Chances are likely that this is one of those events that you won’t do many times! I meet homeowners everyday who tell me that this is the first home that they are buying and that they simply don't know where to begin the process! I like to hear that, simply because it means they are open to what I have to say. They can take the information I give them and allow it to sink in. When they turn around and sell the same house in 5-10 years, it will be in excellent condition if they followed all of the advice!
We operate a little different than most inspection companies. This is not a hobby, or a part time business. This is a company designed to perform the best inspection, every time, no matter where we are located or who the inspection is for. To put it simply, we have a system.
Arrival and Walk Around - Traffic notwithstanding (because in Birmingham, ya just never know!), we will arrive 5-10 minutes early and begin to walk the property. We do this because the inspection has to consist of two levels of analysis: macro and micro. When you are up close and personal with every system, but you never take the time to step back and see the bigger picture, you can miss things that are as clear as day, but that you never took the time to observe.
Let me give you an example. Let’s say that I’m walking the roof and the shingles are in really good shape. I might determine then that the roof as a whole is good to go! I walked it, just like you’d like me to do, and took a half dozen pictures (two things most inspectors won’t) and then told you all about it! You’re happy and I’m happy. But what if the problem wasn’t the shingles? What is there was a massive crater or sagging that I couldn’t tell as I walked it, but someone could only see if they backed waaaaaay back and looked at the house from far off? These things happen.
Exterior - In the majority of cases, we begin on the outside of the home and complete this portion of the inspection first. Why? Well, if you were to inspect a box, from top to bottom, you’d probably take a look at the outside before you would the inside right? Let’s see what it looks like on the outside, and that may provide clues as to what it looks like on the inside as well.
Now, I say the majority of cases, because there are times when it’s more beneficial to start on the inside. Take for example a massive downpour of rain...I think I’ll start on the inside then. Or what about starting an inspection at the peak of the day when the sun is overhead? I might start inside then too. What if the homeowner asks me to start inside first since they will only be gone for an hour? (I run into those types as well).
But assuming we begin on the outside, I will end up walking full laps around the house multiple times (because I have to get my 10,000 steps in, of course) because things are seen the second or third lap that may not have been seen the first time around. The outside of the house covers everything that you can see: windows, doors, siding, flashing, trim, shingles, soffit, fascia, eaves, grading, slope, drainage, lights, gutters, driveway, vegetation, etc.
Interior - Upon moving to the inside, we now have a broad picture of the way things look. If there was a leak on the outside, we know what room that it is coming from. If the drainage was bad on one side of the house, we know to look a bit harder in the rooms on that side of the house. The inside portion considers all of the following: lights, rooms, floors, walls, ceilings, doors, windows, selected appliances (installed appliances like stove, dishwasher, etc), ceiling fans, fireplace, flue, kitchen appliances, toilets, sinks, showers, etc. In the same way that we leave no stone unturned on the outside, neither do we on the inside.
Crawlspace, Basement, Garage, Attic and Big Systems - These are the places and systems that make the biggest difference. How many people go into the attic or crawlspace on a regular basis? Pretty much nobody, ever. Not surprisingly then, these places tend to have the majority of problems! Beyond these places, the electrical panel and wiring, the HVAC unit (heating and cooling) and the water heater are the biggest systems of the home that can be problematic. These are thoroughly covered with recommendations if problems are present.
Do you have to be present for the home inspection? This is a common question. The answer is no, but it is always recommended. If you want to have an inspection performed on Monday, and we collectively decided that the time 2pm - 4pm is best, then during that period of time you can bet that we will be there. If you don’t want to be there for 2 hours, and I wouldn’t blame you, come around 3:30pm or so and we will be wrapping up around then with just a few more things to go. The benefit is that you get to still see everything that we saw, have all questions answered, and walk away feeling confident about the buying process.
Wrap Up - After everything is covered, we will walk through everything we saw with you and ensure that you have no questions (zero, zilch, none…) left. We will then lock the house up, jump into the truck, and build the report in most cases, right on the spot. You’ll get an email shortly thereafter with your report. And just like that, you’ve survived the home inspection process! Congratulations!
You know where to find me if any questions remain!
Soli Deo Gloria,
Spencer Brothers, CPI
Sterling Home Inspection, LLC