First Time Home Buyers: Confidence Experienced Home Owners: Planning Aging-In-Place Seniors: Safety
Inspecting homes in Northern Virginia, Montgomery County MD, and Washington DC

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Your Home Inspection

A home inspection is a non-invasive visual examination and analysis of the major systems of a house, specifically to identify observable material defects of the systems and components.  Our systematic inspections are guided by the Standards of Practice of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) and the International Association of Home Inspectors (InterNACHI).

Your home inspection will provide valuable information and insights into the condition and operations of your home. We will answer key questions, such as:

  • Roofing - in what condition are the roof and attic?
  • Exterior - does the grading help water to drain away from the house?
  • Structure - is there evidence of excessive settling?
  • Electrical - are the bathrooms protected by GFCIs?
  • Heating and Cooling -  do the furnace and air conditioner work?
  • Insulation and Ventilation - what kind of and how much insulation is in the attic?
  • Plumbing -  are the traps proper to keep sewer gases out of the house?
  • Interior - are the signs of moisture where there shouldn't be?

Our reports describe the results of our visual inspection, indicating deficiencies in the home and where improvements would be appropriate.   It will also highlight concerns or conditions for which we will recommend further evaluation, improvement, repair, or replacement by licensed specialists or contractors.  You can use the report to establish priorities for repairs and maintenance.

 

While the inspection will systematically address these systems, various conditions and characteristics of the house will influence our method of inspecting each, and the degree to which each will be inspected. Weather conditions and accessibility to various components and areas of the home will affect our methods.  Safety -- for you, the inspector, and the equipment -  drives many decisions related to the inspection process. For example:

  • We will not run an air conditioner (or a heat pump in air conditioning mode) if the outside temperature is below 65oF, since doing so might damage the compressor. 
  • We will generally not energize circuits that are turned off - or turn off circuits that are live -since we do not always know what might be connected. 
  • We will operate plumbing fixtures (faucets, toilets, etc.) but will not open shut-off valves that are closed, close shut-off valves that are open, or test temperature/pressure relief valves. Such activities risk turning a non-invasive inspection into a destructive test. 
  • Attics that do not present visible or safe pathways through the space will generally be inspected from either the access hatch opening or a working platform within the attic.
  • We generally do not walk on roofs - and never on steep or slate-covered roofs. We will inspect them from the ground, with binoculars or telephoto lenses, and from inside the attic where possible.  We will sometimes inspect them from a ladder at the eave, or from upper story windows or doors that provide vantage points or roof access. 
  • We look for the presence of smoke detectors, but will not test them -  testing smoke detectors that might be part of an alarm system risks a visit by the local fire department.
  • We will identify specialized equipment, such as emergency generators, but not operate them during the inspection.  If the owner or a specialist is present and is interested and willing to demonstrate the operation of specialized equipment, we can observe.  Otherwise, special arrangements would need to be made with a qualified service representative.

These exclusions are typical and consistent with our professional Standards of Practice, designed to provide a valuable resource for you, at a reasonable cost, within a reasonable time frame. Understanding what is and is not included in a home inspection helps you get the most value from it.


 

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