Part 4: The Interior
In Part 4 of Common Defects Found in a Home Inspection, I focused on basic interior details. Some basic areas of inspection have been mentioned in previous articles but I will get a little more specific to help you understand why they are areas of concern and how it affects you, the homeowner or buyer.
Each room will have a basic checklist of areas that are inspected. Every home inspector has a different report but mine includes the following areas of concern.
Walls & Ceilings: The condition of walls and ceilings will be noted. It is important to understand the difference between cosmetic issues and structural issues. Depending on the age of the home, old plaster can have cracks and blemishes that are not structural issues. As long as they aren’t an indication of a more serious problem, they are mentioned but not noted as a defect. Sagging or settled ceilings are noted and can be an indication of a more serious problem such as over spanned joists. I check all walls and ceilings for moisture stains as and if observed, I will determine if they are the result of an active leak. Any moisture stains are noted as a separate section of my report as they can be a serious area of concern.
Floors: Houses settle over time and homes can have warped or uneven floors, particularly older homes. I note sagging or uneven floors and try to determine if it is just natural settling or an indication of a bigger structural problem.
Ceiling Fan: I choose to include this as a section on my report because many rooms now include a ceiling fan. If there is a ceiling fan, I will run it to make sure it is working properly. As mentioned in the last installment of this services, Part 3 The Kitchen, home inspectors don’t make a determination about the life of appliances. We only note if they are currently running properly. The same is true for ceiling fans.
Electrical: There are 3 electrical areas I note on my report for homeowners or buyers. Are the light switches working properly? How are the receptacles (which is just a technical word for outlet)? Is there an open ground/reverse polarity? Reverse polarity is when the hot wire and neutral wire are reversed.
Heating Source: I simply note if there is a heat source present in the room. Heating units are checked separately. On a side note, as discussed in my Top 10 Myths Blog, home inspectors will not always be able to catch unseen defects such as a cracked heat exchanger.
Bedroom Egress – I note if there is an egress present.
Doors: Doors are inspected for hardware issues, warping, gaps, and if they stay closed. I mentioned earlier that warped floors can be an issue in older homes. Doors that don’t stay closed can be an indication of warped flooring. Gaps can be a safety issue. There are many injuries, especially with children, getting fingers stuck in gaps between the door and the frame.
Windows: I inspect windows for broken sashes, broken locks, difficulty opening and closing, and broken seals. Windows can be a point of contention for buyers and sellers as some see window issues as cosmetic. I note if windows have broken seals but the buyers and sellers need to negotiate terms of any window replacements.
Besides individual room inspections, there are other basic areas included on the interior section of the home inspection. I will save the attic and basement for a separate blog.
Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are one of the most important interior points of inspection. Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors save lives but they need to be checked on a regular basis to make sure they are working properly. In 23% of deaths from home fires, smoke detectors were present but didn’t alarm properly. I can’t stress enough how important it is for homeowners to check these devices regularly and not just during a home inspection.
Use this checklist as a maintenance guide for the interior of your home. If you are aware of potential issues, you can often fix them before they get to be a bigger problem.