Ask Danny | Ep. 30: Why You Need a Home Inspection and What to Expect

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In this episode, I’m talking to Doug Johnson about the importance of having a home inspection. 

Doug Johnson is the owner of Inspect Mobile, a home inspection company that serves lower Alabama and Mississippi. Doug has over 10 years of experience in the home inspection field and is also a past board member of the American Society of Home Inspectors. He currently sits on the state of Alabama home inspector advisory committee.

Person holding clipboard with list of items for home inspection in front of a house
A home inspection can help identify any potential problems or issues with the property before you make a purchase. (AndreyPopov, Getty Images)

What is a Home Inspection?

What is a home inspection, and what does a home inspection cover?

Doug: Basically, a home inspection is a thorough examination of a house’s major systems and components. This includes everything from the roof to the foundation and everything in between.

The goal of a home inspection is to put the house through a series of tests that would mimic real-life tasks. For example, running the shower for multiple minutes or putting a stress test on appliances and fixtures. By doing this, we can identify any potential problems or issues that might not be immediately apparent.

By finding these surprises before someone moves into the house, they can be addressed and fixed before they become the new homeowner’s responsibility. For example, if the inspector finds a leak under the sink or a missing smoke detector, the seller can address those issues before the buyer moves in.

What should a person look for when hiring a home inspector?

Doug: The first thing you need to consider is finding someone you can really trust.

One great way to find a trustworthy inspector is to ask your friends or real estate agent for recommendations. They may have worked with someone before who did a great job and can vouch for their expertise.

Another important thing to look for is an inspector who is ASHI-certified. ASHI stands for the American Society of Home Inspectors, and they’re one of the most respected organizations in the industry. When an inspector is ASHI-certified, it means they’ve undergone a rigorous certification process to ensure that they have the experience and knowledge necessary to perform a high-quality inspection.

ASHI-certified inspectors have to meet certain requirements and pass a comprehensive exam to get certified. So, they know all aspects of home inspection, from electrical and plumbing systems to structural elements and more.

Foundation issues on a residential home
During a home inspection, the inspector can identify potential foundational issues by looking for cracks, settling, or other signs of damage to the foundation. (SBSArtDept, Getty Images)

Why You Need a Home Inspection

Why are home inspections important when purchasing a house?

Doug: Home inspections are important when purchasing a house because they help the buyer to identify any potential problems or issues with the property before making a final decision to purchase.

The inspection report can reveal problems that may not be visible to the naked eye, like structural issues, plumbing or electrical problems, and potential hazards. By identifying these issues early on, the buyer can make an informed decision about whether to proceed with the purchase, negotiate a lower price, or request that the seller make repairs before closing.

In some cases, a home inspection may also uncover issues that could be deal breakers for the buyer, such as mold or termite infestations, foundation damage, or other serious issues that could affect the safety or livability of the property.

Home inspections are also extremely helpful for current homeowners.

By inspecting the home, we’re helping them better understand their house, and the safety aspects of it and make sure they can prepare for any kind of future expenditure they might not know about. 

What about home inspections for current homeowners?

Doug: Homeowners get a little antsy about having an inspector come in before they sell because they’re worried we’re going to find all kinds of stuff wrong, and then they’ll have to disclose it to potential buyers.

But the thing is, having an inspector come in before you sell can actually be a huge benefit. We might find something as simple as a broken GFCI outlet or some wood rot that needs fixing. And the beauty of catching these issues early is that the homeowner now has a chance to make repairs before any potential buyers come in. That way, they’re not under the gun to get an electrician or a contractor out there at the last minute, trying to fix things before closing day.

Ceiling damaged as moisture in the roof leaks from rainwater
A home inspection can reveal water damage caused by a leaky roof, which if left unaddressed, can lead to costly repairs. (Cunaplus_M.faba, Getty Images)

Common Problems

What do you find are the most common issues in homes? Roofs, appliances, structural? And how can homeowners prevent some of these issues?

Doug: We tend to find a lot of issues that are related to water. Whether it’s a leaky roof or a back door that’s starting to rot out, water seems to be a common culprit.

I recently went to inspect a really nice house that was on a raised foundation. The owners had updated the kitchen with new granite countertops and stainless steel appliances, and it was all set to go on the market. But when I crawled under the house, I saw that they hadn’t connected any of the sewer pipes. Instead, there was just a big puddle of water under there.

If that house had been sold without anyone realizing that, it could have caused some serious issues down the line.

What is the most shocking or intriguing thing that you have found in a home?

Doug: I’ve come across my fair share of snake skins during inspections. It’s not exactly what you expect to see when you’re crawling around under a house, but it happens!

One time, I was inspecting a crawl space and noticed that the plastic sheeting was bunched up in one area. As I crawled over to investigate, I suddenly came face to face with an opossum. Needless to say, we both scared each other pretty badly! We ended up running to opposite ends of the crawl space as fast as we could!

But it’s not all creepy crawlies and critters. One of the things I love about inspecting older houses is discovering unique features that you don’t see in modern homes. Like a built-in mixer in a kitchen cabinet, for example. Or hidden doors, like the classic bookcase that leads to a secret room. It’s these little touches that make each house unique and add to its charm.

A home inspector holds up a tablet in front of an mechanical system
Advancements in technology have made it easier for home inspectors to detect hidden issues that may not be visible to the naked eye. (CatLane, Getty Images Signature)

What’s New in Home Inspecting

How has technology changed the home inspection process?

Doug: You know, I was chatting with some of the more seasoned home inspectors the other day, and they were telling me some wild stories about how the industry has evolved over the years. Apparently, back in the ’70s, home inspections were just starting to gain traction, and these guys were using carbon copies for their reports! They had to run to get their photos developed, too. But then polaroids came out, and eventually, digital cameras became the norm.

Nowadays, I’m packing all kinds of gadgets when I head out to inspect a house. I’ve got an infrared camera, a drone, a sewer camera, and I’ve even got a camera on an RC car that can roll right under a house.

It may seem like overkill, but these tools really help us get a more thorough inspection. And at the end of the day, that means our customers can better understand the condition of their home.

Further Reading


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