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Home Buyers Guide to Inspections

   Exterior
   Foundation/Basement/Structure
   Insulation
   Water Problems

Exterior

As you examine the roof from the ground, check the exterior of the home also. Be suspicious of any part you cannot see. Look for cracks in the masonry and cracked, warped, or rotted wood siding. Is there aging or failing paint? Is the hardboard siding bulging or delaminating? Look closely around the decks, stoops, and at doors for splash or rot damage. Have the stoops or steps shifted or settled? Are there missing, loose or damaged rails?

Foundation/Basement/Structure

Without a good foundation, the rest doesn't matter. Hire a Home Inspector to go in the crawl space to help you look for clues of damage in the concealed areas. If the crawl space or basement looks, smells, or feels damp or wet, you need advice on how to dry it. Standing water is surely a sign of trouble. Cracks or obvious settlement in the foundation or basement wall should be referred to a Professional Inspector or Engineer for evaluation. Rust or rot on basement columns indicates wetness. Look closely for rotted framing. Rot can be tremendously expensive to repair. As you check the exterior of the foundation notice the fireplace or chimney. Is it leaning away from the house? It shouldn't be! A properly built slab floor should be reasonably warm, dry, and solid. Check for slab cracks.

Water problems usually start outside the structure. Most of them can be corrected, if you understand how the water gets into the structure.

Insulation

In most of the country insulation had become standard. It saves us money year round. Look to see that you have some in the attic and floors. You'll be surprised to find some houses have little or no insulation. Sometimes its blown or moved around in the attic, leaving holes. Is it falling out or tattered and hanging down in the crawl space? This may be a clue the crawl space is wet. Don't touch the insulation, many types will make you itch. There is a Urea Formaldehyde Foam Insulation that looks like soap suds and may give off formaldehyde fumes. An air quality test may be wise if your dreamhome has this type of insulation.

Water Problems

Water is your home's worst enemy. It does more damage to houses nationwide that fire, earthquakes and termites combined, yet 95% of the problems can be managed or significantly reduced with basic improvements to existing grading and drainage. The illustration shows many of causes of wet basements and crawl spaces. Nearly all water comes from outside the house and improvements should be made at the source. Talk to your inspector about reducing water problems. He may be able to point logical, low budget techniques that will help.

Continue in the Home Buyers Guide to Inspections in the following sections:

Air Conditioning, Heating/Fireplace, Roof
Interior, Electrical, Plumbing, Site Drainage

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