Critical Areas During a Home Inspection

By: Eric Badgely

A home inspector looks at the structure and many systems and components in the home. While this information is all helpful to the buyer, the fact remains that a few key locations at the home tend to be those areas where the most dangerous safety issues are found.

If a home inspector adheres to any of the published national standards, the home inspection will include many locations and systems: structure, roof, crawl space or basement areas, plumbing, heating, electrical, fireplaces, etc. Even though the inspector looks at all of these components, there are certain locations or systems that are, in fact, more critical than others in trying to identify the possible safety concerns.

Faulty, ancient or overloaded wiring often causes house fires. An inspector should look for evidence of this condition. Another significant danger at the home involves decks. With high decks, and to a lesser degree low decks, a person falling through rotted decking can receive a life threatening injury. There are a number of other common deck safety issues: missing lag bolts at high decks, poor or missing guardrails or handrails and unsafe steps. The hot water heater, the fireplace and the furnace are other systems that need to be carefully evaluated by the inspector. An incorrectly plumbed water heater might explode. Furnaces and fireplaces, that are not maintained professionally, can be fire hazards or disperse carbon monoxide into the home.

The components and systems described above tend to be among the most critical as far as household safety. That does not, however, mean that other areas of the home should be ignored. Historically, some of the most expensive repairs - often with dollar amounts going well beyond the cost of repairing those systems listed above - involve re-roofing, replacing old plumbing, or resolving serious structural problems in the crawl space, such as repairing damage from termites, carpenter ants or rot. A quality home inspection should pay for itself. In the long run the inspection report, prepared by a trained professional, will provide you with not only an overview of the work that needs to be addressed right away but also a glimpse into the future and the projects that will be required or are recommended at a later date.

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