Comprehensive Residential building inspection includes the following sections
Interior Living Spaces
These include Entrances, hallways, staircases, bedrooms, dining and living areas including entire basement. All accessible items are a part of the inspection, thermostats, heaters, control switches and receptacles, smoke/ CO detectors, doors, windows, floors, walls, ceilings, level/plumb at floors and walls to help determine signs of movement and/or lack of support where structural components are not accessible, as well as signs or evidence of water/moisture intrusion/damage. Use of moisture detector and thermal imaging where questionable will help uncover the condition behind the walls.
Inspecting the exterior surfaces and components of any building is of ultimate importance, as they form a great deal of the building envelope, ensuring good condition of components and water tight seal is crucial in keeping the weather elements out. Therefore, a thorough examination of the siding materials, flashings, transitions, doors and windows frames/sills, wall perforations for venting and/or other, exterior hose bibs and electrical outlets is performed to reveal problematic conditions or potential for any problem in the future. Service utility lines on the property and access to basements are covered in this section as well.
Inspected to verify the perimeter ground slopes, POSITIVE grading is essential in diverting the water away from the structure. Driveways, walkways, porches, patios, decks, steps, vegetation, and retaining walls are also part of the property grounds inspection. Pools, saunas, Jacuzzis, irrigation systems and fences are excluded as per the standards of practice.
This is the most critical aspect of any building, the main “deal breaker” to all home buyers since it involves the highest cost of repair depending on the severity of its condition. Roof structure will be reported on in the attic section, as for the house structure, inspection starts by closely examining the foundation while at exterior and doesn’t end in the basement where all structural components are inspected “where accessible”. Foundation, Beams, posts, joists, load bearing walls, any indication or sign of displacement /movement, water or moisture infiltration and damage are all verified, moisture detectors and thermal imaging/survey is conducted as well where a problem is suspected and if deemed necessary by the inspector.
It is important to note that NO STRUCTURE IS PERFECT, cracks and/or other deficiencies may exist in every foundation or structure; the inspection report will highlight these readily visible deficiencies and will provide the necessary recommendations as well. ALL RECOMMEDATIONS REGARDING STRUCTURE REPAIRS OR MODIFICATIONS ARE TO BE EXCECUTED BY A QUALIFIED LICENSED PROFESSIONAL.
Plumbing systems typically include water supply, waste sewer, and ideally rain sewer as well. They are thoroughly inspected to verify functional water pressure, flow, and waste drainage; the inspector will determine type and condition of water supply/distribution lines, water main and all other shutoff valves where readily accessible. Sewer system components such as floor drains, vents, clean out accesses, check valves, backflow prevention valves and piping are verified as well where readily accessible. Any active or passive water leaks and damage will be reported.
Close attention is given to the water heater to ensure proper and safe installation / operation regardless of its type, gas and oil plumbing lines and components are also inspected if present.
Another critical component for ground water evacuation is a sump pump; if present and accessible; it is inspected and tested during the inspection.
These include all areas / aspects of a home that have water supply / drainage, typically kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry areas. Generally speaking these require the greatest cost when it comes to interior renovations or updates. For this reason the inspector will carefully examine all plumbing fixtures, water supply and drainage lines, garburators, valves, P-traps, connections for any evident previous leaks/active or potential for future leaks, as well as functional water flow and drainage, power supply at countertops and other areas, GFCI presence at proximity to a water source.
Cabinets, countertops, islands, backsplashes, floor coverings, windows, doors, patio doors, HVAC source are also a part of the inspection. Unless included in the sale, the appliances are not within the scope of the inspection.
Whether you are buying a house with a flat or a sloped roof, as a homeowner you need to be familiar with the roof component s and their general condition to help plan for future maintenance / repairs or even replacement. Unless it involves risk to the inspector, walking on a roof is proven to be the best inspection method to reveal possible anomalies, this inspection covers roofing materials, flashings, skylights and all other roof perforations, ventilation, perimeter trim, parapets, roof drainage, and chimneys.
It is the underside of the roof, equally important to inspect where accessible, a thorough inspection is conducted to report on any signs of water / moisture infiltration and damage, condensation, the condition of structure, insulation type and approximate R value, access door, ventilation, electrical, and ductwork if present. Potentially contaminated insulation types like vermiculate or other is reported with testing recommendations. Providing and maintaining adequate attic insulation and ventilation helps maximizing the life expectancy of roofing materials.
Attached and/or detached garages are within the scope of a home inspection; besides the use to park your vehicle(s) there are many other important aspects that require verification, hence the entire structure including attic is inspected as well as overhead /service doors and their safety controls, garage interior, windows, heating, electrical, plumbing, and fire ratings where required in walls / doors.
Most common in old buildings, crawl spaces were built instead of full basements. While this isn’t anyone’s favourite place to be, without any hesitation the inspector will crawl under your home “if accessible” to inspect the structure for deficiencies / signs of movement/displacement, insulation, ventilation, electrical, plumbing, heating and water tightness. Any signs of animals, insects, and rodent’s presence will be reported as well.
Inspecting the Electrical system of any property requires special attention since it may involve safety concerns, grounding system and fault protection are extremely important to ensure safety of the occupants and electrical equipment “loads”. Starting from the service entry cables/mast to the main panels, subpanels, and main breakers, the inspector reports on the main and distribution conductors’ types, sizes, maximum ratings, as well as the over load protection, Ground fault and Arc fault breakers, splices and connections within the panel, a representative number of circuit switches and outlets will be inspected to verify proper/safe wiring. All electrical systems present in a property are tested using accessible normal controls only.
Private water supply/ waste systems
Water wells and septic systems/holding tanks are common installations found where the city service is not provided, mostly rural areas, although these are specialized areas which requires inspection by a specialist, the inspector will still perform a general inspection of the readily accessible components. It is strongly recommended that these systems be inspected by a specialist prior to closing to ensure proper operation.
Due to safety concerns related to combustion and carbon monoxide in a home, Insurance companies stress that these units be inspected and swept by a specialist. Having that said, the inspector will still take a close look at the unit installation / components, air requirements, exhaust , structure for signs of movement / weakness, water/moisture intrusion and damage. The structure of the chimney is an integral part of exterior and roof inspections.
(HVAC) Heating, Ventilation, and Cooling Systems
With our long and harsh Canadian winters being inevitable, HVAC systems play a vital role in any house; along with good insulation they deliver comfort to occupants. Primary / permanent systems are inspected and tested using readily accessible normal controls, and when the weather permits. Whether it is electrically powered, gas, or oil fired furnace/boiler. The inspector will operate the unit and conduct a detailed inspection to ensure proper installation, safe operation, power, air supply, and exhaust requirements, blower fan/motor, heat exchanger if accessible, belts, humidifiers, etc..Any reported condition is to be verified / rectified by a qualified professional.