What is a home inspection?

What is a home inspection?

A home inspection is an objective, visual analysis of a home’s structure and systems. It’s purpose is to determine the areas of a home that are not performing correctly, and identify whether or not certain items in the home are beyond their useful life or are unsafe. If issues or concerns are found, the inspector will offer further appropriate evaluation and/or recommendations. A home inspection is an extremely helpful resource in the decision-making process when purchasing a home.

What does our home inspection include?

The home inspection report will review the condition of the the Grounds, Exterior, Foundation, Roof, Attic, and Crawl space. All interior rooms in the home. The Kitchen including all major appliances that are built in. Including the stove, cooktop, garbage disposal, dishwasher, built in microwave. All major systems in the home which includes the furnace and water heater, heating, air conditioning, electrical and plumbing.

There are five basic steps to the home inspection:

1) Our inspector arrives at the property, makes general introductions, explains what is going to take place, and asks about any special questions, issues, or requests.

2) While the inspection agreement is being reviewed, our inspector will make a quick circuit of the property to size up the scope of the inspection. The signing of the home agreement(s) and payment are required at time of inspection.

3) The inspection portion of the process includes an in-depth, walk-through inspection by our inspector. This involves inspecting all visible areas and reviewing all accessible items and areas, including the heating system, central air conditioning system, interior plumbing and electrical systems, as well as the roof, attic space and all visible insulation, the walls, ceilings, floors, doors, windows, basement or crawl space area, the foundation and all visible structural components. Any questions or items of special interest regarding a particular system or structural component are usually addressed at this time. A thorough check of the entire property will then be done to verify that the condition of the property is the same as when the inspection started.

4) Following the inspection process, an on-site picture review is conducted with the client. This allows the inspector time to review any major deficiencies that may have been found, and answer any questions the client may have.

5) A written report will then be generated by our team to include the items discussed during the review. All deficiencies and maintenance recommendations will be documented in the inspection report. This report will be electronically delivered to the client and agent the following business day.

Why do I need a home inspection?

● The purchase of a home is probably one of the single, largest investments you will ever make. You should be as informed and educated as much as possible when considering such a purchase. A thorough home inspection can provide a significant portion of that education. The FHA and the VA, as well as many other mortgage lenders, recommend that a home inspection be performed prior to the purchase of a home.

● A home inspection lets you know the condition of the property as well as identifies the need for any repairs before you buy, so you can make an informed purchasing decision. A home inspection also informs the buyer of the positive aspects of the home, as well as any maintenance that may be recommended to keep the house in good shape, with the major systems operating smoothly. After the inspection you will have a much better understanding of the property you intend to purchase.

● A home inspection is also valuable to homeowners for identifying any potential problems that may need tending to, as well as for learning preventive maintenance measures to help avoid any costly, future repairs. If you intend to put your house on the market, a home inspection could identify items that might be called out on a buyer’s inspection. Getting your own inspection done ahead of time allows you to be proactive in making repairs, thereby putting your house in a more saleable position.

Should the seller have an inspection before there is a buyer involved?

Many homeowners are living in homes with serious problems that if identified early could save considerable repair costs. Water leaks can cause serious and costly issues, but if they are caught early could be repaired at little cost. A home inspection will also give you an outline of the routine maintenance that needs to be done to the home. Home sellers will want an inspection to find major issues that a buyers inspection would eventually find. The seller can then make the repairs prior to the home going on the market and eliminate costly renegotiations when the buyer has his or her own inspection.

Do you ever do inspections for homeowners not selling their home?

Yes. Home inspections are a good idea even if you are not selling your home. We all get physical checkups – why not give your home a checkup? This could alert you to maintenance issues long before they become major repair issues.

What should you look for in a home inspector?

  • Experience: Find out how much experience the inspector has and how long he or she has been in the business—not only length in years, but how many inspections are done annually. This gives you a better understanding of the inspector’s real, on-the-job experience. The Sterling Inspection Group, Inc., has been in business since 1999.  In that time, our team has inspected over 10,000 homes, and continue to inspect 1200+ homes each year.

  • Home Inspection Training: Has the inspector gone through any extensive training in home inspection? There are several training companies that provide hands-on training, such as Inspection Training Associates (ITA), American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), or the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI). Also, you should ask what other related experience the inspector has had that might help him/her be the best inspector for your needs. Many inspectors have been in the building trades for several years and have considerable knowledge of home construction, or continue to receive education on the most current standards of practice.  For example, our senior inspector, Michael Wicklund, has been formally trained by ITA and has gone on to take formal training in mobile home, commercial, and WDO inspections. Michael takes at least 24 hours of continuing education each year and stays abreast of all new issues in the inspection industry. Each of our inspectors has been to an accredited school to be trained and then licensed. As a company-wide policy, we continue to educate our team members in industry standards and make sure they fulfill the required CE credits to maintain an inspector license.

  • Association Membership: Is the inspector a member of a professional Home Inspection organization? Inspectors that are affiliated with professional organizations are serious about what they do, and they know about new developments in the inspection industry. They are also continually informed about changes in the building codes and local city requirements. There are several local organizations that provide support for local inspectors in the Puget Sound area. It is important that the inspectors belong to an association and abide by the standards of practice and code of ethics that require professionalism in the industry. Our inspectors are members of InterNACHI, the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, which provides opportunities for additional training throughout the year.
  • Liability Insurance: Does the inspector carry Professional Liability Insurance in the form of both General Liability and Errors & Omission? Make sure you ask for a copy of the liability insurance policy. An inspector without insurance may not be able to pay a major claim. The Sterling Inspection Group, Inc., carries both General Liability and Errors & Omission insurance coverage. This coverage is not meant to protect the client from every little thing that could go wrong with the home. Instead, it is there to protect from accidents that could happen during the normal inspection and from major occurrences. Since we are very diligent and thorough, this insurance has rarely been needed, but it is nice to know it is there.


Can I do the inspection myself?

Most home buyers will look at a home they are interested in for reasons why they should purchase the home. The prospective home buyer is not able to look at the home with the unbiased, critical eye that a home inspector will. Even a home buyer with construction experience does not have the knowledge and experience that a home inspector has. A good inspector is trained and experienced in finding the clues in a home that indicate issues or concerns. These clues are sometimes very subtle and hard to find. Most inspectors have performed hundreds of inspections and are familiar with things to watch out for with certain building materials or building styles.

How long does the inspection take?

An average home inspection will take between 2 and 3 hours, depending on the size of the house. Larger and more complex houses will take longer for a complete and accurate evaluation. Another factor that may affect the inspection time is the condition of the components at the property. If the house and appliances have not been properly maintained, the inspector may need additional time to explain to the buyer what options they may have to either maintain or replace the items.

Do I need to attend the inspection?

It is not necessary that you attend the inspection. However, we strongly recommend that you attend--or a representative for you attends--the inspection review, so you are properly informed of the investment you are considering making.

Given appropriate access, our inspector can perform the inspection and generate an inspection report, which can then be delivered to you. Again, it is strongly recommended that you attend at minimum the review. You will have a better understanding of the contents of the report if you are able to see it from the home inspector’s perspective and can ask him/her questions as they arise.