The list is not limited to these but includes the following:
Examining the foundation of the house is of utmost importance. Some settlement cracks are normal up to a certain point. Larger cracks, bowing of the foundation walls, and larger steps cracks indicate structural problems. We are also looking at the walls and trusses or rafters to check that they are in alignment.
Around the exterior, we will check to make sure that the siding is properly flashed and attached to the house, make sure that all railings are secure, evaluate the deck construction and how it is connected to the house. We also evaluate the driveway and walk-ways to the house. Ground water management is a very important concern. The gutters and downspouts should be clear of debris and discharge water a good 5 to 8 feet away from the foundation. The ground should slope away from the foundation.
When it is safe to get on the roof, we will evaluate the condition of the shingles looking for broken or missing shingles, evaluate the approximate age of the shingles, check for penetrations, and make sure that the plumbing vent stack boots have not deteriorated allowing water into the attic space. When a chimney is present, we are checking the condition of the crown, that there are no missing or loose bricks and that the flashing is properly done and well-sealed. There are times when a drone is needed. We do inspect those inaccessible areas with a drone when conditions are right.
The inspector will remove the main distribution panel to make sure that the correct gauge wiring matches up with the correct sized breaker, look for loose connections, evidence of arcing and/or burnt wiring. We will check to make sure that the GFCI and AFCI breakers and outlets trip properly as well as check outlets, switches, ceiling fans and lighting throughout the house.
We will check to make sure that the heat source is operating correctly and within the proper temperature ranges as well as that each habitable room is properly vented.
We will run the air conditioning system to make sure it is cooling properly within the appropriate variances specific to the unit.
Getting into the attic helps us to not only evaluate the insulation values of the home but also look at the underside of the roof sheathing. We will look for leaks, penetrations where vermin can enter, and make sure that any ductwork is in good condition.
Plumbing is a major system that needs to be thoroughly evaluated. It is important that you understand that older or inoperative water heaters can be costly to replace. Your inspector will run water throughout the property checking for leaks and making sure that hot is on the left, cold on the right. Reversed connections can be a scalding concern since we are accustomed to cold being on the right. Where plumbing is visible, we check for leaks.
Windows are opened and closed and checked for failed seals. Doors opened and closed. Walls and ceilings checked for plumbing leaks and structural problems.
We will check all the appliances. Run the oven / stove, check the ice maker and water dispenser on the refrigerator, run the microwave and dishwasher as well as the washer/dryer.
If there is a fireplace in the home, we will evaluate the damper and look up chimney if possible. When we are on the roof, your inspector will also look down the chimney for visible cracks, mis-aligned tiles and check the crown and missing bricks.
All these inspected areas are documented with descriptions, limitations to inspecting with recommendations for repair or replacement put into a PDF report which is sent to you and your agent typically within 24hrs.