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The Science of Home Inspection

Every Home Inspection is Science

Professional home inspectors take an engineering approach to home inspection.  Their reports are just like a scientist’s notes on an experiment. They make observations and discuss their findings. Then they list possible solutions to any problems. 

That information is based on objective, unbiased observation. And that information helps you make wise decisions. 

The Engineering Approach to Home Inspection

When an engineer goes about designing a structure they look at three main components:

  1. Structural Safety – the home will not collapse.
  2. Serviceability – a structure that serves the occupants for a long period of time without damage or discomfort.
  3. Systemized Design – a systematized and organized approach to using materials to provide the necessary functions for a liveable structure.

Since the first structure of branches tied together to hold up a covering, entropy—gradual decline into disorder—has been the biggest battle. Elements that can affect the structure, like gravity, wind, and ground movement through temperature and other environmental causes all work over time to impact structural soundness. 

A home inspection reports on the safety and structural soundness of a home at the current time.

The Home Inspection Foundation 

The same way a house needs a solid foundation, an inspection report needs a foundation to cover objective observations and present findings logically. 

The answer is a system. 

In order to perform a thorough home inspection, your inspector needs to look at the entire structure from top to bottom. There’s the structural system that keeps the house standing. There’s a plumbing system for water and gas. There’s an electrical system to keep your home lighted and appliances running. 

Because there are so many items to check, a systematic, engineering approach ensures your home inspector covers every system that comprises the entire system of the home. Your inspector looks inside and out, top to bottom.  

The report covers a variety of systems to give you an evaluation of the home’s current condition.

  • Structural System
  • Exterior
  • Roof System
  • Plumbing System
  • Electrical System
  • Heating System
  • Air Conditioning System
  • Interior
  • Insulation and Ventilation
  • Fireplace and Solid Fuel Burning Appliances

 Your inspector needs to check any changes happening to the systems in the home and alert you of possible future changes.

The Process

As your inspector goes through your house, they test, poke, prod, open and close system lines, turn electrical systems on and off, check for flow, measure current, look for cracks and leaks, check for rot and decay, and work to make sure each system is working from top to bottom. 

Because your inspector must examine a variety of systems and note any defects or potential problems, your home inspection takes several hours. 

Your inspector’s physical presence is essential. Crawling under the house, opening cupboards, checking dishwashers or chimney flues, examining the roof—all of these actions take time. 

At the site, your inspector is gathering intelligence about the home. That intelligence consists of many pieces of information about the various systems in the home. 

Experience and expertise are fundamental requirements for a sound home inspection. 

And then, just like a science experiment, your inspector notes any deviation from the norm. So, they may find a current problem or a place in a system that needs monitoring for potential future problems. 

The Report

The home inspection report gathers all the collected intelligence on all the systems. The findings are organized according to which system has a flaw.

If you need to explore one of the systems—structure, electrical, heating, etc.—the report lists each system and the findings in a separate category.

Because the report covers a number of systems within the big “system” of the house, your report can be long, covering all the findings. 

But, just like a science experiment with notable findings, the major alerts are grouped near the beginning of the report. Think of them as action items. Then the backup system information is in the full system section inside the report. 

The full inspection report is a dated legal document supporting the title information for the property. Just like a scientific finding, the report needs to:

 Highlight important findings

  1. Backup findings with system procedures

That way you’ll be able to review the findings on the property, evaluate the findings and your commitment to the transaction, and make an informed decision on the action you want to take. 

How to Use Your Home Inspection Report 

Just like scientific papers start with an abstract that points out the major findings, your inspection report contains a summary at the beginning: IMPROVEMENT RECOMMENDATION HIGHLIGHTS / SUMMARY.

Finding recommendations are listed in order of importance. 

  • Major Concerns
  • Safety Issues
  • Repair Items
  • Items to Monitor
  • Improvement Items

The order and significance help you determine at a glance what repairs and remediation are recommended. It’s like a digest of the home inspector’s expertise on the condition of the property.

Without a systematic observation of the house, and a thorough report, you would need to know as much as the inspector to evaluate how you want to approach the findings. 

The home inspection report is your guide to making a decision about pricing and negotiation or whether you want to proceed with the transaction. 

Why An Engineering Approach Is Right for You 

With a thorough background in home systems, the ability and experience to evaluate systems, and identify problems and potential areas of concern, an engineering approach provides an objective, unbiased, scientific evaluation of a home’s current condition.

At Inspect.net we combine our 30 years of experience, general contractors license, and degree in industrial engineering to give you the information you need in your home inspection report. Take a look at a sample report then schedule your home inspection. Please feel free to contact me any time at jeff@inspect.net if you have any questions.

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