Inspecting a house is a daunting task.
Standing in front and looking at a house, an inspector can become overwhelmed by the sheer number of things that need to be checked in order to do a thorough inspection.
It seems enormous; and it is.
Look around the room you are in. Imagine that you need to examine and assess every item; from pencils to windows, walls to computer.
Take a minute to see how many items there really are in our everyday environment. How would you begin?
How would you be sure you did not miss something?
You would need to list everything. You would need to break the items down into categories and systematically go through them and report your findings in a logical way.
The first time you did it this would be an extremely tedious and slow process; if you wanted to do a thorough job.
But when you completed the task you would learn ways to do it better the next time. You would become more efficient.
Your list would be pre-made to show what is typically found in similar rooms, you would have preset ways to check each type of thing and what it should be like, and you would leave spaces for unforeseen items.
Eventually you would have a system and, given practice, you could do the job relatively quickly and efficiently.
Now, a Home Inspector does not have to deal with the minutia of pencils or non-home related electronics like computers; but does need to inspect the windows, walls, doors, outlets, plumbing, furnace, and on, and on, and on.
The approach to complicated questions is often to simplify the problem.
We inspect a complex house by breaking it down into its basic sub-parts and those sub-parts into their components, and then inspect each of those, one at a time.
When we are done with all of the parts, we are done with the whole house.
We break it down into its sections; the roof, the exterior walls, the exterior grounds, the garage, etc. We then break each of the sections down into its relevant components, for example: the garage.
The garage has basic components like doors, floors, walls, door opener, etc. As we inspect each of these components we look at each from three perspectives. We inspect each component for its Condition, its Operation, and its Safety.
If a garage door opener is newer and appears in good condition then we note that and report on it. If it opens and closes as designed we note that it operates and report that as well.
If the overhead door stops and reverses when we break the beam of the electric eye sensor or apply resistance as if someone were under the closing door, then its safety features are also functioning and we report.
Let’s look at a roof as a section. One component of the roof is the covering. What is its condition? Is this covering older; newer; slate; architectural shingle?
Is this roof operating properly? We look to see if the roof is leaking. If it is not leaking then we know the roof covering is performing its operation properly.
Perhaps there is cement tile that looks loose and possibly unsafe. We then move on to the next components like the gutters and downspouts. After doing all the separate components of the roof we move on to the next section.
After we have completed all the sections we are done with the entire house; systematically and thoroughly.
The worksheet (or list as mentioned above) is the primary tool for good home inspection. It will have listed all of the sections with all of the components.
All the inspector has to do is follow the worksheet section by section, component by component. The worksheet acts as a guide, and by following the worksheet exactly you will ensure that nothing is overlooked and ensure a thorough, complete inspection.
I recommend that you order your worksheet sections in the order you want to inspect. Order them logically (like outside to inside –top to bottom) and just stay on track, don’t jump around, and don’t become sidetracked; if you do this you won’t miss any sections or components.
A good reporting system should already have all of the components laid out for you and all you have to do is arrange the sections into the order you wish to inspect to check things off piece by piece.
Personally, I start outside and then move inside – top to bottom, ending in the basement.
Some inspectors prefer to start in the basement and end outside at their vehicle, to do the final paperwork there.
This is a matter of personal choice.
The important thing is that you not skip over any sections or any components within a section, and follow a set routine each and every time to ensure a complete inspection.