Washington's Best Real Estate Education

Online Clock Hours for Washington Brokers

Start Now – use this link to return to the course catalog

Benefits of a Professional Home Inspection – Syllabus

A professional home inspection reduces the potential for an agents exposure to non-disclosure liability. Many buyers do not know what to look for or how to identify real or potential problems within a property. They need a professional, objective assessment of the condition of a home to accurately establish the market value and identify necessary costs of repair. A seller benefits by avoiding potential non-disclosure liability when the buyer relies on the third party home inspector.

 

Obligations and benefits List the benefits of home inspection
Inspecting the site Analyze the pros and cons of the building site
Inspecting the structure Evaluate the structural components
The foundation Identify the structural composition
Roof construction and finishing Evaluate the roof’s components noting any structural issues
Ceilings and attics Describe the ceiling and attic structure noting pros and cons
Water supply and delivery Evaluate the well’s location for potable water
Bathroom and septic Detail home wastewater discharge into the drain field
Electrical distribution Explain the home’s electrical capability
Electrical entry Describe the main electrical panel and the service entry
Heating types Evaluates the heating system components
Cooling types Analyzes aspects and proper working order of the cooling system
Keeping it cool or warm Inspects the amount and type of insulation noting any deficiencies
Floor elements Examine the physical integrity of the floor composition
Wall elements Inspect the interior walls and check for correct angles
Exterior elements Evaluate siding components and any anomaly(ies)
Foundations/basements/walls Evaluate all components for proper installation and fit
General inspection Examine both exterior and interior for condition
Windows, walls, siding Describe conditions found and any problems if found
Wall Assemblies

Sample of Course Content

Home inspection defined

A qualified home inspector determines the condition of the component parts of a home:

  •  electrical plumbing heating and air conditioning
  • insulation and ventilation
  • exterior
  • interior
  • structure

Each of these elements will be discussed in detail throughout the course.

What does the home inspector look for?

 A home inspector may address environmental concerns that can include radon, termites or other damaging insects, formaldehyde, lead paint, asbestos, and/or mold.

The home inspector looks for deterioration of any components and any deterioration that may affect other components. For example, structural water damage from leaking pipes or a wind-damaged roof that if left unrepaired could lead to interior damage.

A home inspector checks the home and site for conditions that may lead to significant damage to the home.  For example, poor site drainage that could lead to a water-damaged foundation.

 The Home Inspection Report

 The inspector provides a detailed, itemized Home Inspection Report describing the findings. It may be in different forms.

It can be a checklist, a rating system, a narrative, or a narrative combined with either of the other types of report. A checklist is usually used during the inspection, even if a different type of final report is delivered.The inspection checklist ensures each of the important home systems is inspected, and enumerates the checks to be performed on each of them and the results. This provides the basis for the final report.

The checklist is divided into sections:

  • the property
  • the structure (exterior and interior)
  • roofing and siding
  • interior walls
  • insulation
  • flooring
  • heating and air conditioning
  • electrical
  • plumbing
  • anything else the homeowner requires, providing the inspector agrees and is qualified

Home inspectors report problems, damage, or non-functioning systems. They do not make home repairs.

Site inspection

The site inspection begins a home inspection. The inspector examines the site for slope and grade, types of soil, drainage, walkways, patios, steps, driveways, retaining walls, and trees and vegetation. The inspector examines the site for threats to the physical integrity of the structure and the physical exterior. The exterior serves as the protective barrier against moisture and weather elements.

The inspector notes whether the property is flat, hilly, mountainous or in a valley. The house site, as located on the property, is considered in regard to a grade sloping down and away from the structure.

A grade sloping down and away from the structure is very important to drain water away from the exterior and foundation, and maintain a dry, compacted soil condition under and around the foundation.

Water that drains toward the structure may infiltrate the soil around and under the house causing foundations to become unsettled. When soil water pressure compromises the foundation and the soil it rests on, resulting soil and foundation movement can cause structural damage to the walls, both in the interior and exterior.

Where significant water infiltrates soil, homes with basements may experience water penetration through basement walls, which can cause interior damage. If the soil water pressure becomes severe enough, it can cause basement walls to crack and buckle, further compromising the normal water protection barriers.

Soil erosion caused by water flowing across unprotected soil can also damage the intended drainage pattern, compromising foundations. To avoid eroding the soil around the house, significant water flows need to be directed away from the house and foundation. Gutters and downspouts need to direct water away from the house and foundation. The inspector should also check for splash blocks or gutter drains.

The inspector notes standing puddles, damp ground or barren, dried and cracked soil as an indication of previous standing water. The inspector should also note the types of soil.

Soils that expand and contract, such as clays, can contribute to foundation movement problems. Other soils, such as sandy soils, pose less of a water problem if properly compacted. When some soil remains dry and stabile, other wet, unstable soil can create an unbalanced pressure against the foundation, potentially causing foundation cracks and movement.

Improper fill, or backfill as it is commonly called, can also present a basic foundation problem. Backfilling occurs when contractors need to add soil to level the house pad area in order to build, or to assure a proper grade level sloping away from the house. Frequently, backfilling occurs where concrete basement walls or foundations have been poured.

If the backfill is not adequately compacted, or not allowed to fully settle, water may invade the loose soil turning it into dense, heavy, fluid slurry capable of exerting substantial pressure against foundations or basement walls. This condition can go undetected until severe weather results in water being diverted to the backfilled soil.

Backfill can also settle over time, eventually creating low areas near the house. Water that had previously drained away from the house may suddenly flow to these areas causing substantial damage.

The inspector notes the condition of patios, walkways, driveways, concrete steps, and slabs and retaining walls.

Exterior steps and walkways are checked for cracks and unevenness that may be due to either fill settling, or to expansion and contraction of the soil.

  • Concrete driveways are checked for cracks due to inadequate expansion joints or soil conditions.

Asphalt driveways, being more flexible, are checked for cracks, soft spots, thinning, settling, and fill sink aging.

Patios are checked for cracks and unevenness that that may result in tripping hazards.

Retaining walls are checked for cracks, leaning, tilting, shifting, signs of improper construction, settling or shifting soil, and water retention. Sloping grades, drains or weep holes should be evident that keep water pressure from building up behind the walls.

The inspector notes trees and vegetation near the structure and the resulting exterior condition. Trees can pose hazards when severe winds topple them or break limbs that may fall on the structure.

Excessive vegetation, such as overgrown shrubs, can block drying air movement and sunlight, trapping moisture against the structure. Rot, mildew, mold, and fungus can then develop undetected until noticeable exterior damage occurs. Frequently a thin veneer of painted surface is the last part of wood to remain after the rest has rotted away.

The inspector may include environmental checks, such as for wetlands. Wetlands are transitional areas where water is present for a period long enough to form distinct soils that can grow specialized “water loving” plants. Wetlands include bogs, marshes, and swamps. Site wetlands can significantly impact allowable construction. Wetlands receive legal treatment that requires protection from construction damage.