The exterior or shell of the house is exposed to continual climate changes and should be continuously checked and maintained to prevent deterioration. Even newer homes that are only a few years old can suffer the consequences of thinning paint and shrinking caulking. A Home Inspector can be enormously helpful to the buyer by pointing out any wood damage or maintenance issues on the exterior. Any tips on future maintenance issues and explanations on current conditions are also very helpful as not all buyers are familiar with maintaining a home. It’s always a good idea to have the buyer present to walk the exterior with the inspector so any problems can be identified and remedies discussed. This is much better that having the customer read about problems later when they get the inspection report. A good inspection and report should not contain any surprises if the buyer attended the inspection.
During the inspection the type and condition of all exterior cladding must be identified and evaluated. Detailing problems like swelling or over driven nails will give the buyers information for possible repairs that need to be made. Improperly installed siding can lead to premature deterioration and may void any manufacturer’s warranties. Siding is subject to moisture damage and should be carefully inspected to assure water is not attacking the wall cavity. Any Asbestos must be identified, and the customer made aware of the options available in dealing with Asbestos. Evidence of settling beams or moving foundations can be seen in cracked mortar in the brick veneer. The severity of the cracking is important in determining if the movement is a serious structural issue or minor typical cracking.
Wood, Trim, Soffits, and Fascias
Once any wood damage begins it can accelerate quite rapidly. Wood trim, soffits and fascias are all exterior components that are particularly susceptible to the effects of wind, rain and heat. Damaged trim and window sills can allow water to enter the wall cavity and cause structural damage. Clogged gutters and gutter fasteners slanted toward the fascia can direct water to the wood fascia and soffits. The inspector must provide the buyer with as much information as possible on needed repairs and cost estimates. If repairs become part of the real estate process, the seller may opt to perform the repairs or to an agreed upon price for those repairs. In either case, the best information is required for the negotiation process. Even homes with metal, vinyl and other non-wood trim should be inspected for any damage or wear. Poor workmanship should also be noted as it’s possible it will become a maintenance issue in the future.
Paint and Caulking
Many home buyers are surprised to learn that portions of the house may require a paint job. Paint and caulking can deteriorate to the point of wood rot even on a newer home. Many home owners do not realize the paint is thinning until they have wood damage. The ideal time to paint and caulk is before you have rotting wood that has to be replaced or repaired. The home inspector may recommend that wood trim or siding be painted to prevent deterioration and maintain the appearance of the home. The extent and time frame should be made clear to the buyer so they can prioritize their household projects.
Windows and Doors
All insulated windows and doors, as well as, storm windows and storm doors are also included in the exterior part of the inspection. However, they are also inspected from the interior to evaluate not only efficiency but to help determine their functionality. Do they operate properly? Are screens installed and in good condition? Some loan programs may require a house to have screens. A failed Thermopane seal is usually more easily determined from the interior. All conditions should be noted.
Any exterior doors are also inspected from both the interior and exterior. The primary concern being security and safety. Do the doors open and close properly? Are the proper lock-sets and dead bolts installed and are they installed properly? Improperly installed or missing weather stripping can also allow rain to be blown in around the door trim and should be inspected for condition as well.
The last item on our exterior inspection list is the chimney. The chimney is best inspected from the roof, but again this is not always possible. A good set of binoculars can bring you up close for a better viewing. Chimneys are also inspected from the interior and the attic as a proper inspection involves many observations. Chimney material, height, and condition of the cap and spark arrester should be noted. Any obstructions should be included. Loose, cracked or damaged brick or mortar should be recommended for repair. Any flashing will need close evaluation and analysis. Brick chimneys built partially on the exterior of the house must be carefully inspected. If the chimney is visible in the attic, mortar joints and the brick condition can be evaluated. Other things to check for include if the flue is lined and is there any creosote build-up which requires a chimney sweep?It’s common for older homes that have been rehabbed to be missing the flue damper. This is an inexpensive fix, but should be noted as a necessary repair on the to-do list.
Home Inspector Series | View the rest of “A Home Inspectors Role” Series
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AA Home Inspection is a locally owned and operated, full-time inspection company serving the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky area. We have the experience to provide high-quality results. When it’s time to buy a new home, you need to be able to turn to an experienced inspection company you can trust. AA Home Inspection employs a full-time staff of qualified inspectors and office staff. Since 2000 we have completed over 9000 inspections and you can be assured that your home inspection report will give you an in-depth look at your new property.
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