can be adjusted and enhanced depending on the type of the house to be inspected including the major categories described above.
Usually, tabulated checklist is being used by the inspector during the inspection process and the various technical details are tabulated and categorized. The inspector then looks for possible damages or areas that needed repairs and replacement. After conducting a thorough examination of the house, a detailed report of its present condition will be given to the home owner for possible upgrades and repairs.
More over, aside from the purpose of maintaining the house, a home inspection is usually conducted for the purpose of selling the house so that it will be in almost good condition. The home inspector cannot “fail” the condition of the house nor can determine the value of the property but merely describes the present physical conditions on the various categories for proper action of the home owner.
It is very imperative that a professional home inspector will be hired to conduct the inspection so that the level of competency when it comes to the inspection of the technical details of a house will be precisely and correctly undertaken. This is to ensure the reliability of the findings so that correct repairs and upgrades can be made. Since a house (or a shelter) served as one of our basic needs, being aware of its deterioration, damages, and possible upgrades and repairs will consequently bring peace of mind and worry- free living. The different aspects of home improvement usually includes the examination of the house’s foundation, flooring, soil, exterior windows, walls, and doors, interior finishes, electrical system, plumbing, built-in appliances and systems, heating and air-conditioning systems, pool, spa, and sauna, pests and other environmental hazards, and garages. Several countries now practice the process of conducting a professional home inspection such as the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
Conducting a home inspection is very vital in maintaining the good condition of the house since the physical aspects is being described; possible repairs, upgrades and replacement can be performed. It is also important if the house is to be sold. In the US and in Canada, the contract of purchasing a house will not be valid unless a home inspection has been conducted by a licensed professional home inspector. The purpose of which is to determine the present physical conditions so that necessary actions can be done. The objectives of home inspection speak for itself, the process of examining the different categories requires professional skills and knowledge, certain requirements are required to obtain a license such as the completion of approved training courses and/ or to pass an examination on the technical side, unfavorable results may arise if conducted by unqualified personnel.