How to Look

at a House

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We want you to be an informed homebuyer, and each blog post is a question that we have answered for our friends and customers over the years. Hope they help you make a good choice for your next home.

More Blog Posts on Similar Subjects:

  1. What do you check in a mobile home inspection?

  2. Why are expired building permits a problem for both the buyer and seller of a home?

  3. Should a home inspection scare you?

  4. What is the difference between an appraisal and a home inspection?

  5. Are you licensed and insured?

  6. We looked at the house carefully, and it seems alright. Do we really need a home inspection?

  7. Is a home inspection required?

  8. Should I be there for the inspection?

  9. What tools do you use for a home inspection?

  10. Is it common for an insurance company to require an inspection?

  11. The seller has to fix everything you find wrong with the house, right?

  12. Can I do my own home inspection?

  13. Is it still possible to do an inspection if there’s no electricity or water?

  14. What’s the difference between a roof inspection and a roofing estimate?

  15. Should I hire an engineer to inspect the house?

  16. Do inspectors go on the roof? Do they get in the attic?

  17. What should I look for when buying a former rental house?

  18. What happens at a home inspection?

  19. How do sellers try to fool the home inspector?

  20. Does the home inspector also check for termites?

  21. What different types of specialized inspections can I get?

  22. What are the questions a home inspector won’t answer?

  23. What is the difference between a building inspector and a home inspector?

  24. What do I need to know about buying a 1950s house?

  25. What is the difference between a home inspection and a final walkthrough inspection?

  26. Should the seller be at the home inspection?

  27. What is the average lifespan of a house?

  28. What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1960s home?

  29. Should I use my realtor’s home inspector or choose one myself?

  30. Should I use a contractor or a home inspector to inspect a house I’m buying?

  31. Should I get a home inspection before signing a contract to buy the house?

  32. What makes a house fail the home inspection?

  33. Can a home inspector do repairs to a house after doing the inspection?

  34. What is a “continuous load path”?

  35. When did the first Florida Building Code (FBC) begin and become effective?

  36. Should I trust the Seller’s Property Disclosure Statement?

  37. Should I only hire an inspector that is a member of a national association like ASHi, InterNACHI, or NAHI?

  38. What is a “cosmetic” defect in a home inspection?

  39. Where are the funny home inspection pictures?

  40. Should I follow the inspector around during the inspection?

  41. Why do realtors call some home inspectors “deal killers”?

  42. How can I reduce the risk of an expensive surprise when buying a house sight unseen?

  43. I can’t find a local home inspector. What should I do?

  44. What tips do first-time homebuyers need to know to get a better home inspection?

  45. Does a home inspector give cost estimates for repairs?

  46. What inspections does a bank or mortgage lender need for loan approval?

  47. What is the difference between a structural defect and a cosmetic defect?

American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) - Available for visual inspection without requiring moving of personal property, dismantling, destructive measures, or actions that will likely involve risk to persons or property.

International Residential Code - Capable of being reached quickly for operation, renewal or inspection without requiring those to whom access is requisite to climb over or remove obstacles or to resort to portable ladders or access equipment.

Code Check® - Capable of being reached quickly for operation or inspection without the necessity of using tools to remove covers, resorting to ladders, or removing other obstacles.

    The term accessible is not as restrictive as readily accessible. It means that the area or equipment can be reached and opened without causing damage, and allows using tools to gain access. Most home inspectors, however, consider a panel that requires removing only a few screws as readily accessible.

    Here’s a few examples of situations at home inspections that are defined as not readily accessible:

  1. 1)A gas water heater had been installed directly under the only attic hatch opening. While the seller of the home insisted that “lots of service people” had climbed on top of the water heater to get into the attic, both the home inspector and the termite inspector disclaimed the attic access as dangerous and potentially damaging to the water heater.

  2. 2)Access panels that have been heavily caulked or nailed shut, which would be damaged if opened. Spa tub compartments often have this problem.

  3. 3)Doors that are locked or blocked by stored items.

  4. 4)An electric panel without a clear area directly in front of it so that the inspector can stand back from the panel and move freely while removing the dead front (cover plate) and examining “live” electrical components. Being able to reach across stacked boxes and open the panel door is not enough.

  5. 5)An attic or crawl space with an undersize access opening or insufficient headroom once inside. Installed shelving directly under an attic hatch opening in a small closet sometimes makes it impossible to get in without risking damage to the shelving

    If you do not have to use tools to open a panel, resort to a ladder, or remove any obstacles then it is readily openable. A panel secured with a thumbscrew or sliding bolt latch would be considered readily openable, for example.

    If a component requires tools to remove, then it is considered an installed system. An over-the-range microwave that is bolted in place is an installed system, while a countertop microwave is not. Wall-mounted air conditioners are considered an installed system, but a window unit is not. Also, a washing machine that is connected to plumbing and electricity is an installed system, whereas a washing machine simply being stored in the corner of the garage is not inspected.

    Things like switches, valves, thermostats, and hand-held remotes that are intended to be used by the homeowner are considered normal operating controls, while any internal switches or valves used for testing and diagnostics by a service technician are not.  Any control that appears to be damaged, or not intended for the appliance that it is connected to, may not be tested or inspected. Safety of both the inspector and the property is always the overriding issue in any decision as what areas are readily accessible and components acceptable to test.

While we hope you find this series of articles about home inspection helpful, they should not be considered an alternative to an actual home inspection by a local inspector. Also, construction standards vary in different parts of the country and it is possible that important issues related to your area may not be covered here.
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