What's Evaluated in a General Home Inspection?

Posted on

A general home inspection is typically required by buyers and their lenders prior to closing escrow. A licensed home inspector will visually inspect your home, evaluating a long list of items. Read on to find out what the inspector will be looking for!

During a general inspection, your buyer's inspector will typically evaluate the following areas:

  • Interior:
    Walls, ceilings, floors, doors, windows, staircases, railings and fireplace ventilation
  • Exterior:
    Foundation, frame, siding, porches, balconies, chimneys, walkways and driveways
  • Roof:
    Shingles, gutters and any skylights
  • Plumbing:
    Pipes, drains, pumps, and water heaters
  • Electric:
    Service panels, breakers and any fuses
  • Heating and cooling:
    Equipment and ventilation
  • Unfinished spaces:
    Insulation and ventilation in the attic and basement

General inspections are visual only. That means the inspector is not allowed to break open walls or dig into yards. Because of this, inspectors do not inspect the following areas:

  • Interior:
    Kitchen and laundry room appliances, central vacuum systems, fire and smoke alarms, intruder alarm systems
  • Exterior:
    Detached garages, sheds, wells, swimming pools, hot tubs and sprinkler systems
  • Roof:
    Television antennae, satellite dishes
  • Hidden:
    Pipes and electrical wires that are underground or behind a wall
  • Environmental hazards:
    Radon, asbestos or lead may be inspected separately by specially trained inspectors
  • Pests:
    Termite and other pests may be inspected separately by specially trained inspectors

Request for Repairs Process:

The home inspector typically finds many items, even in new construction, that are not up to best construction practices. The inspection may also show that older homes are not up to modern construction codes. Sellers often feel that most items on the inspector's suggested "Fix It" list are unnecessary. Buyers often feel the opposite, and they insist that the items on the list should all be remedied prior to the close of escrow.

Luckily, all the things that come up during an inspection are negotiable during the request for repair process. But who usually “wins”? The outcome is often dictated by who has leverage based on the state of the market. In a seller's market, sellers will often make only a handful of repairs - or they may refuse all the repairs. In a buyer's market, the reverse is true.

Limitations of the General Home Inspection:

The General Inspection Report often reference areas that are outside of the inspector's expertise. For example, it is common to see items such as:

  • Recommend a licensed roofer be contacted to examine the roof
  • Examination of the dishwasher is beyond the scope of this inspection
  • Recommend a licensed electrician to examine the electrical panel

The buyer schedules and pays for additional inspections if they decide any issue outlined on their general home inspection report is important enough to merit additional evaluation prior to agreeing to proceed with the sale.

Savvy Sellers Inspect Before Listing:

Savvy sellers conduct their general home inspection prior to listing their home or before entertaining offers. By doing so, the sellers have time to make any repairs they feel are necessary. Sellers can also make the inspection report available to potential buyers and note that they have already fixed all the items they are willing to fix. By doing so, buyers will be prompted to consider the cost of any additional repairs they feel are necessary and factor that cost into their offer price.

Have questions about home inspections? Ask us!

Interested in buying or selling?

We've improved the traditional real estate model with modern technology to cut costs, not quality.

Get started today