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Tips for Your Home Inspection

Many home buyers are unaware of the process that is observed by inspectors when a home inspection is performed. This is usually a necessary condition of the sale and the entire deal can hinge on the inspections outcome. Its important for new home buyers to familiarize themselves with this process as it urges them to become more educated and knowledgeable about the home they are purchasing. In understanding the process, it is necessary to define exactly what a home inspection is, and what an inspector's responsibilities are.

A home inspection is simply a visual inspection of a structure and property, made by a trained and qualified professional. This inspector should be able to accurately assess the condition of a home based on appearance and a walk through. The initial inspection does not involve any intrusive measures, but should identify any intrusive measures that are necessary. It is the responsibility of the inspector to identify things such as any leaks, mold, visual damage, apparent structural damage and any other elements that may affect your decision to purchase the home in question. They should also identify and detail areas that may need repair in the near future, but are not in critical shape.

Every aspect of the home is considered during a proper inspection. The following areas are of critical importance:

1. Chimneys - Older chimneys can be a fire hazard if they have not been up kept properly. They can also be a prime area for leakage if the base flashing was not installed properly. Many things can compromise the safety of a chimney such as damaged fireboxes, damaged brick, cracked flue liners and deteriorated dampers.

2. Electrical - This is one of the most important inspection sites as faulty electrical wiring is the cause of many home fires every year. Inspectors will consider connections at the entry point (overhead wires), the main panel, outlets inside and outside and the service size or rated amperage of the panel. One of the most common problems in the electrical system is DYI wiring jobs. Be sure that the wiring work on your home was done by a certified electrician. That way you can be assured that the work done is up to code, and will not mistakenly overload the circuits.

3. Exterior - The most important aspect of the exterior of the home is whether or not it is watertight. An inspection will consider what kind of sealants were used in construction, the materials used for the outer shell of the home, and what condition these elements are in. Proper inspection will indicate the level of water intrusion and weather wear on the exterior of the home. The most common cause of exterior distress is a lack of maintenance by the owner.

4. Fireplaces - The most common problem with fireplaces is creosote buildup in the flue, firebox deterioration, and improper materials utilized for gas connections and natural gas lines. Also bad connections on gas fireplaces are seen quite often. stereotypically there are fewer problems with closed and contained gas fireplaces than there are with older open wood burning fireplaces.

5. Foundations - The foundation of your home is of paramount importance. A good inspection will ensure that there is no cracking or bowing, that they aren't susceptible to frost-induced uplift or that any other land based concerns like soil erosion or water intrusion. Also the inspection should ensure that and additions to the home have not damaged the foundations in any way.

6. Framing - Inferior framing is evident if the walls seem bowed or if gaps have appeared above the doors. This can mean that there is insufficient header support. Bowed walls can also mean that poor quality lumber was used in the construction of the home.

7. Furnaces - Proper inspection will ensure that the burner, the blower, and the heat exchanger are all in working order. It should also ensure that there are low levels of carbon monoxide being produced, and no rusting or debris clogging up the works.

8. Garages - Many of the standards of a home apply to a garage. The more common mistakes in garages are things such as DIY wiring, unsafe overhead door mechanisms, and improper firewall separation between the house and garage, also the lack of a fire rated door between home and garage is common.

9. Insulation & Ventilation - This can be one of the most common causes of high heating bills. A lack of sufficient insulation can also cause moisture problems and cost the homeowner allot of money. Water damage can cause deterioration in the roof itself if left unchecked.

10. Plumbing - The most common plumbing problem occur when someone has done a DYI job on the plumbing without knowing what they are doing. All materials, internal and external supply lines, and waste lines should be up to code. Is there adequate water pressure? These and many other considerations will be taken during a proper inspection.

11. Shingles & Roof - The roof is one of the most important area to inspect on a home. Shingles and roofs have a finite life span and can easily be damaged by the elements. Usual life span of a roof is 20-25 years, how much life does the current roof have left?

12. Support Structure - This is the area where dry rot is most common. Inspection will show where these structures have been modified or changed. DYI alterations are common and can lead to dry rot and other deterioration.

13. Water Heaters - The most common problems with water heaters are due to improper venting, or leakage and corrosion. DYI jobs are a major cause of concern with improperly installed pressure relief valves or bad connections on gas lines or electrical supply connections.

14. Windows & Doors - The windows and doors in a home can be a major factor in heat loss and high energy bills. A proper inspection will check all areas for signs of rotting, failed seals, un-insulated windows and doors, and old or rotted caulking.

All of these things should be considered and explained in a proper inspection. By knowing the process you will enable yourself to have a more active role in the inspection of the home. Knowing which questions to ask an inspector can help to reveal a wealth of information that could change your mind on the purchase of a home. If any of these areas do not pass an inspection, ensure that they are repaired by the current owner before you go ahead with the purchase. The most common way of doing this is making the repair a "subject" on the sale. Now, go find yourself the home of your dreams!

About the Author: REW Writers is a collective publication network facilitated by Real Estate Webmasters. Each article is contributed by a member of our real estate community. This particular article was submitted on behalf of Lee Keadle, your Charleston SC realty expert.

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