Types of Inspections

Roof leaks, dangerous electrical work, leaking or compromised duct work and missing insulation are just a few of the issues often observed while inspecting in the attic. Every home inspection is performed in a systematic way to help us uncover problems that may exist. Problems in construction typically have a domino effect that leads us to other areas of concern in the home.

While in the attic we will look for potential moisture stains on the sheathing of the roof that would indicate a previous or an active roof leak.  It is likely that we may have already noted these areas of potential concerns from performing the roof inspection before we even entered the attic area.  We will do our best to identify the problem from both the exterior of the roof as well as in the attic.

The trusses will be evaluated to verify that the intended structural integrity has not been compromised.  The most common issue we come across is when new Air Handlers are installed in the attic.  HVAC companies will often cut trusses to install the new air handler in a location that they desire.  We also observe roof leaks that have rotted out the structural integrity of the trusses as well.

The insulation will be evaluated and we will do our best to indicate missing or displaced areas of insulation.  It is rare, but we have observed multiple homes in which they entire home was improperly insulated.  It is our desire to protect you from any unforeseen expenses and improper insulation could lead to wasted energy bills not to mention the cost to add additional insulation.  It is also important that the insulation is not plugging up the soffit vents which will restrict air flow in the attic.  Poor air flow will decrease the energy efficiency, it will often also compromise the roof covering as well as create an environment for potential mold growth. 

Occasionally the plumbing might be visible in the attic area.  Much of the time it is covered by insulation and in older homes it can be under the concrete flooring.  We will do our best to inspect the visible portions of the plumbing and identify the type of material used as well as its condition.

The ductwork is inspected while we are in the attic.  We are not only evaluating the condition of the duct work, but we are also looking for areas in which the duct work may be hanging over the trusses and obstructing air flow. We are looking for areas in which the duct work may be leaking or even torn and disconnected.  The evaluation we perform in the attic will give us better perspective as we inspect the air supply in each room of the house.

Portions of the electrical wires can sometimes be visible during the attic inspection.  The portions that are not visible are typically because they are covered by insulation.  It is not uncommon to observe handyman electrical work that can often result in safety hazards.  We see improper splicing of wires and open electrical junction boxes on a regular basis.  Older cloth wiring often breaks down and can become compromised in time. We also see newer homes in which the romex electrical wires become damaged due to rodent infestation in the attic as they often chew on these wires.  We will simply report on the electrical wires that were visible at the time of the home inspection.

There are often limitations when performing the attic inspection.  Sometimes the pitch is too low to enter any part of the attic at all.  Other times we are heavily obstructed due to the design of the duct work and the mechanics installed the attic as well as stored personal belongings.  We will do the best we can based on the access we are given on every job we perform.

Living Area




Laundry Room

The very grounds that surround the home can also have implications on the structure of the home.

Service Walk and Drive Ways:
Sidewalks and Driveways are carefully inspected to assure that they are pitched away from the home.  This is carefully observed to help prevent moisture from building up near and around the foundation of the home.  It is also not uncommon to see portions of the driveway damaged from tree roots or other factors. It is difficult to repair spalling concrete driveways as the new concrete does not adhere well to the old.  We often recommend those sections of the driveway be replaced.

Patios and Screened in Lanai:
We will inspect damaged patios or compromised pavers.  We will look for improper settlement which can also cause moisture to settle around the foundation of the home.  We will also inspect the screened in enclosure.  We will identify where we observe loose or torn screens.  We will report on the lanai frames condition as screws will often rust out allow the caged frame to become loose. We will identify where loose cable supports need to be further adjusted and secured.  We will identify any major settling cracks in the lanai.

We will inspect the structural integrity of all decking, staircases and risers.  We will verify the proper spacing and stability and balusters.  We will verify the proper connection to the home when it is readily accessible.  We will inspect the wooden columns to ensure the deck is properly secured to the foundation or footings.

Grading and drainage:
We are inspecting for proper drainage that moves water away from the home.  When negative grading exists, there may be a need for additional backfill to create the proper pitch away from the home.  It’s is very important that the grading and the landscaping allow for proper drainage away from the home to prevents moisture from intruding at the base of the foundation.

Water shedding and water ponding:
The water discharging from the roof must be controlled to prevent water from ponding near the foundation of the home.  We will inspect and identify areas that may need to be improved to prevent the potential of any moisture intrusion to the home.  Sometimes this can simply be addressed by adding gutters, cleaning gutters or adding proper gutter extensions away from the home.  Sometimes it may be necessary to build up the grade around the home to help divert the water away from the home. There may also be cases in which adding drain tile will help move the water away from the home.

Retaining Walls:
We will inspect the retaining walls which often fail for a number of reasons which may include the heavy pressure building up behind a wall.  Heavy moisture in the soil content is a major contribution to the failure of these walls.  Improving the water drainage is the key to keeping these walls in proper position.  These walls may need to be rebuilt if proper water drainage is not possible.

Issues that exist outside of the home can often impact what happens inside of the home.

Inspecting the siding or stucco finish is one of the key components to the exterior portion of the home inspection.  A large percentage of homes in Southwest Florida are concrete structures with stucco over the concrete block.  Cracks in the stucco walls of the home are not uncommon, but they can be a cause for significant moisture intrusion if left unattended.   Driving rain can eventually penetrate these cracks and can become a larger moisture issue at the interior of these walls.  We cannot always dictate if a crack is leaking, but we are always observant to these cracks and they should always be properly weather proofed to prevent the potential of future moisture intrusion.  Some cracks that are superficial may need to be weather proofed while others could be indicative to an area that may have settled and could be structurally compromised.  We are not structural engineers and we often refer cracks of significant concern to be further evaluated by a structural engineer.  This will allow the problem to be fully evaluated and a proper course of action can then be taken.

The fascia, soffits, trim and the flashing around the home are also observed from a visible perspective.  Keeping the home moisture tight is a major concern and a priority during the exterior portion of this inspection.  It is not uncommon for a moisture issues to later take place in a home that was not visually apparent at the time of the inspection.  We cannot see behind or in between walls and we are limited to inspecting the home based on the weather conditions at the time of the inspection.  It may be difficult to identify leaks or moisture issues if it had not significantly rained before the home inspection.

Exterior doors and windows are considered the envelope openings of the home.  These openings often leak if not properly maintained.   It is not uncommon for a sprinkler system to hit windows or doors such as the garage service door.  Repeated conditions such as this can often cause damage to the home.  Minimizing these types of repeated conditions as well as properly maintaining the envelope opening will help prevent undesired moisture damage to the home.  We often find that the caulking around exterior windows is compromised and the lack of this maintenance is also a culprit for moisture intrusion.

The inspection of the decks, railings, stairs and risers are significant for the safety of every home owner. Walkways, patios and driveways can often show signs of settlement which can pitch them toward the home and allow water to have a negative grade towards the home.  This can trap water near the foundation which can have a domino effect by allowing moisture to infiltrate the home.

During this exterior inspection, we also evaluate the grading, vegetation and surface drainage as they all have an impact on how secure and weather proof this home will be.  Trees planted to close to the home often have branches that rub on the roof causing premature wear and damage.  The roots can also cause damage to the foundation as well as lifting sidewalks, driveways and patios.

Structural Inspections: Evaluating the Bones of the Home

Many clients ask us how well their home was built.  They want to know if this home will stand strong should we face another large storm.  What they are asking is, how good are the bones of this home?  During our home inspection, we are looking for visual indications that may identify the potential of structural issues in the home.  Compromised footings or foundational failures as well as irregular cracks in the wall structure may warrant our concerns and the recommendation of further evaluations.  In some cases, we will refer you to a structural engineer if needed.  This would be a step taken to be assured of both the problem that has occurred as well as the correct solution for resolving the issue.

During the roof inspection, we are looking for irregular anomalies that will further guide us as we investigate and inspect the trusses from within the attic. When we are in the attic, we are also inspecting the sheathing and identifying any locations in which the roof could be leaking.  It is important to pay close attention to rotted or damaged trusses.  We often see trusses that have been cut or compromised due to the installation of equipment such as an air handler. We are inspecting the trusses for any irregular bowing that could be the result of improper weight load of the roof covering.  These are just a few of the examples of some of the things that we are trying to identifying to assure that the structural integrity of this home is not compromised in anyway.

Do you know the age, condition and the balance of the approximate life expectancy of the roof?

The roof is potentially one of the most expensive replacement items and is something that no buyer should ever be surprised by.  The roof will be inspected with great attention.  The roof inspection is not only inspected from the roof top itself, but will also be evaluated from within the attic as well.  The life expectancy of a roof will vary depending upon the type of roof as well as the pitch of the roof.  The tree coverage and sun exposure will also influence how well the roof wears and how long it will last. 

The roof inspection starts from walking around the home at the ground level and observing all exterior conditions and their possible effects on the roof.  We pay special attention to the valleys of the roof and how the roof is shedding the water.  We also pay close attention to all areas of penetration such as plumbing and roof vents as well as skylights, chimneys and any other areas where components may penetrate the roof and where the flashing can sometimes fail.

A good part of the roof inspection is performed from within the attic.  This is where we can identify actual leaks by the staining that takes place on the sheathing.  We pay close attention to the areas of concern that we identified while on the roof and we further evaluate those specific locations while investigating the condition of this roof from within the attic.  Portions of the attic are typically not observed as limitations exist due to the safety concerns in accessing some areas of the attic. We are inspecting the areas of the attic that we individually consider safe and readily accessible. We obviously never want our inspectors to put their safety in jeopardy, nor do we want to risk damaging the home.

What is under your home can greatly affect everything that is in your home.

The crawl space allows us to observe the structural support of the home.  We will determine the type of foundation and identify any visible concerns we see that might compromise the integrity of the structure.  Each crawlspace will be inspected based on its accessibility.

Many times, insulation is installed under the flooring of the home as observed from the crawlspace.  We will inspect the presence and condition of the insulation and identify where deficiencies may exist.

Much of the ductwork is typically observed from the crawlspace.  We will again identify any deficiencies or possible conditions that could compromise the operations of the air supply to the home.

The plumbing is usually visible in the crawl space area.  The drain lines will be evaluated to verify that they are properly pitched to allow adequate discharging of wastewater.  We will identify the type of water supply lines and will report on the condition as they appeared during the home inspection.  We will indicate whether the water supply lines are properly secured as needed in the crawl space.

The electrical branch wiring is commonly observed in the crawl space area.  It is not uncommon for us to observe compromised wires or improper electrical junctions in the crawl space area.  During this portion of the home inspection we will identify electrical work that was not performed to a professional standard. We want to identify any areas of electrical work that appear compromised or subject to possible safety concerns.

Most plumbing issues are not discovered until the pipes fail while causing up to thousands of dollars in water damages and needless repairs.  

The plumbing system is one of the major pillars of the home inspection.  We will identify the type of pipes used as well as reporting their current condition.  Our desire is to make you aware of how much life expectancy you might anticipate based on the age and condition of the current materials used.  All visible plumbing will be evaluated in either the attic or the crawl space.  We will also inspect and identify on any visible defective products that were used.  Areas of potential concern will be brought to the buyer’s attention.  It is not uncommon to identify copper pipes that are aged, corroded and possibly failing.

Polybutylene pipes were common in the late 80’s and early 90’s and are noted for corroded connections as well as brittle pipes that have caused premature failures and leaks.  PEX Pipes can occasionally have some corrosion at the fittings between the pipe connections.  This product is the latest and most common type of pipe installed on new construction.  We will do our best to empower each home buyer with relevant information in regards to their plumbing in hopes of limiting as many unforeseen surprises as possible.  The water pressure and water drainage will be observed under normal operating procedures to assure there is adequate water flow throughout the home at the time of the inspection.  The plumbing shut off valves and water supply fixtures will be tested.  Corrosion, leaks or other defects will be reported.  The approximate life expectancy of a hot water heater is 10 years.  The age, condition and the performance of the hot water heater will be determined to give you the best realistic expectation of when you might expect to replace this unit. 

Hot water heaters can prematurely fail without any physical evidence of doing so.  Our objective is to simply give you the best information we can, but we are limited to the current conditions and can only report on their performance as it was at the time of the inspection.  (Our observation is done in a three-hour window and conditions and performances can change and we cannot guarantee when those changes could take place.)

Nobody want to be surprised by having to update their HVAC system.  The average cost of replacing a single HVAC system is approximately $4,500 but can vary depending on the size, model and brand of the system.  How can we help protect you from this unexpected potential expense?

Though the home inspection cannot guarantee the HVAC system will not fail in the future, we can test and inspect the system to give you better perspective on its condition and further insight on the balance of the remaining life expectancy.

Due to the cost of the replacement, the heating, venting and air conditioning system is one of the major pillars of this home inspection.  The average life expectancy for an HVAC system is approximately 10 years, but this can vary widely depending on the quality of the equipment and the maintenance that had been performed. We will try to identify the age of both the A/C and the Air Handler as well as reporting on the physical condition of the system as well.  An air temperature differential reading will be taken to identify how well the system was performing at the time of the inspection.  Temperatures will be tested at random registers throughout the home to assure that you are receiving adequate air flow with properly conditioned temperatures. The ductwork will be observed while we are inspecting the attic or crawl space.  We will identify the condition of the duct work while also verifying that it is properly supported.  It is not uncommon to observe leaking or obstructed ductwork that diminishes or limits the intended air flow to the home.  This is not an air quality test and we are not inspecting inside the ductwork or plenum boxes.  It is always a good idea to have the duct work cleaned and serviced as needed to help maximize the quality of the air in the home.  The future failure of an HVAC system cannot always be determined by the home inspection as we are limited to evaluating this system during a two to three-hour window.  Components and mechanics within this system can fail with no real indication or warning.  The cost of repair versus the cost of replacement at that point is always the question and decision in balance.

One of the greatest fire threats to your home is your electrical system.  We sleep good at night knowing we are doing all we can to protect all of those we have had the opportunity to serve.

When is the last time you removed your electrical panel to check for over-heating wires or crawled through the attic to identify dangerous electrical wiring?  Have you ever verified that your outlets were wired correctly?  Our goal is to protect our clients from any potential safety hazards or unforeseen risks related to potential defects in the electrical system.

The electrical system is a major part of this home inspection.  We will first identify the condition of the main electrical service line as it enters the home.  It is important that tree branches as well as other vegetation is not obstructing the power lines.  The service poles should not be bent and the mast head covers should not be rusted or compromised.  We will remove the main electrical panel cover plate so that we may observe the electrical wires as they are fed into the main service panel.   Some examples of the concerns in the main electrical panel are listed below.

*Verifying that there is proper grounding in the electrical panel.
*Identifying where over fusing of the circuit breakers have taken place.
* Report on any indications in which the electrical wires may have over heated in the past.
*Not all circuit breakers are rated for double tapping and we will identify when those conditions exist.

These are just an example of some safety concerns that could arise inside an electrical panel.  Ultimately, our desire is to alert each home buyer of any deficiencies or potential safety concerns that may exist within this electrical system.  We will also inspect the electrical wires that were visible while we were performing our inspections in both the attic and the crawl space.  Compromised wires or indications of handyman electrical wiring will be reported. A representation of outlets will be tested to identify if proper polarity exists as well as to identify outlets that may not be properly grounded.  Each ground fault circuit interrupting outlet will be tested where we do not risk the chance of compromising the current homeowner’s personal belongings.

We are not licensed electricians and this is only a visual inspection.  Some conditions could exist that are outside the scope of our visual home inspection.

Did you budget to replace your appliances?

Buying a home can be stressful and can strap you financially.  The last thing you need is an additional expense due to a defective appliance.

We will inspect appliances under normal operating procedures and describe their performances as observed at the time of this inspection.  The failure of appliances to perform will be reported as well as systems that are considered to be a deferred cost item.  We are not always able to determine exactly how long the appliances will properly operate, so one should be prepared to update appliances that are older than 10 years.  The appliances we inspect are the dishwasher, stove/oven, refrigerator and freezer, garbage disposal, washer, dryer, hot water heater as well as the heating, venting and air conditioning system. Some of the systems not considered to be part of the home inspection are the central vacuum system, security system, irrigation system, landscape lighting and generator systems.