Without a Doubt
Who Should Inspect?
If you feel unqualified to asses every crack and unidentified water leak in your home, feel free to hire a handy man. Not only will he be able to spot any problems, but he can also advise on repairs and costs right on the spot. Do you want a thorough evaluation? Hire a home inspector. Do keep in mind, however, that home inspectors cost much more (around $300-$400) and may not necessarily find every problem.
In most instances, though, simply paying attention to your home is all it takes to spot any emerging problems. For example, if your toilet runs all the time, chances are it needs to be repaired. Have you noticed that your doors don't shut properly anymore? That could be a sign of foundation settling or warping. Simply making a list of things around your home that seem "off" can make your inspection process much easier. No matter what your plans, the following items are a good place to start when evaluating the condition of your home:
Check chimneys for loose or deteriorating bricks or mortar. Make sure that metal chimneys are rust-free. A white, salty buildup on the chimney (efflorescence), indicates moisture build-up, and should be checked out by a professional. It's a good idea to have your chimneys professionally cleaned and inspected on an annual basis, in addition to you own visual assessments.
Have a leak inside the house? Chances are it's your roof. Beyond that, look for chipped or missing shingles, or shingles that may be rubbed away by hanging tree limbs. Take this chance to trim trees up away from the shingles. Also make sure to check flashings, soffits, fascia, and any wood trim that comes in contact with the roof for rotting or peeling paint. Touch up and repair as needed.
· Gutters and Downspouts:
Clean out your gutters and downspouts twice a year to ensure that no leakage or damage occurs. In addition, you may want to place screens over your gutters (available at home improvement stores) to prevent leaves and debris from entering the gutter system. Check for any places that they may be pulling away from the house or leaking. If paint is deteriorating, now is a good time to touch up.
· Exterior Walls and Foundation:
Check for any cracks, deterioration, or peeling paint. If foundation cracking is excessive, call for a professional assessment. Otherwise, you can patch it yourself with mortar patch (which can be piped in with a caulk gun).
· Soil Grading:
Does water seem to settle around the house rather than drain away? Check to make sure that the soil slopes away from the house (1 inch per 6 feet is recommended). If it doesn't, simply backfill with some topsoil until you reach the desired effect.
· Doors and Windows:
Look for peeling or cracked caulk and weather stripping. These can easily be purchased at any home improvement store and repaired in a small amount of time. Clean out window wells and check that windows and doors open, shut, and lock properly.
· Porches, Decks, and Patios:
Sealing your wooden porches and decks on an annual basis will help prevent against rotting and deterioration. Secure any wobbly rails or steps, and replace or treat any rotting or deteriorating wood. Check patios for cracks or settling, and repair as necessary.
· Driveways and Sidewalks:
Check for cracking, and fill with concrete-patch as needed. Taking this time to seal your concrete areas will help prevent any further cracking and deterioration.
· Attics and Crawlspaces:
Inspect attics and crawlspaces for any signs of water leakage, and repair as necessary. In addition, look for mildew, rot, and fungus growth. Repair any loose or damaged insulation, and check that attic vents are functioning properly. Look for any signs of vermin, and treat as necessary by placing bait or traps or hiring a professional exterminator.