Some problems with a building jump out at you from the beginning: a wobbly step as you approach the front door, a gust of cool air leaking through the weather stripping, a water stain on the ceiling.
These sorts of issues are obvious to anyone who’s paying attention and interested in the wellbeing of the house—which also means that these issues are the first things to be fixed (and/or hidden) when a house goes on the market.
Our job as home inspectors includes, of course, watching out for and taking note of each of these obvious issues. We compile every part of our inspection into a comprehensive list detailing what issues we’ve spotted, and where, and how serious they are. And if these obvious issues have already been resolved, we double-check to make sure the fixes have been done properly.
But as home inspectors, our job is also to go a lot further in our investigations. This means looking at all the places that wouldn’t be included on the tour: attics, crawlspaces, quirky storage spots, under sinks and behind cabinets. Sometimes this is where we’ll spot little problems before they become big ones; other times, these overlooked or hard-to-get-to places are where the big problems are hiding.
If the home is on a concrete slab, we’ve got to investigate its darkest corners to see if there are issues with the foundation. If it’s elevated, we’re getting down into the crawlspace below the floor in search of evidence of subterranean termites or damaging roots. We’ve got to root around in the attic to explore the stability of the structure and the roof especially. And every single inch of the home has to be assessed for the quality and efficiency of its insulation, not to mention the omnipresent threat of leaks from outside storms or from within the home’s own plumbing system.
Plus, as a Florida home inspector, Sarasota native and 27-year veteran firefighter, I’m keenly aware of home issues specific to this area, including hurricane damage, electrical failures (especially with regards to humidity), air conditioning efficiency, and what to look for in a variety of styles of southwest Florida architecture.
It may take a little time and a lot of determination, but investigating these hard-to-reach spaces saves a lot of money and grief in the long run.