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What does a home inspector check for?

If you are buying a home, you know that this is a huge investment. As such, you want to make sure that the home is safe to live in, that there are no expensive repairs you will need to make in the near future and that there are no existing problems with the home. To accomplish this, you need to employ the skills of a home inspector.

This professional will come to the house with a general checklist of things to examine, but you can also ask him or her to look for specific issues. Here are some of the things that will be on an inspector's list.

The wiring

Whether the home is old or new, the inspector will be looking for problems with the wiring. Wiring that has been installed by a nonprofessional, or that has been connected with only electrical tape, can present a fire hazard. To make sure that the wiring is in good condition, the inspector will go over every inch of the home, including the garage, outside structures and attic.

Plumbing leaks

Leaks from home plumbing can manifest in several ways. The inspector may actually find a pipe that water is dripping from or may spot more subtle signs such as:

  • Damp spots on a wall
  • Stains in a ceiling
  • Water around the foundation
  • The presence of mold
  • Moisture stains on windows

Leaks from pipes can lead to serious damage in a home. Dry rot is caused by leaks and can lead to the need for expensive repairs.

Roof wear and tear

Roofs have different life expectancies depending on their material and type. If the roof is made from material like terra cotta or slate, the inspector will probably examine it for any evidence of previous repairs, loosening or even cracking. These types of roofs can last for more than 100 years or only 20. It all depends on the seasonal weather that the roof is exposed to.

If the roof is made from shakes or wood shingles, the inspector will look for rotting, damage caused by insects, cupping, curling, sections that are missing or pieces that are lifting away from the home's surface. Asphalt shingles may show granular loss, blister or cup downwards or upwards. Any signs of this kind of wear can indicate the home is at risk for leaks.

If an inspector has found a problem with a home you are hoping to buy, it may be in your best interest to sit down and discuss the issue with an attorney who handles real estate matters. The attorney may be able to help you negotiate with the seller to have repairs done or to lower the asking price to compensate for the cost of fixing the issues yourself.

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