Home Inspection 101


A home inspection is a critical part of the home buying process. The Ellen Clark Team knows that although they can be stressful, it is essential to find out what problems your future home may have so they can be fixed prior to moving in. Sometimes the results are better than expected and sometimes you may need to look into making an offer on another home (worst case scenario). In addition, a home inspection will provide you with the in’s and out of your new home, including maintenance suggestions that will make your life easier down the road. Getting this information from a home inspector before you do your final walk through also ensures that you and the seller have time to negotiate repairs if necessary. Here is the Ellen Clark Teams Guide to a home inspection.

Step 1: Find Your Inspector

Make sure you select a licensed professional and that they are ASHI certified. You can use online resources, recommendations from friends, or your agent/lender to find the right one for you. Ask for a sample of their reports to ensure they do a thorough job. Some inspectors will list what is wrong in a comments section while others are much more detailed providing pictures and recommendations for repairs. Always select the more detailed inspector. Fixing problems now means less repair work down the road.

Step 2: A Disclosure Statement

This statement will come from the seller and should detail repairs made to the home prior to selling along with any problems the home may have. The document, that has yes or no questions regarding the home, should convey any problems regarding the property value. Make sure to check whether or not unpermitted work has been done. This could lead to problems for you, the buyer, later on. This could cost the seller fines but it is better to get these taken care of in advance. If not the buyer may suffer the repercussions leading to inevitable legal action which no one wants. This is also the time to find out if the home has lead paint. Homes being sold that were built before 1978 must comply with a federal law called the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992, and give the buyer information regarding lead-based paint hazards in the home, and give the buyer time to test the home for lead. This should be documented for both the buyer and sellers protection. Removal may be necessary or may not, it depends on the paints condition and if the purchaser plans on doing any renovations. Many sellers will actually have a home inspection done prior to listing to make necessary repairs to have a successful sale. If this is the case, you will more than likely have nothing to worry about on your inspection day.

Step 3: Be Present On Inspection Day

You and your agent should be present during the inspection. We recommend that you follow along with the inspector as much as possible. This way you can see for yourself if anything needs to be done and also have the opportunity to learn more about your future home’s maintenance. We recommend blocking off an entire morning or afternoon to do so as you want your home inspector to take their time. To make sure you can follow along to see everything your inspector does wear comfortable clothing/shoes. You can also bring a flashlight. The more you see the more you know.

Step 4: The Check List

Use this list from bankrate.com to ensure all necessary checks are made:

Interior of the home

  • Walls, ceilings, and floors
  • Steps, stairways, and railings
  • Countertops and cabinets
  • Doors and windows
  • Garage doors and operators
  • Installed kitchen appliances

Exterior of the home

  • Wall coverings, flashing and trim
  • Exterior doors
  • Decks, balconies, stoops, steps, porches and railings
  • Eaves, soffits, and fascias visible from the ground
  • Plants, grading, drainage and retaining walls
  • Garages and carports
  • Walkways, patios, and driveways


  • Fixtures and faucets
  • Water heater
  • Drain, waste and vent systems
  • Sump pumps and sewage ejectors


  • Service drops
  • Service entrance conductors, cables, and raceways
  • Service equipment and main disconnects
  • Service grounding
  • Interior components of service panels and sub panels
  • Conductors
  • Overcurrent protection devices
  • Light fixtures, switches, and receptacles
  • Circuit interrupters


  • Access panels that can be readily opened
  • Thermostats
  • Installed heating and cooling equipment
  • Fuel-burning fireplaces and stoves
  • Vent systems, exhaust systems, flues and chimneys
  • Insulation and vapor retarders in unfinished spaces
  • Distribution systems


  • Home’s foundation
  • Floor structure
  • Wall structure, ceiling structure, and roof structures

Home inspectors should also check crawlspaces, the basement, or attic. Keep an eye out for rotted wood, poorly done wiring, and cracks in the foundation.

Step 4: Post Inspection

Following feedback from the home inspector, you may need to negotiate home repairs or an inspection closing credit. Repairs on major systems: electrical, foundation, roof and plumbing, should be handled by the seller before the home purchase is finalized. Other repairs that are less serious can be handled by the buyer post purchase. This is what the closing credit should go towards. This way repairs can be done to the buyer’s satisfaction and not hold up the closing process, as typically those selling need to finalize the closing on their home in order to move into another. Additional checks may be needed based on the age of the home and feedback from the inspector including further testing for radon, mold, asbestos, and pests. Do not fret though, this is all a part of the home buying process. Your real estate agent along with your home inspector should give you suggestions and valuable input that will enable you to make the right decisions regarding your new home.

The Ellen Clark Team hopes this inspection guide will be a useful tool in your home buying process. Remember, the Ellen Clark Team is here to meet and exceed your real estate needs in Amelia, Chesterfield, Goochland, Hanover, Henrico, Powhatan, and Richmond.  Contact Patricia Clark at 804-387-2976/ patricia@ellenclark.com TODAY!