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A Residential Home Inspection is a visual inspection of the home normally initiated by the potential buyer in real estate transaction. However, a residential home inspection can also be initiated by the seller or sought by the current home owner. The inspection looks at the major components of the home and identifies potential defects and makes recommendations for further evaluation, follow-up. The major working systems/components of a home include the roof, attic, the electrical system, the plumbing system, HVAC system, basement/foundation, the interior and exterior, landscaping, and garage if present. Although normally identified as a non-scope item, a residential home inspection could also include ancillary features, like pools, retaining walls, and large out-buildings. 

The home inspection is normally two-to-four hours in duration and most inspectors provide a period after the inspection (or during) to walk-thru the home pin-pointing defects the inspector found, and allowing the real estate agent and client to ask questions. A home inspection report is normally provided same or next-day. The report details the findings of the inspection and makes recommendations for further follow-up. 

Tips For Home Owners.


Tips For Home Owners:
  • Main Water Shut-Off. Become friends with your water main shut-off, which is normally located in the basement near the water heater or is in the meter box, outside the home, near the street curb.  The valve to shut the water off will most likely require a shut-off key, which can be purchased at a hardware store, Home Depot, Lowes, or Menards.  It is very important to learn how to do this incase of pipe bursts, or you need to do major plumbing repairs to the home. 

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Open Water Main Meter Box

Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC)

Tips For Home Owners:
  • Replace the AC Filters. This should be done every 45 to 90 days.  The replacement of filters keeps the air more free from air-borne particulates; but also, ensures the system is functioning efficiently, reducing energy costs and increasing the useful service life of the unit. 

  • Keep an Eye on the Duct Work.  The condition of the duct work is very important. Shoddy or leaking duct work can cause system inefficiencies and increase energy costs, decreasing service life. Inspect the ductwork throughout the house and basement.  Get up in the attic and inspect those ducts every year (be safe though doing it though) -- look for holes or cracks that could be leaking air.  However, we as home owners and even home inspectors can't see the microscopic holes or smaller flaw in the system that modern day equipment can detect. So an HVAC company can be hired to provide a baseline evaluation. 

Typical Air Conditioner Unit


Tips For Home Owners:
  • GFCI Safety. For safety purposes, check to ensure your home is up to code with GFCI technology. These circuits should be located in all wet areas and /or rooms with running water. This includes laundry rooms, kitchens, garages, and exteriors. The purpose of GFCI technology is to increase safety by automatically shutting off the electrical current from a circuit whenever it detects that the circuit has become a shock hazard. Almost all newer homes have this technology already installed as it's now required; however, we often see older homes that are not GFCI protected or lack the GFCI protection in certain areas of the home. 

Performing a GFCI test on a home in Oakland, California.


Tips For Home Owners:
  • Roofing Inspection. Since the roof is such a large and expensive component of home ownership, it is crucial to keep up with roofing maintenance in order to get the most service life from the roof as possible. The homeowner can walk around the home or get on the roof in order to look for defects associated with the roof, which could include damaged/sagging and/or clogged gutters, asphalt shingle granules in the gutters, damaged or deteriorating flashing, broken or missing shingles, and the presence of organics such as mold, moss, and mildew. Any of these items could be a clue to a deteriorating roof or one in need of repair. 


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Worn out roof vent pipe

Interior and Exterior 

Tips For Home Owners:
  • Behind Your Walls. Within the wall of your new home are system components for HVAC, water, sewer, and electricity. This includes pipes, ductwork, wires, and cables which are hidden behind the walls. These features can be damages by drilling or cutting into the wall during a home renovation project. Therefore, prior to dusting off the ol' Bosch (or better yet Milwaukee), a stud sensor / wall scanner should be used to detect wooden studs, cables, ductwork, and pipes behind the walls. Keep in mind these products are not 100 percent accurate and range in price. An owner can pick up a cheap unit at Home Depot for under $20. 

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