Inspection Process

What is a Building Inspection? Residential or Commercial Building Inspection?

A building inspection is a professional, objective, visual examination of the condition of a residential or commercial property. Property buyers now entering the marketplace view inspections as a way to gain valuable information about the biggest purchase of their lifetime. It helps them to determine whether there are any major defects or system inadequacies at the time of purchase.

In most cases, building inspections are performed after a sales contract, (conditional upon a satisfactory building inspection) has been accepted by the seller. The inspection can usually be arranged immediately to within a few days. The property buyer is typically encouraged to attend the inspection, so that he/she can see first hand the workings of the home. It also represents an excellent opportunity for the prospective buyer to ask questions about the home or to discuss potential changes.

Building inspections are not intended to point out every small problem or defect in a home. Minor or cosmetic flaws, for example, should be apparent without the aid of a professional.

Building inspections should also highlight the positive aspects of the property. In fact, many of the building consultant’s observations or recommendations help to dispel home purchaser anxieties, and provide useful repair suggestions.

The building consultant’s service to the purchaser is primarily one of education. The goal of the building consultant is to provide the purchaser with a better understanding of the physical condition of the property in order that they can make a well-informed decision. It is also the consultant’s role to keep his findings in perspective for the buyer. After the inspection is completed, a written report should be prepared for the client, documenting the results of the inspection, along with an estimation of repair time frames and costs.

The building inspection should not be confused with an appraisal, a municipal code inspection, an environmental audit, or a home owner’s warranty. What is the difference between a building consultant, a building inspector, and a home inspector? A building consultant is a professional who performs private pre-purchase inspections of both commercial and residential properties. A building inspector is a government employee who inspects for codes (e.g. fire codes, electrical codes, etc.) especially on new construction or on major renovations. A home inspector inspects residential properties exclusively.

A complete building inspection should cover all of the major systems of the property, including structure, exterior, roofing, electrical, heating, cooling, insulation, plumbing and interior. As a minimum, an inspection should meet the Standards of Practice of The American Society of Home Inspectors® (ASHI®). Our report is typically over 20 pages long and includes a Report Summary (itemizing major deficiencies), Estimated Repair Costs, Color Photos Of Deficiencies, and Illustrations. View Sample Pages of Inspection Report.

What we look for in a residential inspection.

To check your home’s earthquake fitness, the place we start is the crawl space underneath your home.

1. Is your house properly bolted down to its foundation? The wood 2×4 or 2×6 that rests directly on the foundation is called the “mud sill.” Until the 1950s, home builders often did not bolt the mud sills to the foundation. This creates a serious structural weakness that can allow your home to slide off its foundation during an earthquake. The mud sill should be bolted at four to sixfoot intervals (as specified on your plans), and a bolt should be located within one foot of every joint or step in the mud sill, but no closer than nine inches to the end of the board. If the mud sill is not bolted, or inadequately bolted, this is a job you can consider doing yourself.

2. Next, examine the cripple walls.Check to make sure your cripple walls are braced with plywood to resist motion. Even if your cripple walls have cross-bracing, they are not strong enough for earthquakes unless you add plywood.

3. Check for faulty materials in the concrete and the wood framing. The foundation is a common area of structural weakness, so check your foundation to make sure it’s in good condition. Sometimes the concrete used in foundations is too porous and crumbly to provide adequate strength. If so, your home is still subject to earthquake damage, even if you’ve bolted it down and installed plywood on the cripple walls. Do you see any obvious evidence in the wood of dry rot or insect damage? If so, you will need to remove and replace the damaged wood. It’s a good idea to hire a structural pest control inspector to look for damage not easily seen except by a trained eye. Faulty materials such as rotten wood and porous concrete should be replaced. Risky conditions in concrete include cracks wider than 1/8 inch, large voids, or “honeycomb” concrete. If the concrete chips or flakes when you poke it with a screwdriver, it may be unsafe.

NOTE: If we suspect faulty material, we may need the assistance of a licensed engineer or architect to design a solution. Bolting your mud sill to the foundation and adding plywood to the cripple walls are the two most cost-effective steps you can take to strengthen your home for earthquakes.

Bolts secure your home’s mud sill to the concrete foundation.The mud sill should be bolted at four foot intervals – one foot from the corners (as specified on your prescriptive plan set). Sheets of plywood nailed to the cripple walls help to prevent damage from shaking in this typically weak area of your house. Cross-bracing within the framing is not enough.

Commercial Inspection or details! – call John Taferner 323-931-2969