For many families in the market for a home, a garage large enough to easily hold at least two vehicles and all the extras (lawnmower, patio furniture, maybe a couple of kayaks) is a very big deal.
Anyone who has ever been running late for work and had to frantically scrape ice off their car’s windshield understands that an ample-sized garage that provides vehicle protection from the elements is a major plus. Gearheads dream of massive garages to store tools and restoration projects in various states of disrepair. And real estate agents can attest that more than a few viewings don’t make it past square-one because a garage is too small.
But the size of the garage is only the beginning.
If you’re a prospective homebuyer who puts a nice garage on top of your wish list, you’ll be happy to know that certified home inspectors, like those at A-Pro Home Inspection, look far beyond whether the garage can simply accommodate your SUVs and 4 x 4s. In much the same way as the rest of the house is inspected, both attached and detached garages will be carefully examined as part of an A-Pro 500-point, roof-to-foundation inspection.
Here are some of the numerous aspects of a garage that are evaluated by the home inspectors at A-Pro:
Drainage: The inspector will note if the garage’s surface is made from a non-combustible material (e.g., concrete) and is properly sloped for effective drainage. If there is a floor drain, the slope must direct liquid in that direction. The report may also include cracks in a concrete slab and floors that have settled unevenly.
Openings and Doors: The inspector will indicate openings in the firewall (between the garage and the interior of the home) that are not properly protected, as well as openings into rooms that are used for sleeping, which are forbidden. To make sure a fire is contained or slowed down in the garage, the inspector will see if appropriate material—based on local building codes—has been used on walls and ceilings that border the building, and that there are no ceiling/wall cracks or missing pieces. All wall and ceiling penetrations, such as pipes and ducts, must be adequately sealed with a fire-rated application. The inspector will also check to see if drywall seams are taped or finished with an appropriate application.
Of major importance is a well-installed fire-rated solid wood or core steel door between the garage and home. The inspector will check for proper material and acceptable door thickness. Other door issues include insufficient weather-sealing and lack of a self-closing device, which may be required per some local building guidelines.
Garage Door: Malfunctioning garage doors are responsible for thousands of injuries annually and dozens of fatalities, often involving children. The inspector will report on the functionality of the automatic door opener, the safety reverse system, weak or damaged springs that may cause the door to close unexpectedly, damage to the door itself (delamination, rust, denting, difficulty opening and closing, poor fitment), and other conditions.
Appliances: Because gas spills in a garage can be fire hazards, any appliance with an ignition source (e.g., gas-fired water heaters) must be elevated. Further, recommended measures such as the installation of curbs or pipe stanchions should be taken to ensure that a vehicle will not run into one of these appliances.
Other Concerns: As mentioned above, many aspects of the garage inspection parallel the standard checkup of the rest of the home. These include an inspection of the gutters and downspouts (Is the system moving rainwater away from the garage or is water pooling around the perimeter?); the roof (Is the surface damaged? Is there leaking? Does the truss system have defects such as weak fasteners and undersized metal connectors that could lead to collapse); plumbing (Have contractors used approved materials for plumbing and ducts penetrating drywall?); electrical receptacles (Have cut-outs in drywall been sealed? exterior grading (Does the driveway slope away from the garage?); garage attic (Is it structurally sound?); and windows (Are they cracked, rotting, or missing glass?).