Home Inspections

What is a home inspection?

What does the inspector do?

What do I find out?

It is requested and highly recommended that you be present at the inspection.

As a home inspector, I perform a visual inspection of all the systems in the house or building you are buying, selling, building, or desire information about. Provided it is safe and I am able: I remove access panels; I walk and or crawl attics; crawlspaces; and basements; I climb and walk roofs; I fire up and test heating and cooling equipment; I test a representative number of fixtures, outlets, doors, and windows; and I test all plumbing fixtures and check for leaks in pipes. I inspect every room in the house.

This general inspection is done in accordance with the standards set by the American Society of Home Inspectors, and includes, but is not limited to, the following systems: Structure, Basements, Heating, Cooling, Plumbing, Bathrooms, Electrical, Kitchens, Interiors, Attics, Roofing, Exteriors, Grounds, Fireplaces / Chimneys,

By the end of the inspection, you will have the following useful information about all of these systems: their current condition, how they work, their life expectancy, things to watch for, improvement recommendations, and how to maintain and keep the systems in good working order.

Be prepared to spend an average of 2 to 4 hours at an average inspection, depending on the size, condition, and the complexity of the house. I highly recommend that you stay with me, ask questions, and take notes. Take full advantage of over 5 decades of building, remodeling, repairing, and inspecting experience.

The Report:

As valuable as the physical inspection and the information obtained are, the report is the essence of the inspection.

Scott Home Inspections provides you with an extensive report with all of the information from the inspection and more. This is not a checklist report, but a complete narrative booklet with valuable information specifically about your house. It is documentation of the condition of the house at the time of the inspection and can be used as a benchmark when you want to sell the house to establish preexisting conditions. It can also be used as a reference for maintenance of the house.

Remember that the report is site-specific. This means all of the information in it is pertinent to the house you are buying, not generic to every house in the county.

The home buying process can be confusing and stressful. It’s not the “don’t worry, be happy” process it’s made out to be in the Sunday real-estate section of the newspaper. Not only do you need to consider things such as price and location, you also have to worry about whether the house itself has any hidden problems that could become costly surprises down the road. Not just the condition of the house, but what about the septic system, does it have radon, what is radon, what about termites, how does it work, how do I maintain it.

As professional Home Inspectors, it’s my job to look for those hidden problems for you. The Home Inspection is an unbiased, professional assessment of the condition of the house. It provides you an expert opinion and professional report on the condition of the physical structure and various systems within a house. Giving you a thorough education on what is likely the largest purchase you’ll ever make.

In order to prepare the report, an inspector must conduct a visual inspection of the house. The inspection process takes between 3 to 4 hours for a typical house. This, of course, may vary, according to the size and condition of the home. I strongly encourage you to accompany me during the inspection. This will give you a chance to ask questions and become familiar with the systems of the home.

I will inspect all the structural elements and systems of the home. Items that will typically be included in an inspection are:

  • Framing (structure)
  • Roof and attic
  • Foundation
  • Walls
  • Electrical system
  • Plumbing system
  • Heating and air conditioning systems
  • Kitchen
  • Bathrooms

Additional items and systems unique to a particular home and perhaps beyond the scope of the general home inspection can also be inspected. I perform most of the inspections/test myself. These may include septic inspections, radon test, wood destroying insect inspections, and sampling for all types of water testing. I can also provide upon request lead, mold, asbestos, and tank testing.

During the inspection, I’ll tell you of any problems that I discover and discuss them with you. I’ll try to help you keep things in perspective, to look at the whole picture. I’ll also tell you about any routine maintenance that should be performed, as well as answer any questions you may have. You’ll also receive a full written report of the inspection. My Inspection Reports average 25 to 35 pages of information. And every sentence in your report will be pertinent to your house. Not generic to every house in the neighborhood.

My goal is to discover and inform you of anything I find that might affect your purchase decision. I’ll tell you about any problems I find, and make repair recommendations. I’ll also inform you of what maintenance tasks are required to keep the home and its systems in top condition.

The Home Inspection Step by Step:

Every home inspector has their own method, style, or procedure for performing the home inspection. This is how I usually do mine. It doesn’t always go like this. Things like the weather, the client’s schedule or request from the owner may cause me to vary from this procedure. As mentioned at several locations in this website, it is very important for you to be present at the inspection. If I find nothing wrong with the house (which has never happened I might add) the inspection is still worth the price. It is an education on all your systems, electrical, plumbing, heating/air, the materials and the construction methods used, are just a few of the items covered. You also get recommended improvements or suggestions how to improve something to extend its life, prevent a future problem, or just make it work better. I have been involved with residential construction since before I graduated from high school in 1969. I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t work. You receive the benefit of over 5 decades of experience and knowledge. I provide you with information that only this amount of experience can give you. Information that far exceeds the requirements of a general home inspection.  See the (Services) section of this website.

Arrival at the site, inspection of the exterior:

I generally arrive at the property at least one-half hour before the time of the inspection. I walk the grounds around the house first clockwise and them counterclockwise at least twice. Not only do I look for problems or potential problems but this also allows me to become familiar with the house. Where the electric enters the house, where the dryer is located, basement access, propane tanks, walkways, decks, patios, retaining walls, negative grade, hundreds of items are inspected and notes are taken to be sure I get answers to questions that arise when I get inside. At the same time, I’m viewing the roof and all the roof related items such as gutters, flashing, ventilation, and unusual conditions from visible from the ground and take notes as to special areas where something doesn’t look quite right. After the walk around I will generally access the roof. However, sometimes I wait until the end of the inspection to do this because this allows me to inspect the attic and the attic related items to determine the condition of the roof framing etc.  (Note: Climbing / walking roofs can be hazardous to my health.) I do climb/walk the majority of roofs that I inspect, however many factors are considered before I do so. Weather conditions, the age of roof/house, type of roofing material, the height of the roof, and the slope of the roof, are just a few of the things considered. Ultimately it boils down to my decision as to just how I inspect the roof.

Around this time my client – you show up. I take you around the house and point out what I found. This is where the education part of the home inspection begins.  I educate you on all of your exterior systems and the components of those systems. I explain the advantages and disadvantages of the type of materials used, the design of the item, and the quality of workmanship, used in the construction of the house you are interested in.

First and foremost I point out the items that are indeed defective and need immediate repair/replacement.  But I also point out items/areas where there may not be defects but I have concerns. I explain what my concerns are and why. Make suggestions on how to improve your house and its systems.

Inside and get a short education on Home Inspections:

Next, we go inside, usually into the kitchen where I go over the paperwork with you. I give you what I call a “crash course on Home Inspections” or “Home Inspection 101”. I show you a sample of the report you will receive. I explain how there is a section for each system in your house and how each system is broken down into its components. In the report, I describe what you have, where it is located, its condition, its life expectancy, suggestions and recommended improvements. I also explain my grading system. What constitutes a system/component that I consider to be “Satisfactory” and what causes a system/component to be graded “Poor”.

This is also when we “pay tribute to our legal system” by signing the Inspection Agreement. This agreement is required by both Pa. and NJ home inspection laws. I go over it with you paragraph by paragraph. Basically, it explains exactly what I am going to do for you. The standards I inspect to, what I’m responsible for and what the limitations of the inspection process are. In this short period of time, I try to align your expectations about the home inspection with what I can realistically do for you during a one time visit to the house.

Down to the basement:

Next, we head for the basement. If you don’t have a basement we head to the utility closet/room or the laundry, wherever your electric panel, heating system, water heater etc. are located. When it comes to the inspection, the basement is the most important area in the whole house. We can easily spend an hour in the basement alone. I take a couple of minutes getting familiar with what you have and then we start in on determining what problems there are, what needs repair, what needs replacement, what needs to be improved. I educate you about radon, termites, mold, and septic systems even if you are not paying me to perform these inspections/test and if they apply to your house.  See “Additional Services” section. I explain the importance of preventing water penetration into the basement, the systems you may have to address this, the systems you can install to prevent it and how to maintain and improve those systems. I will also point out the strong points of the house. If you have a 200 AMP electric panel in a 100-year-old house, this is a good thing. If you have a new high-efficiency furnace nicely installed this is also a good thing. If I see what I feel is good design, materials or workmanship, I will point it out to you and explain why these are strong points of the house. All the time you receive a continual education on what you have how it works, what you need to do to maintain it, suggestions and recommendations. If I’m being paid the additional sum for radon testing and wood destroying insect inspection this is also when I do these test/inspections. See “Radon testing and Insect Inspection” section of this website.

I’m still working on this page. The step by step description of the home inspection will be completed in the near future.  If you can’t wait call me and I’ll be happy to answer all your questions.