What Does a Home Inspector Look For?

By Published On: October 11th, 2022Categories: Home Inspection Career Guide0 Comments

What Exactly Does a Home Inspector Do? – A Guide for Prospective Home Inspectors  

 

When a home is under contract, a prospective homebuyer usually hires a home inspector to complete a home inspection. Whether it’s a new home or an older home being inspected, a home inspector checks for major safety issues and that all flaws are noted in the home inspection report. 

For a homeowner looking to sell their property, a home inspection gives them the chance to repair any glaring problems before they list their home on the market.  

As a home inspector, you’ll need to be knowledgeable of all factors involved in the condition of the home, from structural to systematic and beyond, ensuring that any issues or damage you find is noted in a report.  

 

The Most Common Things Home Inspectors Look for During Inspections

A home inspector performs a visual examination of a home once the seller accepts a potential buyer’s offer. This means if a home has major issues, the buyer might be able to negotiate a lower sale price or ask the seller to make necessary repairs before continuing with the purchase. 

Because this is such an important step in the home buying process, it’s important that a home inspector is familiar with all the red flags they might come across in their walk-through. Here are some of the most common issues to be aware of and how to find them. 

Water Damage 

Water damage isn’t only one of the most common issues that comes up in an inspection, it can also be a sign of a bigger problem. It can be caused by the following issues:
 

  • Pipe leak 
  • Sewage leak 
  • Damaged roof 
  • Clogged or damaged rain gutters
  • Drainage and slope issues 

In the worst-case scenario, leaks can be caused by foundational issues in the home. Around sixty percent of homes in the United States rest on shifting or expansive earth, meaning the foundation of the home can crack over time. This can cause leaks, roofing issues, and more. 

Water damage can be an expensive and difficult issue to fix, so while looking for signs of damage on the property, it’s important to pay special attention to these problem areas. You’ll be able to spot water damage by cracking or flaking infrastructure, dark spots or rings on the ceiling, and sometimes even a foul smell.
 

Mold 

 Mold is often a consequence of water damage or leaks left unchecked. Make sure when you’re checking pipes and plumbing for leaks that there is no existing mold—if it’s there, there’s a problem. 

AHIT offers mold inspection courses so you can get certified in mold inspection. It’s a common problem you’ll run across in your inspections, so it’s a useful add-on that will set you apart from your competitors. 

Mold can be found in any dark or damp area of the home, and sometimes, it’s odorless so it goes undetected. 

Electrical Issues 

Other common, and often dangerous, issues you’ll need to look out for are electrical. According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFi), in the United States, electrical problems like faulty wiring are the cause of approximately 51,000 house fires per year. 

Some tell-tale signs of electrical problems include strange buzzing from a source of power (like an outlet), dim or flickering lights, and defective outlets and switches. 

The following are some common issues with electrical systems you might find: 

  • Fraying insulation
  • Over-fusing 
  • Mismatched wires 
  • Outdated wiring/outlets 

Fire Safety and Carbon Monoxide Detection 

An equally critical area to check is that the home is fire-safe. The biggest area of concern outside of insulation and electrical systems is, of course, the fire detector. The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) has a list of standards for smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. One of the most important features of the detectors is their location, and of course, making sure they are up to date.  

Plumbing Problems 

While some plumbing problems can be as simple as a leaky faucet, others can cause major issues in a home. Here are some areas in the home that you’ll need to check out to ensure that no pipes are old or defective, the water pressure is working correctly, and sewer lines are not clogged:

  • Interior plumbing 
  • Faucets 
  • Drainage systems 
  • Toilets 
  • Sink disposal 

This includes checking appliances like washing machines, dishwashers, and sump pumps to ensure that there are no cross-connection issues. 

Roofing Issues 

Roofing issues in a home can negatively impact a home’s structural integrity, insulation, and can cause leaks (to name just a few). Here are some of the major concerns with roofing that you’ll learn to look out for:

  • Loose, damaged, or missing shingles 
  • Damaged gutters 
  • Mold/mildew 
  • Rust 
  • Damaged, neglected, or animal infested chimney 
  • Sagging roof 

Older homes are more likely to have structural issues like these. Understanding the ways that a home ages and deteriorates with time as well as its environment will give you helpful clues for what to look for. 

Other Common Issues 

 Of course, these are only a few of the most common problems you’ll come across during the home inspection. The following are also typical areas that need a close eye from a professional inspector:  

  • Air conditioning 
  • Heating 
  • Termites and other pest infestations 
  • Asbestos 
  • Radon 
  • Lead paint 
  • Water heater
     

Writing the Report 

At the end of the home inspection process, you’ll have to write up your findings in a home inspection report. There are certain Standards of Practice and a Code of Ethics published by the American Society of Home Inspection (ASHI) that both cover exactly what should be on your home inspection checklist and included in your report. In your training with AHIT, you’ll learn all about these standards and how to apply them in your own inspection process. You’ll also be trained to use a home inspection report software, a special tool to guide you as you write your reports. 

This report will then be shared with your client (in most cases, the buyer) so you can go through the findings with them and what it means for the state of the home and any work that might need to be done down the line. First-time homebuyers may be nervous to hear a list of things that need fixing, so it’s good to remind them that no home is perfect, and if they have any major issues, they can communicate with their agent about next steps. Sometimes this is a great opening for them to negotiate the sell price of a home, or possibly have the seller help with necessary repairs.  

As an inspector, you want to help your clients feel like their problems are manageable. Every problem has a solution—finding the problem is just the first step. 

 

Anyone Can Become a Home Inspector 

If you’re ready to begin courses and learn everything there is to know about becoming a professional home inspector, you’re in the right place. AHIT makes learning the ins and outs of home inspection easy, fun, and accessible. We offer many different specialized courses for licensing, certification, and beyond.  

Check out your state licensing requirements to get the wheels turning. If you want to talk to someone who has been in your shoes, feel free to give our career advisors a call at 855.494.1870 or send us an email at ahit@theceshop.com  

About the Author: Lizzie DesRosiers

Lizzie DesRosiers is a Content Specialist with AHIT and The CE Shop. She is an expert in home inspection, appraisal, and real estate. Along with bringing her knowledge of the field to each piece, she prides herself on sharing information that is thoroughly researched and easy to absorb.

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