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What Common Exterior Items Are Inspected In A Home Inspection?

What Common Exterior Items Are Inspected In A Home Inspection?

A thorough home inspection will cover a wide variety of exterior items from the smallest cracks in a sidewalk to a roof collapsing in on itself. Many home inspection checklist are 20+ pages long and exterior elements should easily be half of that length. The following is a list of the most common exterior items which are inspected during a home inspection.


A solid home foundation is crucial to maintaining a home's structural integrity for decades. Signs of a damaged foundation include crumbling due to a poor or improperly cured concrete mixture, large cracks greater than 1/8 of an inch in width and undermining of the foundation due to water erosion. Foundation repair can be quite expensive so if any of these elements are found during a home inspection they should be considered deal breakers on a home purchase.


Roofing, if done properly, can last as long the home's foundation but sometimes due to poor installation or excessive weathering roofs need to be replaced. The two areas of greatest concern during a roofing evaluation are warping or cupping and water damage resulting in deterioration. Warping can result from improper installation of the rafters themselves or the waferboard covering. Water damage normally results from damaged shingles or roofing tiles which leads to a degradation in the substrate. If given enough time either of these issues may require the roof to be replaced completely.


Proper drainage away from the foundation will include a specific degree for grading as determined by local building code. It also means that the soil around the foundation is below the siding installed on the exterior of the home. If dirt is touching the siding it can lead to rotting as well as insect infestation from termites and carpenter ants. There should also be a minimum space between plants and the foundation to limit damage caused by roots. Homes in high precipitation areas may also require a French drain to be installed in addition to proper grading and other drainage measures.


Insect infestation will be checked for on the interior of a home but there will be obvious signs on the exterior as well. Termites and carpenter ants create wood particle debris as it falls away from an infested area. Once an area has been located, the home inspector will follow up on the inside to see how far it spreads into the main structure. Rodent infestations can also be observed by looking for tunneling or other openings in the foundation or exterior. Larger animals may find ways into the roof through vent openings and should be of concern to existing and future home owners.


Fencing and railings around a residence or installed pool will also be evaluated for stability. Often, posts which are used to install a fence will rot or become loose with time leading to safety concerns. Normally, fencing installed around walkways and decking will also be evaluated as they are normally part of the same exterior elements. It is also necessary for fencing to be self-closing and elevated enough to prevent children under a certain age from opening a fence in gaining access to a pool or other areas which are off-limits.


Driveways, which some may consider part of the foundation, actually have their own evaluation due to certain characteristics. Driveways can consist of many different materials such as concrete, pavers, cobblestones and asphalt. Each of these materials are susceptible to the same weather elements like ice, rain and sunlight but will react differently. Asphalt will degrade with time and crumble but pavers may shift in height. A good home inspector will determine whether or not a driveway needs to be repaired, replaced or is in good working order.