While home inspectors aren’t interested in a property’s “curb appeal” or whether the paint job is emerald green, shocking pink, or colonial blue, they will pay a great deal of attention to the home’s exterior. As a home-shopper, it can be easy to be overwhelmed by a home’s striking aesthetic appeal. That’s why it’s important to hire a certified home inspector, like those at A-Pro, to look beyond the glitter for defects that need to be addressed. What may look perfect to you may be anything but to someone who’s experienced at making sure their clients get a deeper evaluation of the home—not just a cursory assessment.
Here are some of the parts of the exterior portion of a home inspection, along with the common problems that have been reported on by the team at A-Pro Home Inspection over 28 years of performing complete foundation-to-roof inspections.
Grade: One of the most important parts of an exterior inspection is checking to see if the soil is graded in a manner that lets rainwater drain away from the foundation of a home. In worst case scenarios, the inspector will cite negatively graded ground that allows water to flow toward the home. Water pooling around the house can lead to foundational damage, basement flooding, and other issues.
Windows: Your inspector will check for exterior window gaps that enable moisture to get inside, untreated air to get in, and treated air to escape; lack of weather-stripping or failed weather-stripping; wood rot; lack of window flashing or poorly installed flashing; cracked glass; and failed seals that result in condensation between double panes. Your inspector will also examine (and operate) windows once inside the house.
Doors: Like leaky windows, gaps in an exterior door can wreak havoc with a homeowner’s ability to control indoor temperatures and keep utility costs down. In addition to checking for poorly sealed doors, the inspector may find physical damage to the door from the outside. Additional checks will be done to the door once inside, such as inspecting the floor beyond the door for moisture. Driveways: The inspector will visually inspect asphalt and concrete driveways for crumbling pavement and cracks that present tripping hazards. In most cases, these defects will get progressively worse if not fixed. Driveways or walkways with negative grade will also be noted in the report, as this condition, like negative soil grade, can lead to basement flooding and expedited deterioration of the foundation.
Detached Garages: While home inspectors generally do not inspect outbuildings (e.g., toolsheds), detached garages and carports are included in a traditional home inspection. The inspector may find a garage door that is non-functional (including its automatic reverse safety feature); exterior damage to the garage door; deteriorating walls; cracked and broken floor; damage to the garage roof covering and signs of leakage; broken garage windows; defective gutters and downspouts; a non-fire-rated interior door; and more.
Siding: Whether made from brick, stone, vinyl, aluminum, composite material, metal, fiber cement, or natural wood, a home’s siding—critically important to prevent moisture penetration and the costly structural damage that results—will undergo a thorough visual assessment. Defects include missing and loose panels, use of improper fasteners based on the type of siding, wood rot, evidence of mold, impact damage, and age- and weather-related deterioration.
Roof: The roof portion of the exterior inspection includes checking the condition of the roof covering for defects such as missing or loose pieces; amateurish repairs; missing, damaged, or poorly installed chimney flashing; unsealed gaps around roof penetrations, such as vents; rotting soffit; roof sagging; and other problems. A check of the attic will often corroborate issues (e.g., leaking) that are found during the exterior portion of the roof inspection.
Vegetation: Your inspector will report on trees and bushes that pose a threat to the structure: overhanging branches that could cause damage, branches that are actually touching the house, shrubs that don’t have proper clearance from siding (if touching, they can cause moisture damage or lead to insect infestations), ivy climbing up walls and the chimney, moss on the roof, trees interfering with the service drop, and roots that are pushing up walkways and driveways. Evidence that roots have penetrated the main sewer line will require a Sewer Scope Inspection, which is an added service beyond the traditional inspection.
Other Checks: The exterior inspection will also include a look at the condition of the porch, deck, foundation, venting, service drops, chimney, front steps, and hazardous lighting, all of which we’ll cover in next week’s blog post.