Our methodology -- what exactly do we inspect?Someone in our trade once added up the item evaluated during a good house or building inspection and it totaled over 400 items. Evaluation of an inspector's methodology is critical when looking to hire a home inspector, because even the best industry home inspection standard, which was created by ASHI, has many limitations. Many of the better inspectors exceed those limitations as part of their service but many of the lesser inspectors don't. During each home inspection, here are some of the many items inspected by Aberdeen Building Consulting, as applicable. If you're shopping around, use this list to compare what we offer with other companies.
ROOF/CHIMNEY EXTERIOR: Assuming safe weather/building conditions, the roof is inspected while walking on it. Even if unsafe conditions are present, a lot can be learned by examining the roof from a ladder at the eaves. By using a 2-story extension ladder, any building or house with the eaves at the top of the 2nd floor can be roof-accessed. (Taller buildings with flat roofs usually have roof access from the top floor.) Most inspectors do not use or carry such ladders and examine the roof from the street with binoculars, camera poles, or other contraptions. Some even use drones, but all of these tricks are no substitute for seeing the roof up close and touching it. If you hired a roofer to inspect your roof, wouldn't you expect them to show up with a ladder? You should expect nothing less from a home inspector, unless they state that they don't include roofs as part of their service.
The condition and quality of installation of roofing materials and flashing will be evaluated. The exterior of the chimney is also examined for needed maintenance and repairs.
However, a proper examination of the interior of a masonry chimney can only be done after the chimney is thoroughly cleaned. We therefore recommended a Level II chimney interior examination, including a full video inspection, be performed by a chimney sweep certified by the Chimney Sweep Institute of America (csia.org).
EXTERIOR/GROUNDS: The condition of windows, siding, sidewalks, site drainage, roof drainage system, deck construction, garage, retaining walls, swimming pools, out-buildings, and fences are examined for condition and needed maintenance/repairs.
WATER ENTRY: Prolonged water entry into buildings can cause serious problems including decay of structural components and mold. This is a very important portion of our process and there is a whole section in our report devoted to it, as well as preventing water entry into basements. Note that most inspection companies have no defined methodology for evaluating water entry into buildings.
The entire building is searched for water stains, damage, and leakage. Determination of how wet or dry water stains are can be made by using a moisture meter. Active water stains could be an indication of extensive damage behind finished surfaces as well as potential mold growth, a health hazard. The building interior is scanned with an infrared camera, which has proven helpful over and over again to locate moisture on surfaces where no visible staining or damage is present. With the camera, leaks can be found that would normally take weeks or months to visually manifest.
INTERIOR ROOMS: All finished floors, walls, and ceilings are examined for condition, installation issues, and damages such as active stains, or other conditions that could indicate structural issues.
STRUCTURE/FOUNDATION: These areas are examined for evidence of deficiencies or failure. Houses and buildings built before 1950 or houses with amateur improvements, termite damage, block foundations, or water damage are the most likely candidates for structure problems.
HEATING SYSTEM: Fuel-burning heating systems are tested for the presence of excessive carbon monoxide (CO), which is a deadly gas, using a CO analyzer. Draft (the upward movement of combustion gases in the chimney) and stack temperature (temperature of combustion gases) are also checked. The condition of the heating system including the potential for repair or replacement is evaluated. Thermostats are operated. All finished spaces are checked for operational heat sources.
AIR CONDITIONING: Wall air conditioners and central A/C systems are examined and tested for operability and performance. On houses with central A/C, each room is checked for an operational cooling source. Duct work and condensate management are considered as well. NOTE: Air conditioning equipment cannot be operated without risk of damage if the outside temperature is lower than 65°F or if the central air system power has not been turned on for at least 24 hours. The compressor has a sealed motor lubricated by a very thick oil that does not readily flow in colder temperatures, which could result in a burned-out motor.
ELECTRICAL: All main circuit panel and subpanel covers are removed so that wiring may be examined for safe practices. Often home owners and/or amateur electricians use unsafe wiring practices out of ignorance or laziness, which can put the home or building at risk for an electrical fire. The service entry is also examined. Accessible electrical outlets are tested with an outlet wiring analyzer. GFCI circuits are tested with a ground-fault simulator.
PLUMBING: All fixtures are tested for adequate pressure, drainage, and leaks. The presence and temperature of hot wateris also checked. All accessible piping, including heat piping, is examined for condition and quality of materials.
GAS SERVICE: All accessible gas pipes are tested for leaks using a combustible gas detector. Older installations generally have pipe joint compound which has dried out and is a very common cause of gas leaks. About 50% - 60% of houses and buildings we see have some type of gas leakage.
ATTIC: An attic is the dead space between the roof and the top floor. If the attic is accessible, we go in. The quantity of insulation and quality of installation is evaluated. Signs of past/present leakage/damage and attic ventilation are also checked, as well as evidence of animal habitation. The attic is a good place to see if there is roof leakage.
BASEMENT/CRAWL SPACE: The spaces below ground level usually offer a lot of information about a house or building. Some buildings have a crawl space, which is like a basement where you can't stand up. Assuming the crawl space is accessible, we go in.
TERMITES: Each residential purchase inspection includes a NYS termite report (Form NPMA-33) that you can use for your closing -- you will not need a separate termite inspection.
Cost estimates for concerns requiring major expenditures is included in each report.