Nathan Horton, Navarre FL
Nathan Horton is a licensed home inspector located at 2759 Grand Bay Court, Navarre, FL 32566. See full profile and details below.
Can I Do My Own Home Inspection?
Of course you can! But - it may not be a great idea. There are numerous books and articles on how to save money and do your own home inspection. They will likely recommend you gate a few basic tools and follow their step by step instructions. Of course, you are likely to find a few things that need repair. But - books won't help you find what every potential issue, including most critical defects that can possibly make or break a home purchase.
Some of the biggest defects are not right there staring you in your face, but present themselves merely as a clue. In other words, they are subtle and appear as something to be examined or probed further. Even more difficult for the homebuyer/inspector are the things that are defects because they are missing - simply not there.
A professional home inspector definitely has an advantage over you, the homebuyer inspector. After many home inspections the inspector obviously has gained valuable experience and knowledge of home construction. They can spot issues quickly and efficiently. Also, bear in mind, the inspector isn't buying the house, isn't excited about the home and looking forward to moving in, so he/she will be more objective and detached. The home inspector is dispassionate - just doing his job - that's a huge advantage.
So, we think doing your own home inspection isn't really a good idea and definitely recommend hiring a professional. But, you can do a pre-inspection while walking through the home to get a general idea of condition. Bring a flashlight, which is handy if you are looking at a foreclosure with no power.
Here are some tips:
- Stand outside in front of the long side of the house and look along the ridge of the roof. Holding any straight edge item such as a notebook, up to it see if the ridge is straight. If it is, good. If it is sagging in the middle or ends then that could indicate roof structure problems.
- Walk around the home and look at the way the land slopes around it. You want the ground to slope away from the house - even if it's slight. If the lot slopes in only one direction, like front to back, then look for any gullies or washed-out areas under the foundation that indicate undesirable water movement around the house during a heavy rain.
- Look for any significant cracks in concrete block or brick walls, especially near the ends of the walls and emanating from the corners of doors and windows. Every house settles a little, so a few small cracks are nothing to worry about. But if you can stick two quarters side-by-side into the crack, or if one side of the crack is raised up off the surface higher than the other as you run your hand over it, you likely have a structural problem that needs repair.
- Check if there are any large trees near the house. They can cause structural settlement issues over time. Tree roots near the surface of the ground can lift a foundation slab and some species cause settlement by sucking excessive water out of the soil in the radius of their root system. Also, look for tree branches branches that overhang or rub against the roof.
- Check the windows. Do you see any cracked or missing panes? Are they single-pane (older) or double-pane insulated (newer)? Do any of the double-pane windows have a haze over the glass? Older insulated windows lose their inert gas between the panes, which reduces the insulating ability, then condensate forming repeatedly inside the windows builds up an obscuring mineral haze—which indicates the window is ready for replacement.
- Check the visible surfaces of the roof from the ground. As an asphalt shingle roof ages, the edges of the shingles begin to curl, first at the corners, then towards the middle. The granules on top of the shingle wash away over time, giving the shingle surface a speckled appearance, and the edges become brittle and break off. This can be difficult to observe unless you get close to the roof. Either of these signs means the roof is ready, or nearly ready, to be replaced. More than one or two missing or damaged shingles also indicates the roof is older needs repair or replacement.
- Are there rainwater gutters? That’s a plus. A gutter system diverts water away from the foundation of the home, which both reduces the erosion and rainwater splash-back onto the base of the walls. Do they look like they’re in good condition? Do the ends have vertical leaders down to a splash plate that directs the water at least a few feet away from the house?
- What does the exterior paint finish look like? If it looks powdery, wipe your hand across it. Paint powder on your hand indicates old paint. Peeling, curling, or blistering paint surfaces can indicate any of several things: a very old paint finish, paint that has been applied over an older layer that was not adequately prepped, or moisture accumulation under the paint surface.
- Look at the intersection of the exterior windows and doors with the exterior wall surfaces. Are the joints caulked? Are there areas of crumbling, loose, or missing caulk? Deteriorated caulking allows water to enter the walls, leading to wood rot and mold problems.
- Search for veins of dirt running up interior walls, exterior walls, or foundation piers. These are subterranean termite mud tubes—mini-tunnels they use to gain access to the wood in a house.
These are just a few suggestions on what to look for. Obviously, a home inspector will do a more thorough inspection and be able to advise you correctly. It's advisable to hire a professional after you have done your pre-inspection.