What Is A Home Inspection?

A home inspection is a visual examination of a property, carried out by a qualified professional with the intention of identifying any problems or deficiencies in the systems or the structure of the house. An inspection is non-invasive, so the inspector will not remove tiles or cut into walls.

This appears, at first glance, to be simple enough, but there are a lot of misunderstandings about the process, what inspectors do and do not look at, and what the report will tell you. Are you confident you know everything you need to? Read on to find out what you do and don’t know about home inspections.

What Does A Home Inspector Check?

There is not enough room here to tell you in detail, everything a home inspector will check. However, the following is a list of the things you can generally expect to be included.

Exterior Checks

A home inspection will usually begin with an external examination of the property. The inspector will look at:


The home inspector will take a look around the grounds of the property, taking note of any potential issues with overhanging foliage, roots, pathways, driveways, etc.

Retaining walls and other hard landscaping will be assessed for integrity as well as any patio or deck and associated railings and supports.


The earth around your property should slope from the building in order divert water away from the house. If the grade is not correct, then moisture can pool and get into the house causing damage.


While the foundation is not usually visible, the inspector will look for evidence of foundation problems such as settling.


The home inspector will look at the general structure of the building. They will check the walls are intact, window and door frames are in good condition, square, and free from apparent defects.

Outside pipework will be reviewed. A particular emphasis is on the places where the pipes enter or exit the structure of the house. Also important are where pipes, venting, drains or other areas where the structure is breached.

The inspector will look at the paint, brickwork, stonework and/or siding. They will check for cracks, dents, flaking, and any other damage. They will also ensure there is a minimum of six inches between the wall and any earth in order to avoid water damage.


Roofs will be checked for any damage, for loose or incorrectly installed shingles, and flashing issues. The gutters, downspouts, roof vents, and any skylights will also be inspected for problems as will the chimney.

If the roof has a shallow pitch or is no more than three floors up the inspector may climb up and walk around. In the case of steeper roofs, those higher than three stories, or bad weather the inspector will not take any risks with their health and safety.

Even without a “hands-on” inspection, the home inspector can use an infrared camera to determine if there are any areas where heat is escaping. This can indicate problems with the roof or with the insulation in the attic.

Garage / Carport / Outbuildings

All outbuildings that are physically connected to the house, as well as the garage, will be reviewed. The inspector will check to see if the garage is correctly vented and any visible framing is in good condition. For attached garages, they will also check the correct fire break insulation is installed.

Interior Checks

It is important to understand that a home inspector will not move furniture in order to gain access to areas of the house. Neither will they be able to inspect items such as pipework, HVAC, and electrical that are in the wall or ceiling.

The general internal inspection will include checking that the walls are straight and there are no issues around leaning or sagging etc. Door and window frames will be viewed to ensure they are square, well installed and free from damage.


Facets, toilets, and showerheads will be inspected for any obvious damage, visible leaks, and evidence of previous leaks. Water pressure will be checked at various points around the home. In addition, the speed of drainage in the sinks, baths, and showers will be tested

If the pipework is obviously damaged or old the inspector may give a rough estimate of the work required. They may also be able to give you an idea of cost. However, if there are serious concerns, the inspector is more likely to recommend a specialist plumbing inspection.

Water Heater

A home inspector will look at the hot water heater to see if it is correctly installed and secured. They will estimate the age of the heater and whether or not there are any obvious problems that may necessitate repair or replacement in the near future.

HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning)

The inspector will look at the visible ducting and report on the general condition. They will highlight any visible evidence of leaks or damage. The level of insulation in the home will be noted. You will be alerted to the possible or actual presence of any asbestos. However, this will only happen if the inspector sees any signs of it. A report that does not mention asbestos does not mean the home is 100% free from it.

An estimate of the age of the furnace and any AC units will be made. In addition, a general note will be recorded of any obvious issues around maintenance, compliance with building codes, etc.

The number and position of heating vents, A/C, or radiators, in each room, will be noted. If there are potential issues around positioning or an inadequate number of vents etc, the home inspector will mention it in the report.


The type and approximate age of the wiring will be noted. Then the home inspector will test the electrical outlets making sure the ground fault interrupters are fully functional. Electrical panels will be checked for safety, as long as they are accessible. Light switches will be tested and a note will be made of how many outlets are in each room.

Fire Safety

Any fire alarms will be tested along with the venting system in the laundry room which can be a significant fire hazard if not correctly installed and maintained.

Room Specific Checks

As you might imagine particular attention will be paid to some rooms in the house. Those that rely on the systems of the home to function correctly. For this reason, there are additional checks in these rooms:


The home inspector will check the kitchen is well ventilated. Special attention will be paid to ensure any hood fan is correctly installed and vented to the outside. They will also perform a cursory check on cabinet doors and drawers to ensure they are sound and work correctly.

Under the sink will be inspected for leaks. The inspector will ensure electrical outlets within six feet of a water source are fitted with the appropriate safety features.

Bathroom ventilation will be checked to ensure there is enough air flow to prevent a build-up of moisture and subsequent mold or mildew issues. High moisture levels can also warp cabinetry over time as well as affect any decorative finishes.

The inspector will ensure that there are no obvious safety or building code violations, such as light switches or plug sockets in close proximity to water sources and that the toilet is secure, properly installed and the flush works correctly.

What a Home Inspection Doesn’t Cover.

In some ways, it’s more important to know what a home inspection doesn’t cover than to know what it does. Most people assume inspections will tell them about any issue or potential issue with the property in question. This is just not true.

Home inspectors are generalists who check for obvious problems or clues to possible problems.


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